Front page > News > 34th Time of Music Festival presents Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Ensemble Modern

34th Time of Music Festival presents Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Ensemble Modern

Year 2015 edition of Time of Music Festival brings to Viitasaari, Finland two great names of contemporary British music, Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Brian Ferneyhough. The 80-year-old Birtwistle is no doubt one of the most distinguished living composers in the world. Along his prize-winning compositions, Ferneyhough is widely recognized as one of today’s foremost pedagogues, and he will be teaching at the composer course at the festival. The main guest ensemble is Ensemble Modern, Germany’s leading contemporary music ensemble. Time of Music Summer Academy courses deal with composition, improvisation, ensemble playing and percussions.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle will be visiting Viitasaari Festival for the first time, and his music will be played extensively in the festival programme. He is best known for his large scale operas played in England and abroad, for example in Salzburg and Holland Festivals. His music has been interpreted by Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim among others, and he has received several prizes, of which most noteworthy are the Grawemayer Award and Ernst von Siemens Music Prize. The composer will be in Time of Music for rehearsals and performances of his pieces as well as discussions open to public.

Brian Ferneyhough is widely recognized as one of today’s foremost living composers and pedagogues, with whom many of our contemporary composers have studied. Born in England, he lives in the US and holds the William H. Bonsall Professorship of composition in Stanford University. He has been associated with the most prestigious teaching institutions and international summer schools for contemporary music such as Darmstadt, Fondation Royaumont, Cambridge and Harvard. Ferneyhough has visited Time of Music Festival in 1993 and now he returns as a guest composer and to teach the composer course. His music will be heard in the programme interpreted by many of the festival’s performers.

One of the largest residencies in the history of Time of Music is the long visit of Ensemble Modern. Ensemble Modern, founded in 1980 and based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, is internationally considered one of the best ensembles of contemporary music. They return to Finland first time after 1980s and play several concerts at the festival. One of the pieces in repertoire is Theseus Game by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, composed for 30 musicians and 2 conductors. It was premiered by Ensemble Modern in 2003 in Ruhrtriennale and will be performed by orchestra that consists of ensemble playing course attendees and musicians of Ensemble Modern. The work is one of the best known pieces of Birtwistle’s later period and not yet heard in Finland.

Time of Music is extending its Summer Academy Courses in the future. In 2015, in addition to composer course taught by Brian Ferneyhough and ensemble course mentored by Ensemble Modern, the festival offers courses in improvisation and for percussionists. Course for percussionists will be taught by Steven Schick, one of the most esteemed percussionists and pedagogues of our time. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. The course will prepare and perform the minimalist masterpiece, Steve Reich’s “Drumming” and percussion ritual “For O, for O, The Hobby-Horse is Forgot” by Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Improvisation course is taught by trombonist, composer and author George E. Lewis. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur Fellowship and a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971. Lewis has worked with Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrahams and Evan Parker and has been honored with the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States.

Time of Music is a partner at Ulysses Network Project funded by EU commission, through which the festival has realized for example multiartistic course by Peter Ablinger, several productions and commissions from composers like Sami Klemola, Jarkko Hartikainen and Ville Raasakka. During 2015 the Ulysses Network Project will bring to Viitasaari the French contemporary music string quartet Quatuor Diotima and two very interesting ensembles by young musicians, Ensemble Nikel from Israel and Dutch Looptail.

Time of Music June 30 – July 5, 2015. The whole programme will be published in April 2015.