We combine ancient and modern sound worlds through the work of three contemporary composers who are fascinated with the music of the past: Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly and Anna Meredith.
Since becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2013, American composer Caroline Shaw has gone on to establish herself as one of the most sought-after musical talents of her generation, with collaborators ranging from Nas and Arcade Fire to Renée Fleming, Anne Sofie von Otter and her own a cappella group Roomful of Teeth. Kings Place has co-commissioned Shaw’s new work for Aurora, whose scoring for strings and harpsichord speaks to her lifelong fascination with baroque music. Described by the New York Times as ‘a brilliant pianist [who] combines musical maturity and youthful daring in his exceptional playing’, soloist Kit Armstrong also performs Bach’s D minor keyboard concerto in this programme.
Nico Muhly’s work also exhibits a fascination with the past: some of his most affecting music has involved shimmering instrumental arrangements of the renaissance choral music of his childhood as a boy chorister, shot through with gorgeous harmonic suspensions, deep nostalgia, and a sense of rapture. Continuing a partnership with Muhly dating back more than a decade, Aurora presents the UK premiere of his All perfections keep, arrangements for solo trombone and string quartet of the sixteenth-century lute song I saw my lady weep by John Dowland.
Completing this trio of contemporary works is Anna Meredith’s Anno (2016), a vivid 21st-century reimagining of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for strings, harpsichord and electronics. Meredith takes excerpts from Vivaldi’s much-loved music and edits, loops, deconstructs, re-orders and re-interprets them, weaving these fragments together with her own interstitial music, drum machine cross-rhythms and sound effects including recorded birdsong. The result is something at once familiar and wholly new, into which the audience is deeply immersed through surround-sound amplification (provided for this concert by D&B Audio).