New Music Takes Centre Stage at Wigmore Hall this Autumn

Wed 23 Aug 2023

20 World/UK Premières to include the First 'Voices of Today' Commission by Stewart Goodyear

A new work for solo piano by the Canadian pianist and composer Stewart Goodyear receives its world première at London’s Wigmore Hall on Saturday 23 September 2023. Performed by Goodyear himself, making his Wigmore Hall debut, it is the first of 16 new ‘Voices of Today’ works commissioned to support composers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The work is inspired by Robert Frost’s 1914 poem Mending Wall which, as Goodyear explains, "describes change and the struggle of humanity to embrace it. During the pandemic, traditional thoughts of "fences making good neighbors" were challenged, the divisions that keep people apart finally out in the open.” A renowned interpreter of Beethoven, Goodyear performs Mending Wall alongside Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” sonata which “depicts this struggle similarly, as it wrestles between the past and future traditions of music, and inevitably breaks the wall separating the two."

Seeking as diverse a group as possible, Wigmore Hall invited applications from composers all over the world, aged 18 and up, never commissioned by the Hall before. From 700 submissions, 16 winning ‘Voices of Today’ composers, aged between 24 and 63, were selected by a panel of fellow composers across two rounds. Three more 'Voices of Today' works will be premièred in the new year, and the remaining dozen can be heard, four a season, until 2027.

Wigmore Hall Director, John Gilhooly, said,

Wigmore Hall's commitment to championing new music and supporting all the diversity in classical music comes sharply into focus this autumn. From Errollyn Wallen, performing here for the first time, to our day devoted to Laurence Osborn in November, today's music is there. I am especially pleased to present the first work commissioned through our 'Voices of Today' programme in September. By creating this platform for composers to share their unique perspectives and push boundaries, we will showcase new voices, brimming with originality and challenging us all to listen afresh. I am hugely grateful to the Marchus Trust for supporting us in this major new initiative.

Goodyear’s world première comes during an autumn with an abundance of new music at Wigmore Hall, including 20 world & UK premières.

Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen, who was on the judging panel for the ‘Voices of Today’ commissioning programme, makes her Wigmore Hall performing debut on 28 October singing from her own Errollyn Wallen Songbook. With improvisation at their heart, Wallen writes many of her songs, she has said, as a “bare skeleton, designed to act as a springboard for flights of fancy,” by the performer, “whether from a pop, classical, folk, or jazz background.” Her music is also performed by soprano Ruby Hughes (16 Sep) and Dame Sarah Connolly (3 Nov).

On 25 November, three concerts are devoted to the composer Laurence Osborn whose music, full of originality and humour, won him a Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize in 2017. With a lineup including the Britten Sinfonia, the Castalian String Quartet, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, and the Marian Consort, two world premières are performed – a new Wigmore Hall-commissioned string quartet and, in collaboration with the poet Joseph Minden, a new work for vocal ensemble – plus the London première of Coin Op Automata, which he describes as “a series of little mechanical tableaux,” inspired by “all sorts of coin-operated machines”. It is performed alongside Osborn’s works Rendering Error and Automaton, interspersed with music by CPE Bach.

Joseph Phibbs’s music is the focus of two concerts on Saturday 8 October featuring the Piatti Quartet. Joined by cellist Tim Lowe, they première Phibbs’s Wigmore Hall-commissioned first string quintet and they perform his Cantus, inspired by a Bach Cantata, at 2pm. Earlier in the day, the Piattis perform his first string quartet, which was written for them. Joined by saxophonist Huw Wiggin, pianist Noriko Ogawa and cellist Guy Johnston the programme also features an elegy in memory of Phibb’s teacher, the American composer Steven Stucky.

Brad Mehldau's 14 Reveries (20 Sep) and I Saw a Peacock by Brian Elias (28 Dec), both commissioned by Wigmore Hall, are premièred and Australian Brett Dean (2023/24 Composer in Residence) conducts Wigmore Hall Associate Artists Apartment House and Irish tenor Robin Tritschler in a programme featuring Dean’s work Winter Songs, and music by Peter Maxwell Davies and Hans Abrahamsen (6 Nov).

Sir George Benjamin and Ensemble Modern (12 Sep), string quartet Brooklyn Rider (13 Sep), pianist Jeremy Denk (15 Sep) and string group 12 Ensemble (16 Sep), all leading contemporary music specialists, will all appear this autumn at Wigmore Hall. Amongst the 65 works this autumn by composers working today are two by Wigmore Hall Associate Artist Héloïse Werner, including a new companion piece to Schumann’s song cycle Dichterliebe (23 Oct) as well as new works by Sally Beamish (27 Oct), Jonathan Dove (7 Nov), Oliver Leith (16 Sep), Thea Musgrave (9 Nov), Steve Reich (20 Nov) and others.