New Music

Wigmore Hall further expands ambitious commissioning scheme

Wigmore Hall redoubles its commitment to new chamber compositions in the seasons ahead with an extensive programme of commissions and co-commissions. Fondation Hoffmann’s major commissioning gift continues to bear fruit with forthcoming premieres of new works by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Wolfgang Rihm, Magnus Lindberg, Sebastian Currier and Judith Weir.

newmusic juliananderson cMauriceFoxall'Nothing lasts, unless it is incessantly renewed', Charles de Gaulle once observed. The twin spirits of tradition and renewal are ever present at Wigmore Hall, where masterworks of the chamber music canon find fresh interpretations and major additions to the repertoire are brought to life. Our 2014/15 Season is set to deliver more than thirty world and national premieres together with an extensive survey of the work of Wolfgang Rihm. The tally of first performances alone underlines the Hall’s status as a leading commissioner of chamber music compositions. Likewise, the range of composers represented and the inventive quality of their scores bear witness to the value of Wigmore Hall’s contribution to the creation of new works.

Wigmore Hall’s commitment to contemporary music is reflected in its long and distinguished history of presenting the world and UK premières of works by living composers. The Hall’s archives contain first performance details for works such as Elgar’s Piano Quintet and String Quartet (1919); Vaughan Williams’s Household Music (1941); Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (1942), Serenade for tenor, horn and strings (1943), String Quartet No.2 (1945) and Holy Sonnets of John Donne (1945), and more recent works by, among others, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Elliott Carter, Alexander Goehr, Simon Holt, James MacMillan, Colin Matthews, David Matthews, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Mark-Anthony Turnage. The account of UK performances given at Wigmore Hall includes Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared and Sonata for violin and piano; Bartók’s six string quartets; Schoenberg’s String Quartet No.2; Debussy’s Violin Sonata; Copland’s Contrasts, and Richard Strauss’s Sextet from Capriccio.

newmusic brettdean cPawelKopczynskiThe range and amount of new music presented at Wigmore Hall was strengthened eight years ago with the launch of a programming policy dedicated to contemporary chamber music and song. Wigmore Hall Director John Gilhooly signalled his intent in 2008 by appointing Luke Bedford as the venue’s first composer-in-residence. Days and series devoted to the work of living composers, Elliott Carter, Brett Dean, Kevin Volans, James MacMillan and Jörg Widmann among them, gave momentum to a project that has swiftly established Wigmore Hall’s status as a leading international centre for new chamber music and song.

newmusic nicomuhly cPeterRossWigmore Hall’s new music programming reflects the ambitious scope of its commissioning and co-commissioning plans, underpinned since 2008 by transformational funding from the Fondation Hoffmann and the wholehearted support of its President, Swiss businessman, conservationist and philanthropist, André Hoffmann.

The Hall’s list of recent world firsts contains landmark compositions by everyone from Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, György Kurtág and Thea Musgrave to Julian Anderson, Dai Fujikura, Martin Suckling and Mark-Anthony Turnage. Thanks to Fondation Hoffman’s commissioning gift, Wigmore Hall is set to present the premieres of new scores by, among others, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Magnus Lindberg, Sebastian Currier and, Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir during the 2014/15 Season. Future Wigmore Hall/Fondation Hoffmann commissions include works by John Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, Dai Fujikura, Nico Muhly and Bruno Mantovani. 

Partnership with Fondation Hoffmann

'I felt it would be a good idea for the Fondation to support something at Wigmore Hall over a period of years, and John Gilhooly suggested providing a budget that would allow a serious attempt to develop contemporary chamber music and song repertoire there, with a European impact in terms of co-commissioning and touring.

John and I were very eager to do this and there was a meeting of minds between us. Wigmore Hall not only offers an ideal context where new work is introduced by fine artists before a large audience but also creates co-commissions with other concert halls, concert series and festivals. This gives these works the chance to become established in the repertoire.'

André Hoffman

New Music in Forthcoming Seasons

New scores by Helen Grime, Rebecca Saunders and Huw Watkins are among other works scheduled to be premiered at the venue in future seasons, as well as closer relationships with Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the JACK Quartet.

'We are redoubling our efforts to commission new chamber works over the years ahead. Our commissioning scheme, thanks to our relationship with Fondation Hoffmann and co-commissions with other partners, is already the most extensive in Europe for chamber music. It will continue to develop and grow as an integral part of Wigmore Hall’s programming. We plan to present up to 25 commissions per season from 2013 and make Wigmore Hall one of the world’s foremost centres for contemporary chamber music.'

John Gilhooly