Winter Festival Staff Pick: London Contemporary Orchestra

This year at our Winter Festival, the London Contemporary Orchestra bring us the world premiere performance of Martin Suckling’s ‘de sol y grana.’ This week Abigail Pogson, Spitalfields Music’s Executive Director, shares her excitement for this very special occasion…

London Contemporary Orchestra

London Contemporary Orchestra at Covent Garden © Jane Stockdale

Our Festival starts and ends with young performers – London Contemporary Orchestra and La Nuova Musica both have growing reputations as ensembles of fantastic young musicians who are performing music to the highest standards and in a contemporary way. The big difference, of course, is that George Frideric Handel is unlikely to be around to advise David Bates and his musicians, whereas Martin Suckling will be on hand to work with Hugh Brunt and the LCO musicians as they prepare the world premiere of his piece to open the Festival.

A world premiere is always a special occasion. What could be more exciting than being present as a new piece of music moves between a group of musicians and an audience for the first time. I like to think that the space between the two groups has a very special quality on these occasions!  The first performance of Messiah received a luke-warm reception in Dublin and it was only after its London premiere a year later that it started to establish itself. It seems unlikely that Handel would ever have dreamed that the piece would become what it is today in Western culture. But then perhaps this is not necessarily foremost in a composer’s mind as they create a piece of music.

I first heard Martin’s music when he was on the spnm Shortlist which, each year, represented a group of composers who were ‘breaking through’ and offered them a helping hand in this process. The clarity and unique personality of Martin’s music was distinct even then and (having not heard recent new works) it will be fantastic to hear his music six years down the line. The LCO musicians – his own generation – will surely do a wonderful job of premiering the work.  After only three years as an orchestra they have built up an impressive track record in premiering new works and in performing contemporary classics. Indeed for their concert to open the Festival they have chosen stunning works by French composers Claude Vivier and Gerard Grisey to accompany the world premiere.

I’ll be there for the Handel and I’m sure it will be fantastic, but I’ll also be there for the Suckling and I’ve got no idea what it will be. What could be more exciting!

The London Contemporary Orchestra will be performing at our Winter Festival on Monday 12 December 2011 from 7.00pm to 8.30pm at Shoreditch Church.  To book tickets please click here.


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