Old Masters inspire new music from young composers

Issued: May 2009

Young UK musicians are to have their work performed in front of the National Gallery masterpiece that inspired them to write their own compositions.

Xylophone LCO hands

Composing Through Art, a collaboration between the National Gallery and the London Chamber Orchestra (LCO), began last year when 80 young composers were set the task of writing a composition inspired by Bronzino’s painting ' An Allegory with Venus and Cupid ' (probably 1540–50).

Six of their works have now been chosen to be performed by the London Chamber Orchestra in special concerts set to take place in front of the Bronzino at the National Gallery (5 June) and at St. John’s, Smith Square (6 May).

With the help of experts, including LCO resident composer Graham Fitkin, George Fenton (composer for Planet Earth and Blue Planet) and musician David Gordon, the young composers attended an initial symposium at the National Gallery in November and over the next six months developed compositions inspired by the painting’s themes and the figures, shapes, colours, rhythms and forms found within it.

Head of Education at the National Gallery, Colin Wiggins, commented, ‘When the Gallery was founded in 1824, one of its stated aims was to provide a resource for the inspiration of young artists. Never did anyone say that this should be limited to visual artists and it is always exciting to break down barriers between different artistic disciplines. We are hopeful that the collection has inspired the music to begin where the painting ends.’

The selected scores were chosen by the LCO’s resident composer Graham Fitkin.

They are:

Daniel Kidane (b. 1986)
Royal Northern College of Music

Nathaniel David Seaman (b. 1985)
University of Hull

Benjamin Frank Vaughn (b. 1990)
Royal College of Music and Drama

Julian Bradley (b. 1985)
Bristol University

Oliver Selwood (b. 1985)
Kingston University

Rachel Lockwood (b. 1986)
Royal Northern College of Music

'An Allegory with Venus and Cupid' was chosen because of its richness of often-visceral themes and connotations, which still resonate in modern life. Notorious for its ambivalence, eroticism and obscure imagery, Bronzino’s painting is a thrilling and layered stimulus for composers.

The selected students’ work will be featured on the National Gallery website and LCO websites from July 2009.

For further press information please contact:

The National Gallery
Nicola Jeffs on 020 7747 2532 or at
nicola.jeffs@ng-london.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Concert details

Wednesday 6 May
Concert at St. John’s, Smith Square, 6pm. Tickets £5, including wine, nibbles and unreserved seat at LCO’s 7.30pm concert

Friday 5 June
Concert at the National Gallery, London, 7pm.
Room 8
Admission Free

For more information go to www.nationalgallery.org.uk or contact information@ng-london.org.uk or 0207 747 2885

Composing Through Art

Composing Through Art offers young composers the chance to write for a world-class orchestra, enabling the experimentation and development of their ensemble writing skills. Selected compositions have been recorded in a public workshop and published, and are to be given further concert performances by members of LCO in St. John’s, Smith Square and in front of 'An Allegory with Venus and Cupid' in the National Gallery.

The London Chamber Orchestra

The London Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1921, is Britain’s oldest chamber orchestra. A body of 35 performers, it has at its heart British musicians at the top of their field as soloists, leaders and principal players elsewhere in the music profession. LCO’s lynchpin is Music Director and Principal Conductor Christopher Warren-Green. Christopher’s association with LCO as Music Director began in 1988; he is now a sought-after conductor around the world.

LCO New: Explore

LCO’s new music scheme, LCO New: Explore is fast becoming a leading exponent for contemporary music in the UK. With the support of James MacMillan as Honorary Patron, and LCO Composer in Residence Graham Fitkin, LCO New: Explore aims to demystify contemporary music, encouraging and facilitating new relationships between listeners, performers and composers.

For more information contact Isobel Waller–Bridge
Isobel@lco.co.uk/020 7105 6205

The National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of Western European paintings from the late thirteenth to the early twentieth century. No other collection possesses such consistent quality, nor better tells the story of Western European painting.

The collection belongs to the nation and serves a diverse public from the UK and overseas. It is open to all, 361 days of the year, free of charge. Between 4 and 5 million people visit the National Gallery each year. Almost all of the 2,300 paintings in the National Gallery’s collection are on permanent display. The collection represents the greatest Western European painters including van Eyck, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Rubens, Velázquez, Van Dyck, Titian and Bellini. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors.

ABOUT THE COMPOSERS

Daniel Kidane (b. 1986)
Royal Northern College of Music

Daniel has previously studied at the Royal College of Music, and Saint Petersburg Conservatory. His work has been performed at the International Cello Festival, Corsham Music Festival, Horsham Music Circle, Sutton Valence Music Society and Bath Music Festival. Daniel has had commissions from the Park Lane Group, RNCM Chamber Music Festival and Manchester Camerata. Future performances include a BBC Singers workshop, and a performance of his cello duo at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre.

Benjamin Frank Vaughn (b. 1990)
Royal College of Music and Drama
There have been recent performances of his work from the Bingham String Quartet and the PM Ensemble.

Julian Bradley (b. 1985)
Bristol University
Julian is currently studying for his Masters in Composition for Film at Bristol University. Recent commissions include Be My Eyes for the Edinburgh Festival 2009.

Oliver Selwood (b. 1985)
Kingston University
Commissions include a work for the PLG Young Composers Symposium.

Rachel Lockwood (b. 1986)
Royal Northern College of Music
Previously studied at Oxford University with Robert Saxton.


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