The Music of Simon Holt

As he approaches his sixtieth birthday in 2018, the publication of a new book, performances of his orchestral pieces and several recent recordings throw a spotlight on to the ingenious and enigmatic musical world of composer Simon Holt.

The Music of Simon Holt
, edited by David Charlton and published by The Boydell Press, is the first comprehensive study of the composer’s music and gives an overview of his work up to 2015. It features contributions from academics and musicians who consider various aspects of Holt’s work. These include Stephen Gutman on the piano music, Melinda Maxwell on works for oboe and cor anglais and Thierry Fischer on Holt’s orchestral music. Other essays focus on individual works such as The Yellow Wallpaper (Steph Power) and Icarus trilogy (Edward Venn) or wider themes and influences in his music (Julia Bardsley, David Charlton). Anthony Gilbert contributes an account of Holt’s years as his composition student, as well as a study of the Lorca settings.

Holt celebrates his sixtieth birthday in February next year and several performances are planned to mark the occasion. Colin Currie will perform the percussion concerto a table of noises with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by John Storgårds on February 17 at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. In Cardiff, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (where Holt was Composer in Residence from 2008 to 2014) will present the UK premiere of an icicle of moon conducted by B Tommy Andersson at Hoddinott Hall on February 22. Also on the programme is St Vitus in the Kettle, the work commissioned for the hall’s opening concert in 2009.

Earlier this year, a disc of Holt’s orchestral music featuring a table of noises, St Vitus in the Kettle and the violin concerto witness to a snow miracle was released by NMC Recordings. The recording, performed by the Hallé conducted by Nicholas Collon with percussionist Colin Currie and violinist Chloë Hanslip, has received excellent reviews, with both the Guardian and Telegraph singling out witness to a snow miracle as one of the most significant orchestral works of the last 30 years.

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