SMC to host Composition Marathon

Scottish Music Centre to host Composition Marathon

Peter Gregson

Event at the Scottish Music Centre to feature performances from Daniel's Beard, Ensemble Thing and more

To commission ten composers at the same time to write a new work each is quite an undertaking. To ask them all to do it in the space of only twelve hours could be verging on insanity, especially as none of the ten will have an inkling of which instruments they’ll be writing for until the day before their pieces are performed.

The Scottish Music Centre’s Composition Marathon project is a world-first for composition. Through its ten world premieres being presented at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket, audiences are offered a unique opportunity to hear the very latest in cutting-edge contemporary classical music from Scotland, with performances from some of the country’s most innovative, top chamber ensembles. The eclectic line-up is Daniel’s Beard, Ensemble Thing, Peter Gregson with Keith Beattie, Pure Brass and Flercussion.

The brainchild of SMC Communications Officer, Christopher Glasgow, the Composition Marathon has three main aims. Coinciding with the visit of New York based music commissioning revolutionaries, Bang on a Can, to Glasgow’s Minimal season, the Composition Marathon is, says Glasgow, ‘something that ties in with their ethos but has its own identity. Minimal has an international focus and this is a complement to that. It is also about creating opportunities for composers and performers.’

Additionally about supporting and promoting the work of Scottish composers in the longer term, Composition Marathon attracted entries from over 20 composers. Some were students and some more established, but all now have a new or developing relationship with the SMC. The Centre will keep the ten new scores in its archives and make them available for future performances. ‘Performers, if they like the pieces, can then take them into their repertoire. It’s creating new dialogues between them and composers,’ says Glasgow, ‘and if we’re helping composers and performers, then hopefully everyone will be happy.’

Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Sun 25 Mar; various venues, Dundee, until Sun 27 Jun.

SMC Composition Marathon

The climax of the Scottish Music Centre's Composition Marathon sees five ensembles play works that ten selected composers have created over the previous 24 hours; it's more of a 26-mile sprint than a marathon, really, but it's still proof that nothing focuses the creative mind like the menacing shadow of a deadline.

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