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Home > New Music Biennial 2017 Commissions announced!

We’re delighted to announce the commissions that have been selected for the New Music Biennial 2017!

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The winning commissions present a snapshot of contemporary music in the UK including ten brand new works and ten pre-existing works that have been composed within the last 15 years.

The New Music Biennial includes new music from across all genres: from classical and chamber opera to jazz, folk, electronic and music for brass band and organ. Works will be no longer than 15 minutes in duration in response to the New Music Biennial‘s aim to create a pop-up, interactive way for audiences to discover new music and be able to hear the pieces more than once.

Many of the winning new commissions such as Errollyn Wallen’s Mighty River orchestral work, that draws inspiration from the work of William Wilberforce in Hull and GoGo Penguin’s Abstractions of the Industrial North, resonate with one of the themes of Hull UK City of Culture (Made in Hull, Roots and Routes, Freedom, Tell the World). Several of the commissioning partners including Freedom Festival, Jnights and Opera North are based in Hull or the surrounding region. Yorkshire born composers such as Daniel Elms, Gavin Bryars and Eliza Carthy, who has strong family links to the city, are working on new pieces which explore the identity of the city and surrounding landscape and Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer and song collector Sam Lee exploring vernacular folk song in Hull City.

Other commissions featured in the New Music Biennial simply reflect the exceptional talent and breadth of composers in the UK.  This includes composer Simon Holt’s new clarinet concerto for 2006’s BBC Young Musician of the Year Mark Simpson, commissioned by BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Emily Hall’s new Opera for children and Tom Jenkinson’s (Squarepusher) The Secret Life of Organs showcasing the potential for these incredible instruments beyond traditional organ music. (See full list below).

The winning compositions were selected by a panel of judges that included Vanessa Reed (Executive Director, PRS for Music Foundation), Judith Weir (Master of the Queen’s Music), Sara Mohr-Pietsch (BBC Radio 3 Hear and Now presenter) Sam Hunt (Executive Producer, Hull UK City of Culture), Gillian Moore MBE (Director of Music, Southbank Centre), Kevin Le Gendre (Broadcaster and journalist) and chaired by BBC Radio 3 Controller, Alan Davey.

The commissions will receive public performances throughout the UK in 2017, culminating in two celebration weekends in Hull on 1 & 2 July as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and 7- 9 July at London’s Southbank Centre.


The winning commissions are:

Sam Lee – Hullucination

Commissioned by The Nest Collective


Emily Hall – Witchsong

Commissioned by Mahogany Opera Group


Daniel Elms – Bethia

Commissioned by British Film Institute


Peter Edwards – A Journey with the Giants of Jazz

Commissioned by Turner Sims, Southampton


Ray Lee – Ring Out

Commissioned by Oxford Contemporary Music


Simon Holt – Concerto for clarinet & Orchestra

Commissioned by BBC Philharmonic Orchestra


Mica Levi – New work for the BBC Concert Orchestra

Commissioned by BBC Concert Orchestra


Gavin Bryars – Holderness or Spurn Head

Commissioned by Opera North


Eliza Carthy in collaboration with the Moulettes – Rivers and Railways

Commissioned by Freedom Festival


GoGo Penguin – Abstractions of the Industrial North

Commissioned by J-night Jazz Promoters



Existing works:

Jason Singh & Anne Martin (UK) with Sharat Chandra Srivastava, Gyan Singh (India) – Ceumannan – Footsteps. 2.

Commissioned by Atlas Arts

Performed by Anne Martin, Jason Singh, Sharat Chandra Srivastava, Gyan Singh and Joe Harrison


Brian Irvine & Jennifer Walshe – 13 VICES

Commissioned by Moving on Music

Performed by Brian Irvine, Jennifer Walshe & Red Note Ensemble


Errollyn Wallen – Mighty River

Commissioned by Oxford Contemporary Music


Philip Venables & David Hoyle – Illusions

Commissioned by London Sinfonietta


Anna Meredith – Concerto for Beatboxer & orchestra

Commissioned by Southbank Centre


Hannah Peel – Tubular Brass featuring Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia

Commissioned by Tubular Brass


Mark Simpson – 25th anniversary piece for the Gould Piano Trio

Commissioned by Glen Gould Trio (Welsh based)


Laurence Crane – Pieces About Art

Commissioned by EXAUDI


Tom Jenkinson – The Secret Life of Organs

Commissioned by No Nation and James McVinnie

Performed by James McVinnie


Jocelyn Pook – Anxiety Fanfare and Variation for Voices

Commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation


Check out the details to all 20 of the selected New Music Biennial 2017 commissions.