The music of Judith Weir is widely recognised for its colour, lyricism, wit and economy of means, and this autumn, a series of premieres around the UK will give audiences the opportunity to enjoy the ingenuity and versatility of this celebrated composer.
Orchestral and Chamber music
Whether writing on a large or small scale, for professionals or amateurs, Weir's pieces always have a story to tell. 'The composition of an Oboe Concerto had an almost autobiographical significance for me,' says the composer of the instrument she grew up playing. Her 2018 concerto receives its European premiere on September 27, when it will be performed by its dedicatee Celia Craig and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Andrew Gourlay in Cardiff. Later in the year, the piece will be heard in London for the first time when it is performed by oboist Nicholas Daniel and the BBC Symphony Orchestra on December 13.
Soprano Ruby Hughes, cellist Natalie Clein and pianist Julius Drake will give the world premiere of On the Palmy Beach at Kings Place, London, on October 24. An exotic maritime theme runs through the piece, which features poems by Wallace Stevens, Kathleen Jaimie, Norman McCaig and Emily Dickinson.
Weir’s latest choral work, blue hills beyond blue hills, is a substantial 35-minute setting of poetry by Scottish writer Alan Spence, which contemplates the passing of the year and the passage of human life. The piece is a product of Weir’s continuing role as Associate Composer with the BBC Singers, who will premiere the work with the Ligeti Quartet in a concert conducted by Sofi Jeannin at Milton Court, London, on October 18.
On November 2 singers of all ages will join together to premiere The Big Picture, which has been commissioned to celebrate the re-opening of Aberdeen Art Gallery. Led by Con Anima chamber choir, singers from local choirs will perform from various locations around the building in a rousing celebration of the newly-refurbished public space.
Oboe Concerto – European Premiere
Celia Craig, oboe
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Andrew Gourlay, conductor
BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
blue hills beyond blue hills – World Premiere
BBC Singers; Ligeti Quartet
Sofi Jeannin, conductor
Milton Court, Barbican, London
On the Palmy Beach – World Premiere
Ruby Hughes, soprano
Natalie Clein, cello
Julius Drake, piano
Kings Place, London
The Big Picture – World Premiere
Con Anima chamber choir and local performers
Joanna Nicholson, clarinet
Lisa Nicol, percussion
Jeremy Coleman, piano
Roger B. Williams and John Horton, conductors
Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland
Oboe Concerto – London Premiere
Nicholas Daniel, oboe
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Rafael Payare, conductor
Barbican Concert Hall, London
CD release: Airs from another Planet
Available from October 25, this portrait album featuring the Hebrides Ensemble and soprano Ailish Tynan presents an engaging survey of Weir’s chamber music.
Composing Myself... Judith Weir
Judith Weir talks about her early life as a composer, her curiosity about audiences and how playing music can bring people together in this video interview from 2018.
Photo credits: Benjamin Ealovega