Judith Weir receives Queen's Medal
13th December 2007
The presentation took place at a special ceremony at the Royal Academy of Music on December 13.
Judith Weir is the third recipient of this award which was introduced in 2005, and is made annually to an individual (or group of musicians) who is judged to have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation. The two previous recipients are Sir Charles Mackerras and Bryn Terfel.
1.JUDITH WEIR ‘s interests in narrative, folklore and theatre have found expression in a wide range of musical invention. She is the composer and librettist of three operas ( A Night at the Chinese Opera , The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert ). She has worked on numerous film and music collaborations with Margaret Williams, the most recent being Armida , a 1-hour television opera commissioned by Channel 4. During a period in the 1990s she was resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and wrote several new works for orchestra and chorus (including Forest and We are Shadows ). Weir has also been commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra ( Music, Untangled and Natural History ) the Minnesota Orchestra ( The Welcome Arrival of Rain ) and Carnegie Hall ( woman.life.song , a song cycle written for Jessye Norman.)
Judith Weir was born into a Scottish family in 1954, but grew up near London. She was an oboe player, performing with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and had a few composition lessons with John Tavener during her schooldays. She attended Cambridge University, where her composition teacher was Robin Holloway, and on leaving there spent several years as a community musician in rural southern England. She then returned to Scotland to work as a university teacher in Glasgow. Since the 1990s she has been based in London, and was artistic director of the Spitalfields Festival for six years. She has continued to teach, most recently as Fromm Foundation Visiting Professor at Harvard University during 2004, and at present, as a Research Professor in Composition at Cardiff University.
The 2007-8 season sees the world premieres of I’ve turned the page… (for piano solo, the test piece for the Scottish International Piano Competition); Winter Song (for chamber orchestra, premiered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Oliver Knussen); and CONCRETE , an extended motet written for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. This piece will form the finale of the BBC Barbican Weekend entitled 'Telling the Tale' devoted to Judith Weir’s work of the last 30 years, during which there will also be a performance of her 1990 opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom . A Night at the Chinese Opera will be in Scottish Opera’s 2008 repertoire, and there will be new productions of Blond Eckbert in Innsbruck, Vienna and Berlin. A CD of her orchestral music recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, will be released by NMC in January 2008.
2. The nominating process for the recipient of the medal is overseen by a Music Committee under the chairmanship of the Master of The Queen's Music.
The committee members are Michael Berkeley, Nicholas Kenyon, William Lyne, the Honourable Sir Humphrey Maud, Richard Morrison and Lord Moser.
3. The 75mm medal has been designed by Bethan Williams and is cast in silver. All costs relating to the medal are funded by the Privy Purse.