New music at the Cheltenham Festival

- 29 June 2013

The Cheltenham Music Festival runs 3-14 July, including a number of premieres and new works.

Premieres include David Sawer’s The Lighthouse Keepers on 4 July, forming a double bill of ‘radio plays’ with Samuel Beckett and Morton Feldman’s Words and Music played by the BCMG under Martyn Brabbins, whose sponsored half-marathon while he was Cheltenham’s artistic director provided some funding for the commission. The work is a companion to Sawer’s 2009 Rumpelstiltskin and is ‘a claustrophobic tale of father and son lighthouse-keepers,’ says BCMG director Stephen Newbould.

Also at Cheltenham is the premiere of David Matthews Double Concerto, inspired by the sense of ‘coming together in friendship’ of the soloists in Mozart’s similar work. Michael Zev Gordon’s The Gleam of Hidden Skies is a companion piece to Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, rooted, says the composer, ‘in the dusk and night colours of the Serenade … But while the Britten is as much about the external world as the internal, my work plunges straight into poetry about dark, troubled feelings.’

The title of Colin Matthews’ new work for piano trio came from a comment by John Adams: ‘I was reluctant to use the conventional but prosaic “Piano Trio”, for this work,’ says Matthews, ‘so when a chance remark to John Adams about the problems of writing piano trios met with the laconic response, “Nowhere to hide”, I seized gratefully on his wise words.’ The work was commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble to celebrate its 30th anniversary. A packed programme of new music at Cheltenham this year also includes premieres by Dai Fujikura, Kenneth Hesketh, David Onac, Simon Holt, Marton Illes, Antony Pitts, Gabriel Jackson, and Hywel Davies (see below).

Festival director Meurig Bowen says ‘Cheltenham hosts a riot of premieres this year, 15 in total, including major new works from Roxanna Panufnik, David Sawer, Michael Zev Gordon, Colin Matthews and David Matthews. Cheltenham is very proud of an ongoing commitment to new work, and this year we launch a new Composer Academy which brings together a large body of young and established composers for a series of workshops, professional development sessions and networking opportunities.’


Dai Fujikura

Three Miniatures

Thursday 4 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

Piano 4 Hands


Johnny Coppin/Ian Higginson/Philip Lane/Matthew Martin

Gloucestershire Songs suite

Thursday 4 July 6pm

Tewkesbury Abbey

Cheltenham Youth Choir


David Sawer

The Lighthouse Keepers

Thursday 4 July 7pm

Parabola Arts Centre



Colin Matthews

Nowhere to hide

David Matthews

Four Portraits

Friday 5 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

The Schubert Ensemble



Winter Words (version premiere)

Saturday 6 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

Christianne Stotijn and Imogen Cooper


Kenneth Hesketh


Saturday 6 July 5.30pm

Parabola Arts Centre

Clare Hammond


Roxanna Panufnik

Orchestrapaedia – English premiere

David Matthews

Double Concerto for violin, viola and strings

Sunday 7 July 7pm

Cheltenham Town Hall

Welsh Sinfonia, Anthony Marwood and Lawrence Power


David Onac

String Quartet No 6

Monday 8 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

Carducci Quartet


Simon Holt


Wednesday 10 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

Simon Holt and Alex Wilson


Marton Illes

Rajzok IV

Thursday 11 July 11am

Pittville Pump Room

Signum Quartet


Antony Pitts

They shall awake

Gabriel Jackson

La musique

Friday 12 July 7pm

Pittville Pump Room

The Choir of Royal Holloway and Felicity Lott


Hywel Davies

Test Ground

Friday 12 July 9.45pm

Parabola Arts Centre

Kuniko Kato


Michael Zev Gordon

The Gleam of Hidden Skies

Sunday 14 July 6pm

Cheltenham Town Hall

Toby Spence, Richard Watkins, Stephen Layton and the City of London Sinfonia


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