Anna Clyne In Focus
Grammy-nominated Anna Clyne is one of the most sought-after composers of today and we’re delighted to welcome her to the RNCM this January for our In Focus festival. Hailed as a ‘composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods’ by the New York times, she collaborates across multiple disciplines working with orchestras, choreographers, filmmakers, and visual artists from across the globe.
Her creative projects highlights include The Nico Project at the Manchester International Festival, a stage work about pop icon Nico’s life that featured Clyne’s reimagining of The Marble Index for orchestra and voices performed by RNCM students. She’s also had her works performed and commissioned by some of the world’s leading arts institutions such as the Barbican, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, San Francisco Ballet, and the Sydney Opera House.
This year, she’s the Composer-in-Residence with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, and in the 2023-2024 season, she’ll serve as Composer-in-Residence for the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
1.15pm // RNCM Concert Hall
Thursday Lunchtimes: Anna Clyne in Focus
Anna Clyne Fits and Starts for cello and tape
Sabrina Giovanardi cello
Anna Clyne Shorthand for cello + string quintet
Clara Hope Simpson solo cello
Gustav Ranum, Sean Morrison violin
Rebecca Stubbs viola
Andrea Kim cello
Joana Moura double bass
James Weatherley-Buss Half-Synthetic Waltz for flute and electronics
Kira Schlosser flute
Anna Clyne Steelworks for flute, bass clarinet, percussion and tape
Naomi Robinson flute
Josh Pyman bass clarinet
Harriet Kwong percussion
Anna Clyne Fits + Starts
Fits + Starts was commissioned by the Los Angeles-based Hysterica Dance Company. The original tape version was premiered with Hysterica Dance Company at the DUMBO Dance Festival, New York in 2003, and the live version was premiered by cellist Benjamin Elton Capps at Greenfield Hall, New York in 2004. Fits + Starts has been widely performed at a range of venues including Housing Works in SoHO New York where Capps performed the work at an afternoon musical salon curated by Björk.
The tape part for Fits + Starts comprises acoustic recordings of harpsichord, cello, and viola, which have been layered, manipulated and transformed to create a backdrop for the solo cellist.
In 2012, Tzadik Records released a full album of my music, titled Blue Moth, that showcases a diverse range of electroacoustic chamber music, including Fits + Starts.
— Anna Clyne
Anna Clyne - Shorthand
Shorthand takes its title from Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Kreutzer Sonata, in which he writes, “Music is the shorthand of emotion. Emotions, which let themselves be described in words with such difficulty, are directly conveyed to man in music, and in that is its power and significance.”
The piece references two themes from Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata for violin and piano (which inspired Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata): the opening theme, as well as a second theme that Janácek also incorporated in his own String Quartet No. 1, “Kreutzer Sonata” (also inspired by Tolstoy’s novella). That second Beethoven theme inspires the opening material for Shorthand.
Shorthand exists in two forms – for solo cello and string quintet, and for solo cello and string orchestra and these are dedicated to my husband, Jody Elff.
James Weatherley-Buss - Half-Synthetic Waltz
Half-Synthetic Waltz was conceived as a dance between two characters, with one half of this strange pair a natural figure, represented by the acoustic lute, the other a synthetic construction, realised by the pitch shifting electronics that respond to the flute’s melody. The descriptor of ‘waltz’ is used, not to indicate the piece’s metre, but to illustrate the shape of the movements of the pair and their development from trepidatious strangers to partners in such a close hold that they appear to be moving as one.
Anna Clyne - Steelworks
Steelworks was commissioned by TACTUS, the contemporary music ensemble at Manhattan School of Music and premiered at Greenfield Hall in New York City. The tape part incorporates recordings of interviews with employees and machinery at Flame Cut Steelworks, the last steelworks factory in Brooklyn, which later relocated from its Williamsburg location. These recordings became the kernel for the music.
New York based visual artist Luke DuBois created a film for this work based on a 1936 industrial film steel: a symphony of industry that was sponsored by the American iron and steel institute, and is now in the public domain. Luke writes:
“The black-and-white film is laid out in a 2×2 grid on the screen, and played at more-or-less normal speed, though I did a bit of editing to remove the titles and a few other sequences in the film that didn’t focus directly on steel production. The trick is that the film is ‘scrubbed’ in reaction to the tape part of Anna’s music, with the four panes being controlled by the high and low frequencies in the left and right channels of Anna’s tape part. Loud sounds cause the film to jump forward in time slightly; quiet moments cause the film to slow down. As a result, the four panes of the movie stay more-or-less in synch, but shimmer according to the sound behind them. I then colorized and blurred the film based on the timbre of the sounds I was listening to at that moment in the piece.”
Steelworks was later choreographed by Matthew Neenan and premiered with his company, BalletX, at Wilma Theater, Philadelphia.
In 2012, Tzadik Records released a full album of my music, titled Blue Moth, that showcases a diverse range of electroacoustic chamber music, including Steelworks which features musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
— Anna Clyne
7.30pm // BBC Philharmonic Studio (MediaCityUK)
RNCM Brand New Orchestra + BBC Philharmonic:
Anna Clyne In Focus
Anna Clyne Masquerade*
Alex Chapman Breathing Chaos+
Ho Shan Lam Sunset Peak~
Audrey Lam On Edge^
Anna Clyne This Midnight Hour#
Christopher Cook Flow State*
Arthur Yuen Lunar Eclipse*
Anna Clyne Color Field*
Elena Schwarz*, Agata Zając#, Miguel Sepúlveda+, Lauren Wasynczuk^, Xinjie Yang~ conductors
Anna Clyne - Masquerade
Masquerade draws inspiration from the original mid-18th century promenade concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens. As is true today, these concerts were a place where people from all walks of life mingled to enjoy a wide array of music. Other forms of entertainment ranged from the sedate to the salacious with acrobatics, exotic street entertainers, dancers, fireworks and masquerades. I am fascinated by the historic and sociological courtship between music and dance. Combined with costumes, masked guises and elaborate settings, masquerades created an exciting, yet controlled, sense of occasion and celebration. It is this that I wish to evoke in Masquerade.
The work derives its material from two melodies. For the main theme, I imagined a chorus welcoming the audience and inviting them into their imaginary world. The second theme, Juice of Barley, is an old English country dance melody and drinking song, which first appeared in John Playford’s 1695 edition of The English Dancing Master.
It is an honor to compose music for the Last Night of the Proms and I dedicate Masquerade to the Prommers.
— Anna Clyne
Alex Chapman - Breathing Chaos
A personal journey towards non-binary identity, Breathing Chaos explores confusion and the hiding of uncertainty, as well as the hit of confidence that comes with gaining clarity on who we are. Underpinning its rhythmic drive is an established base rhythm which is delivered in its original ‘certain’ form at the end of the piece. From the silently nervous beginning, more confused yet confident rhythmic patterns gradually emerge. Moving through feelings of insecurity and confusion, true confidence hits when the instruments come together, and then finally in rhythmic unison at the end.
Ho Shan Lam - Sunset Peak
Sunset peak is a piece written about my personal journey up the summit of the peak during the beautiful season of winter in Hong Kong. It brings the listener on an adventure through the dried and desiccated trail and gives them the stunning experience of the environment at the peak. In the opening section, a constant drone introduced by muted violas, switching between sul tasto and sul ponticello, depicts the unstable winds that hits during the ascent of the peak. Further gestures by both violin sections, consist of contrary-motion movements that evoke the surrounding nature flocking around.
As the piece progresses, more lines can be heard coalescing into long held chords which is seen once the cello and double bass section joins in, increasing momentum and building the tension of the section leading into the transition and the climatic point of the piece. An overall change in atmosphere descends as the piece reaches its first apex. This can be seen as the texture of the orchestra thins down to just a single player from each section, recreating the serene and tranquil environment heard at the peak (b.73). The tempo slows down slightly, allowing the listeners to “take a breath” as the piece begins its slow and steady second build up to the final summit point.
There is a great emphasis placed on the chords used at the final climatic point, magnified by the slowed momentum and stillness of the peak, with little movement in the surrounding environment. The piece ends with a modified reprise of the introduction but recombined with altered gestures (b.128) from the beginning of the journey with a different tonality, creating the imagery of the sun setting and the start of the descent of the mountain.
Audrey Lam - On Edge
Based on the Bible story of Jesus, His disciples and the storm that He controls, On Edge explores the emotional turmoil that the disciples go through as they pass through a huge storm in sea. The piece conveys fear and anxiousness anticipating and during the storm and has a hopeful ending when Jesus calms down the storm.
This is shown through the four sections: calm, frightened, anxious and hopeful, in addition to an introduction of the piece (the fierce section), which sets the scene of the adventure Jesus and the disciples are about to go on. On Edge paints the picture of violent ocean waves as well as portrays the disciples’ wave of reactions provoked by the storm.
Anna Clyne - This Midnight Hour
The opening to This Midnight Hour is inspired by the character and power of the lower strings of L’Orchestre national d’Île de France. From here, it draws inspiration from two poems. Whilst it is not intended to depict a specific narrative, my intention is that it will evoke a visual journey for the listener.
Christopher Cook - Flow State
When fully immersed in the flow state, as described in positive psychology, it is often said that time and space around us can become irrelevant as we begin to be able to see all potential outcomes and conclusions before they become reality.
In this piece, I wanted to explore the concept of how a small change early in the development of an idea can trigger a whole series of events and the way in which flow can inform a sequence of iterative composition. The seed of the opening statement, buried deep in the opening texture, begins to form a melodic thread which is repeatedly disintegrated and reconstituted throughout the piece with each interruption to the flow characterised by fast upward sweeping phrases and biting percussion.
Through the narrative of the piece, these interruptions, which initially I’ve used to signify the difficulties associated with entering the flow state, become continuously more integrated in the overall thematic arc. These combined gestures eventually provide the impetus for the acceleration towards the end of the piece with them now unified in the fully realised flow state.
Christopher Cook is proudly supported by the Richard Newitt Fund in his studies at the RNCM.
Arthur Yuen - Lunar Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse is the third piece of an orchestral trilogy that discusses interculturality. The other two are “Music of the Misty Cloud” and “Where is the Moon?” The trilogy concept emerges from my current practice as a composer, which includes receiving tutelage from Chinese artists and finding a balance when inscribing Eastern concepts into Western classical idioms. This work begins at a high point where two cymbals play in forte, proceeding to the horns and the bassoons, introducing the motif. About a minute into the piece, the orchestra arrives at a cinematic and forceful section. The muscular brass instruments are juxtaposed by a continuous rhythm that marches the music forward. As the piece recapitulates the opening theme, the lunar completes its eclipse and slowly arrives at a tonal centre. It symbolises the resurfacing of the moon.
Anna Clyne - Color Field
The central inspiration for Color Field is a person: Melanie Sabelhaus, the honoree of this work. I began the creative process upon first meeting Sabelhaus in New York City, when I learned about her family, her Serbian roots, her work and the music she loves. She is bold, audacious, generous, and a pioneer for women in business and philanthropic work.
She also loves the color orange – in particular Hermès Orange – and thus began my exploration of color. This led me to Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow (1961) – a powerful example of the artist’s Color Field paintings, featuring red and yellow framing a massive swash of vibrant orange that seems to vibrate off the canvas.
While I explored creating music that evokes colors, I thought about synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon in which a person hears sound, pitch and tonal centers and then sees specific colors, and vice versa. In the case of composer Scriabin, he associated specific pitches with specific colors, which I have adopted as tonal centers for the three movements of this piece: Yellow = D, Red = C, Orange = G.
Each movement of Color Field weaves in elements of the life of Melanie Sabelhaus, for whom music has always been in the house. Yellow evokes a hazy warmth and incorporates a traditional Serbian melody, first heard as a very slow bass line, and then revealed in the middle of the movement in the strings and winds. In Red, the fires blaze with bold percussive patterns and lilting lines. In Orange, the music becomes still and breathes, and then escalates once more, incorporating elements of Yellow and Red to create Orange – the signature color of Melanie Sabelhaus.
–Anna Clyne, 2020
Described as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods” in a New York Times profile and as “fearless” by NPR, GRAMMY-nominated Anna Clyne is one of the most in-demand composers today, working with orchestras, choreographers, filmmakers, and visual artists around the world.
Clyne has been commissioned and presented by the world’s most dynamic and revered arts institutions, including the Barbican, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Philharmonic, MoMA, Philharmonie de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, San Francisco Ballet, and the Sydney Opera House; and her music has opened such events as the Edinburgh International Festival, The Last Night of the Proms, and the New York Philharmonic’s 2021–2022 season.
Clyne often collaborates on creative projects across the music industry, including Between the Rooms, a film with choreographer Kim Brandstrup and LA Opera, as well as the Nico Project at the Manchester International Festival, a stage work about pop icon Nico’s life that featured Clyne’s reimagining of The Marble Index for orchestra and voices. Clyne has also reimagined tracks from Thievery Corporation’s The Cosmic Game for the electronica duo with orchestra, and her music has been programmed by such artists as Björk.
Several recent projects have explored Clyne’s fascination with visual arts, including Color Field, inspired by the artwork of Mark Rothko; Abstractions, inspired by five contemporary artworks; and Woman Holding a Balance, a film collaboration with artist Jyll Bradley. Other recent collaborators include such notable musicians as Jess Gillam, Martin Fröst, Pekka Kuusisto, and Yo-Yo Ma.
In 2022–2023, Clyne serves as Composer-in-Residence with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra starting in the 2023–2024 season. Past residencies include the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Clyne’s music is represented on several labels and her works Prince of Clouds and Night Ferry were nominated for 2015 GRAMMY Awards. Her cello concerto DANCE, recorded by soloist Inbal Segev, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Marin Alsop, has garnered more than eight million plays on Spotify.
Clyne’s music is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes: www.boosey.com/clyne
Swiss-Australian conductor, Elena Schwarz is forging a reputation across different continents for her intellect, musical vision, insightful interpretations and emotional intelligence and has impressed orchestras in Germany, Scandinavia, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Australia and the USA. Forthcoming highlights including the Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the North Netherlands Orchestra, as well as the Melbourne Symphony, Queensland Symphony and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Elena Schwarz has guest conducted orchestras including the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, South Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra and the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música.
Widely admired for her advocacy of new music, she conducts world premiere performances by Peter Eötvös and George Aperghis this season as well as works by Thomas Adès and Tyshawn Sorey. She is a regular guest conductor of specialist contemporary ensembles such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble InterContemporain, MusikFabrik, Collegium Novum Zurich and the Luzern Festival Contemporary Orchestra as well as various symphony orchestras in repertoire by George Benjamin, Xenakis, Neuwirth, Berio, Donatoni, Adam Maor, Lisa Streich, Elizbieta Sikora and Francesco Filidei.
Schwarz’s operatic experience includes Hansel & Gretel at Norwegian Opera, the world premiere performances of Adam Maor’s The Sleeping Thousand at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as well as in Luxembourg and Lisbon (ENOA), and she will conduct a new production of Grieg’s Peer Gynt at Opéra de Lyon in June 2022.
Elena Schwarz was awarded 1st Prize at the Princess Astrid Competition (Trondheim 2014), 2nd Prize at the Jorma Panula Competition (Vaasa 2015) and was a former Dudamel Fellow (2018-19). She studied conducting at the Geneva Conservatoire and Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana whilst further studies brought her to Peter Eötvös and Matthias Pintscher, and masterclasses with Bernard Haitink and Neeme Järvi. She was assistant to Mikko Franck at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Marko Letonja at the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Asher Fisch at the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
Agata Zając is a Polish symphonic and opera conductor. She started her musical path as a violinist, and then completed her conducting studies at the Poznań Academy of Music. Currently, she is a D.A. student at the Academy of Music in Kraków under the guidance of Łukasz Borowicz.
Agata Zając is a former Resident Conductor of the Toruń Symphony Orchestra (2020/21) and the Sudeten Philharmonic Orchestra (2021/22). She already made her debuts abroad – recently in Musikverein Graz in Austria and Orchestre national de Metz in France. Moreover she had an opportunity to conduct many Polish orchestras incl. Poznań Philharmonic, Opole Philharmonic, Zielona Góra Philharmonic, Schumann Youth Orchestra and Archetti Chamber Orchestra. Since 2018, as an assistant conductor she has been collaborating with Warsaw Chamber Opera in premieres of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serai, Idomeneo and Halka of Stanislaw Moniuszko. In 2019 she was assisting to Greek conductor Michalis Economou in his international projects with Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Greek National Radio Orchestra and Athens Philharmonia Orchestra.
She participated in many international conducting masterclasses – with Jaap van Zweden, Johannes Schlaefli, Peter Eötvös, Mark Heron, Marin Alsop, David Reiland as teachers. She was a student of the Gstaad Conducitng Academy in 2021. She was invited to many international competitions and auditions – at most of them she reached the finals (Göteborg Opera, Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, Warsaw Philharmonic, NOSPR). At the Malta International Conducting Masterclass & Competition (2018) and International Conducting Competition Città di Brescia (2021) she received special distinctions. She was the participant of the last Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition where she had an opportunity to rehearse with the London Symphony Orchestra.
In 2018 she was awarded with a scholarship of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland.
In the 2022/23 season Agata Zając is the Mills Williams Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
Miguel Sepúlveda is a Portuguese conductor. He started his musical studies at the age of 13, completing his conservatory studies on piano in fewer years than regularly assigned. Throughout those years, he had the pleasure of working for ‘CCB Classical Summer’ and even playing in concert with the Shostakovich Ensemble alongside brilliant musicians such as Adrien Brendel, Pascal Moraguès, Benjamin Schmid, Jan Bjøranger, Lars Anders Tomter, among others. After that he initiated his studies in Orchestral Conducting with Jean-Marc Burfin at ANSO, where he regularly conducted the Academy Orchestra on several concerts. He has participated in Masterclasses with conductors Pedro Neves, Enrico Onofri, and Mariusz Smolij. In recent years, Miguel has had his first professional experiences with Orquestra Clássica do Sul (guest conducting) and Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra (assistant conducting). Recently he won the 2nd Prize at The International Conducting Academy.
Manchester, UK based American conductor, Lauren Wasynczuk’s unique career path to conducting has already spanned many octaves in music including performance, music education and community engagement, development, marketing and artistic direction. Having worked in a variety of roles in a performing arts organization, Lauren brings a holistic perspective, vision and a deep commitment to serving as as a 21st-century citizen artist who seeks to understand their communities politically, economically and culturally.
Lauren began her professional career as a classically trained saxophonist, having learned extensively from the teachings of the French and American School of Saxophone. She was a founding member and alto saxophonist of the nationally recognized La’Ventus Quartet. Described as “a choice ensemble that plays with style and elegance”, La’Ventus was a winner in the world’s most prestigious chamber music competitions, including the Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition and the American Prize in Chamber Music Performance Competition.
As a conductor, she has collaborated with youth to professionals in a variety of settings including wind band, symphony orchestra, opera and choral ensembles in the United States, Europe and United Kingdom. Her past work includes serving as Guest Conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony (Santa Monica, CA), Director of the Concert Band at University of California Riverside (Riverside, CA), Artistic & Ensembles Director of Young Musicians Foundation (Los Angeles, CA), Assistant/Cover Conductor of Opera San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, CA), Assistant Director of the Yevshan Ukrainian Vocal Ensemble (Hartford, Connecticut), Guest Conductor of the Westlake Village Symphony (Westlake Village, CA) and Cover/Assistant Conductor of the Marina del Rey Symphony Summer Concert Series. She was Conducting Fellow with Miami Symphony Orchestra (Miami, FL), Allentown Symphony Orchestra (Allentown, PA) and Saratoga Orchestra (Whidbey Island, WA). Lauren previously served on the Board of Directors for Chamber Music Palisades (Pacific Palisades, CA) and on the Development Committee for the American International Paderewski Piano Competition.
Recent highlights in the UK include assistantships with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Psappha and serving as a Leverhulme Arts Scholar with Opera North. Upcoming engagements for the 2022/23 season include her ballet conducting debut with Northern Ballet’s production of The Great Gatsby and serving as Conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Rooted in the belief that access to music education is an essential right, Lauren has worked with non-profit arts organizations as well as under-resourced schools and community programs, providing access to high quality music education in communities in need of support for arts programming. Lauren is passionate about designing and delivering inclusive and relevant performance projects across a wide array of contexts, while also creating new spaces for creative musical exploration integrating technology. Despite the global fight against the challenges of COVID-19, Lauren embraced this period to embark on new artistic developments combining electronic sound, visuals and performance. With the increasing demand for new ways to keep performance alive during the pandemic, Lauren was selected by the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) as one of seven college band directors to serve as Panelist for their webinar series: Virtual Performing in Real-Time.
Currently, Lauren is pursuing her Master of Music in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester, UK). She received her Master of Music in Saxophone Performance from The Hartt School (West Hartford, CT), graduating as a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society, and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo, CA).
Xinjie Yang is a Chinese conductor., born in 1998.
She plays Piano and Erhu (Chinese traditional instrument).She was admitted to the China Conservatory of Music Conducting Department in 2016 with first overall ranking.
From 2016-2021, She has collaborated with many orchestras in China including: L’elisir d’amore produced by CCOM and China Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Beethoven Concerto No.2 with piano department and Orchestra Academia China, Má Vlast – Blanik with Tianjin Symphony Orchestra. In the graduation concert held in 2021, she conducted Beethoven Symphony No.7 with the Orchestra Academia China, and many contemporary works with chamber ensembles.
Since arriving in the UK she has conducted a wide range of RNCM orchestras and ensembles, the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, and Psappha.
Anna Banaszkiewicz-Maher Robert Bates
Alex Webber Garcia
Marina Vidal Valle
Marcelo Nunes Rodrigues
Jennifer Hutchinson (picc)
Gillian Callow (cor)
Marianne Rawles (bass)
Bill Anderson (contra)
Gary Farr Sub