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New Berkeley works this year
This is a busy year for Michael and his music: Following a very successful concert on Good Friday at Blythburgh Church as part of the Aldeburgh Easter Music Festival, Touch Light and the Lennox Berkeley Stabat Mater move to the Spitalfields and Cheltenham Festivals with Michael's Catch Me If You Can in the London concert and his Clarinet Quintet at Cheltenham. Next comes the World Premiere of his Violin Concerto at the Proms and then in August new piano pieces, Haiku, for the Presteigne Festival (where the Clarinet Quintet will again be heard but with different players). For more details of these and several other dates and the artists involved please go to our Events page.
Marian Consort & Berkeley Ensemble at Spitalfields Music Festival
Two of the country’s leading young ensembles come together to explore bold and fiendish music by Michael Berkeley and his father Lennox. Plus works by the current Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir and young composers Matthew Martin and Hilary Campbell.
At the heart of the programme is one of Lennox Berkeley’s finest and most substantial sacred works, the Stabat Mater, a stunning depiction of the human predicament centring on Mary’s suffering during Christ’s crucifixion.
The evening begins with a pre-concert talk at 19:00 by Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny.
Edgelands is a cross-arts exhibition at St. Marylebone Parish Church Crypt, running from 14 April to 30 June 2016.
With six artists, twelve dancers, one viola player and the roar of the Marylebone Road traffic, the line-up is one of the more unusual cross-arts performances in London this spring.
The exhibition works explore and document the wastelands and neglected environs found on the margins of urban living. The dancers explore the spaces in and around the steps of the magnificent St. Marylebone Parish Church portico during the evening rush hour, with the accompanying sound of Michael's solo viola piece 'Odd Man Out'. The music provides a powerful, edgy soundscape. Moving down to the crypt there is a quiet coming together of sound, space and paintings.
Edgelands is a name dreamt up some 20 years ago to describe aspects of the changing face of Britain. The dance performance, choreographed by Lizzi Kew-Ross, is a realisation of the visual artists’ work and Kew Ross’s three-dimensional interpretations of mark and content.
A U.K. wide tour of the Edgelands exhibition will take place during 2016/17.
Michael's Touch Light is an exquisite meditation on Monteverdi and Purcell. In a concert at Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh, Suffolk on March 25, it was partnered with Lennox Berkeley’s stark and affecting Stabat Mater – the setting of the medieval poem reflecting on the suffering of Christ’s mother by the Cross – commissioned by (and dedicated to) Britten, who conducted its UK premiere in the church nearly 70 years ago. Also on the programme was Lennox Berkeley’s a cappella Mass, Britten’s own settings of medieval poetry and the quicksilver exuberance of his youthful Sinfonietta. Performed by the Marian Consort and the Berkeley Ensemble, conducted by David Wordsworth.
After the performance the ensembles moved to Snape Maltings to record the Stabat Mater and Touch Light, together with Lennox Berkeley's Mass for five voices for Delphian Records, for release in June 2016.
Conducted by Thomas Van Haeperen, an ensemble from the European Contemporary Composers Orchestra (ECCO) performed six 21st century pieces by different European composers selected by the ECCO Artistic Committee, including Michael's Musical Chairs. Aiming to establish itself as a pan-European 'body of sound' dedicated to the performance, circulation and promotion of contemporary art music, ECCO had two very successful concerts in 2015 featuring ensembles such as Sturm und Klang and the BBC Singers.
The concert took place at the Flagey Cultural Center, Flageyplein, Brussels, on Tuesday 16 February 2016.
Angela Hewitt performs Cabaret Song in Vienna
Ian McEwan reads from his current book 'The Children Act' ('Kindeswohl'), from the German translation by Christiane von Poelnitz. Also on the programme Michael's song 'In love with the Nurse' (one of Three Cabaret Songs) and works by Bach, Britten, Mahler and Berlioz. Wiener Konzerthaus, Lothringerstrasse 20, Vienna, A-1030, Austria, Wednesday 9 December 2015.
St. Andrew's story told in new anthem
Wells Cathedral showcased new music from Sunday 11 to Thursday 15 October 2015. As the featured composer, Michael has written a new anthem which was premiered at Evensong in the Cathedral on Thursday 15th October. St Andrew is the patron saint of Wells Cathedral and The Tale of Andrew tells his story to words by Bishop Ken.
The anthem was performed again on 1 December 2015.
Re-Inventions performed by Britten Sinfonia on BBC Radio 3
The Britten Sinfonia performs works by Michael Berkeley, Nielsen and Patrick John Jones as part of their award-winning 'At Lunch' series in Cambridge. Michael Berkeley's Re-Inventions are based on the two and three-part inventions of J S Bach, whilst Uncanny Vale by York-based composer Patrick John Jones has pastoral influences. You can listen to the programme on BBC Radio Player until mid-November.
The King's College London Centre for Modern Literature & Culture has commissioned Michael and two other composers to set to music words by contemporary poets, to be performed by the renowned Greek mezzo-soprano Angelica Cathariou.
On Sunday October 11, Little Venice Music Festival welcomed violinist Madeleine Mitchell and pianist Viv McLean, performing music by Beethoven and Franck along with Veilleuse (Night Watch), a haunting work by Michael Berkeley, who is Patron of the festival. Also on the programme was a virtuosic work by Bridge from Madeleine's popular album 'Violin Songs', which she played to great acclaim earlier this year at Wigmore Hall. St Saviour's is a warm, comfortable venue, easily accessible.
Organist Tom Winpenny opened a short organ recital with Wild Bells at St Paul's Cathedral on 13th September at 4.45pm. Also on the programme was Saint-Saëns Prelude & Fugue in G and Willan's Introduction Passacaglia & Fugue.
Friday 31 July at 8pm, The Saloon, Duncombe Park, Helmsley, North Yorks, YO62 5EB
An evening of music and conversation with Michael Berkeley. He talked about his life in music and introduced performances of some of his own ‘private passions’, including one of Fauré’s most magnificent works. The concert also included the world premiere of At a Solemn Wake – a new piece for cello and piano commissioned for the Ryedale Festival.
The programme included works by Mozart, Lennox Berkeley, Bridge, Britten, Poulenc, Fauré and Michael Berkeley:
The Aeðelfrìth brass ensemble performed a programme with a medieval flavour on 24 July at 11am at the Joan of Arc Hall, Botton Village, Whitby, Yorkshire. After the sparkling Champagne Fanfare by Michael Berkeley, they played a new piece reminiscing Yorkshire under Viking rule – a ‘call to arms’ featuring a pair of Danish Lurs. The programme also included Music from Chaucer, a piece inspired by Tallis and a new work by Simon Dobson to celebrate the special atmosphere of Botton’s Joan of Arc Hall and Holst’s famous evocation of the northern moorland landscapes of England.
Aeðelfrìth is a brass ensemble-based arts project, named after an ancient King of Northumbria and exploring connections between Anglian, Celtic and Nordic cultures.
To accompany an exhibition of the work of John Craxton at Dorchester County Museum the Nash Ensemble performed Michael's Oboe Quintet 'Into the Ravine' on June 19th 2015. This work was written in memory of Craxton who was a close friend of the composer. Craxton's sister, Janet, the eminent oboist performed many works by both Michael and Lennox Berkeley.
Audience member Christopher Daly commented, "Oboe Quintet 'Into the Ravine' had a particular presence in the elegant surroundings of the museum, and its sonorities and textures clear. The Nash were of course excellent, and the music really well received by a discerning and appreciative audience. It had helped my enjoyment to have viewed the John Craxton paintings beforehand. Liz Waller chose the programme well; fine works well contrasted."
Three Cabaret Songs receive UK and US premieres
On 20 May at 8pm, Angela Hewitt and baritone Russell Braun gave the American Premiere of Three Cabaret Songs (words by Ian McEwan) at the 92Y in New York in a programme celebrating Ian's love of music in his work and life.
Ten years have passed since Angela founded the Trasimeno Festival, a jewel in the cultural crown of Magione, Italy.
Laetentur coeli in King's evensong
Laetentur coeli, No. 5 of Eight Motets, was performed by the Choir of King's College Cambridge at the 5.30pm Evensong in King's College Chapel, Cambridge on 19 May 2015.
London Festival of Contemporary Church Music
Ego dilecto meo from Three Motets was performed by the internationally-renowned vocal ensemble the Marian Consort in a programme of British sacred music influenced by the music of the Renaissance, at the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music in St Pancras Church, London, on 16 May 2015. From the austere beauty of Lennox Berkeley’s Mass for Five Voices to Gabriel Jackson’s alternatim Magnificat setting for Truro Cathedral, the programme was conceived as part of the liturgy of today, while capturing the essence of the past.
Berkeley works in David Malouf honorary concert
On Friday 30th April at the Michael Tippett Centre at Bath Spa University the Australian novelist, David Malouf, was given an Honorary Doctor of letters and to celebrate the occasion there was a concert featuring settings of Malouf by Michael including a scene from a possible opera based on The Winter's Tale (now the final song in the cycle, Winter Fragments) and Two poems for Mezzo and Cello. Malouf and Berkeley collaborated on two operas, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Jane Eyre. The University Choir also sang Michael's ever popular anthem, Listen, Listen, O My Child, written for the Enthronement of the current Archbishop of Canterbury.
Berkeley Ensemble performs Berkeley, Beethoven and Schubert
On 12 March at 6.30pm in the Lindsey Suite, University of Hull, the Berkeley Ensemble presented two of the most famous chamber works of the First Viennese School together in one concert. Michael Berkeley follows Beethoven’s instrumental plan in Clarion Call and Gallop, written for the Ensemble in 2013. Schubert's ever-popular Trout Quintet and Beethoven's Septet both broke new ground in their unusual scoring.
St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, Friday 28 November at 1pm
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, Tuesday 02 December at 1pm
Wigmore Hall, London, Wednesday 03 December at 1pm
Also on the programme were works by Crawford Seeger, Patrick John Jones and Nielson.
New Paddington film warmly received at premiere
The new family film Paddington received its premiere at the Leicester Square Odeon on 23 November. The famous series of books upon which the film is based were written by Michael's brother-in-law, Michael Bond. Despite feeling some trepidation at the prospect of a big-screen adaptation, and the fear that Paddington might be let down, he is delighted with the result, giving the film "full marks". It has been acclaimed by critics too – the Telegraph proclaims it "a total delight", whilst the Guardian says "as warm as an eiderdown and as fluffy as its feathers". Paddington opens across the UK on Friday 28 November.
Michael talks about Private Passions at Hampstead Arts Festival
Michael presents one of BBC Radio 3's most successful programmes, Private Passions (Sunday at 12 noon), in which guests discuss their musical loves and hates, and talk about the influence music has had on their lives. In conversation with Piers Plowright, Michael talked about his own private passions at Burgh House, New End Square, London NW3 1LT at 7.30 on Monday 17th November.
Sing a Song of Praise performed again at King's
Sing a Song of Praise (Build This House) was again performed at Choral Evensong on Sunday, November 16th by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, directed by Stephen Cleobury. You can hear the performance here - click on 'Evensong: Sunday 16 November 2014', then on 'Introit - Build This House'.
In a lecture on Thursday 30 October at King's College Chapel, University of Aberdeen Music Department, Michael talked about the role and power of music in society. This followed a concert in which Paul Mealor conducted Listen, Listen, O My Child and students performed a variety of pieces by Michael and his father, Lennox.
St. Paul's Sinfonia perform Fantasia Concertante
Greenwich-based St. Paul's Sinfonia performed Michael's Fantasia Concertante as part of their concert on Friday 17 October 2014, at St Stephen's Church, Granville Grove, Lewisham SE13 5AF. Also on the programme was Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2 (with Timothy Jackson, French horn), Piazzolla's Oblivion and Haydn's Symphony No. 104 'London'.
Joyful Company of Singers perform works by Lennox and Michael Berkeley
This concert was given by the Joyful Company of Singers to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Lennox Berkeley. On the programme was Listen, Listen, O My Child and Three Motets by Michael Berkeley, Mass for Five Voices and Three Motets by William Byrd and Three Latin Motets, Mass for Five Voices and Sonatina by Lennox Berkeley. Tickets £15 (£12 concessions).
The concert was preceded by an interview with Michael and his brother Julian, who were choristers at Westminster Cathedral when Lennox wrote his Mass for Five Voices for the choir. Tony Scotland, author of the biography Lennox and Freda, talked to them about their father's sacred music and the faith that inspired it.
Saturday 18 October, Church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, Holborn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2DQ
BBC Singers' 90th Birthday Concert
On Monday 22 September on BBC Radio 3, Verity Sharp introduced the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in recent performances and recordings, and celebrated the BBC Singers' 90th birthday. Michael was Composer in Association with BBC NOW in the early 2000s. The orchestra performed Michael's Gregorian Variations along with a rare chance to hear Lennox Berkeley's unaccompanied choral work The Hill of the Graces, commissioned by the BBC Singers in 1975. Also featured was Merseyside Echoes by the British composer Peter Dickinson, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year.
In Dances, Fierce Tears and Conversations, Ilid Jones (oboe) and Richard Uttley (piano) performed Fierce Tears I and Fierce Tears II on Saturday 23 August at 2pm at St Andrew's Church,
Presteigne, LD8 2AF, Wales.
In Joyful Company A Cappella, The Joyful Company of Singers conducted by Peter Broadbent performed Listen, Listen, O My Child on Saturday 23 August at 4.30pm at St. Mary's Parish Church,
Pembridge, HR6 9EA, Wales.
In To a Poet, Christopher Foster (baritone) and Chris Hopkins (piano) perform Hollow Fires on Monday 25 August at 11:30am at Assembly Rooms,
Presteigne, LD8 2AD, Wales.
Enniskillen Beckett Festival
Michael recently took part in the acclaimed Enniskillen Beckett Festival 2014, Happy Days, where he was in conversation with Alfred Brendel.
Fierce Tears I 'On This Island'
James Turnbull (Oboe) and Elizabeth Burgess (Piano) performed Fierce Tears I on Saturday 23 August at 1pm at The Tabernacle,
Heol Penrallt, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 8AJ, Wales. 'On This Island' was one of a series of concerts in the 2014 Machynlleth Festival, a week of inspiring music making, lunchtime, evening and late night concerts, talks, interviews and masterclasses.
Cycle of Songs celebrates Tour de France Cambridge visit
Cycle of Songs showcases and celebrates the talent and diversity of Cambridge and includes many local people of all ages sharing their voice and celebrating the city in song.
Nine pieces were commissioned from a wide range of composers and poets. They were inspired by historical research and based on words from original sources of fascinating and quirky stories at iconic locations along the Tour's route in Cambridge.
Michael writes, "My composition for Cycle of Songs is called Build This House and was performed by King's College Choristers. I've scored the work to be accompanied by primary school voices. I always enjoy finding new ways to make music and particularly with young singers. I have created a piece that will work in various contexts and with various forces. I love working at King's - great architecture and wonderful musicians. With the Anthem Listen, Listen, O My Child, which was commissioned for the Enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I concentrated on paring things down and this new Anthem Build This House is modelled on a similar kind of skeleton."
Oboe Quintet 'Into the Ravine' at Grassington Festival
World famous oboist Nicholas Daniel and the Carducci String Quartet team up for an evening of high-class music making. Features Oboe Quintet 'Into the Ravine' by Michael Berkeley (recently recorded to rave reviews), Piazzolla's 4 for Tango and Haydn's famous Joke quartet. 17 June 2014 at 8pm, Town Hall, 1 Moor Lane, Grassington, BD23 5AA.
As part of the Night and Day recital, Veilleuse (Night Watch) was performed by violinist Madeleine Mitchell at the
Bangor New Music Festival on March 12th, 2014 in the Main Arts Building,
Bangor, LL57 2DG, Gwynedd, Wales.
Berkeley Ensemble performs Clarion Call at album launch concert
Michael's version uses a Mozart-sized orchestra and the piano has a prominent concertante/concerto role. On Monday 3 February, Michael and Wayne spoke about their work at an event in the Clore Studio at the Royal Opera House.
On Sunday 24 November, BBC Radio 3's Private Passions featured Britten's music and was accompanied by a two-page interview in the Radio Times.
Michael joins Rayfield Allied
22 September 2013
Michael is pleased to announce that he has joined the Rayfield Allied agency. Established in 1971, Rayfield Allied is a highly respected independent agency for classical musicians, including conductors, singers, instrumentalists and composers. Its roster includes many distinguished artists, including the composers Harrison Birtwistle, Steve Reich and David Sawer.
New fanfare heralds Danish statue
Michael was commissioned by the town of Holstebro in Denmark to create a fanfare to accompany the the daily rising from the ground of their wonderful Giacometti statue. It descends every night for security reasons. This brought to mind the statue coming to life in Don Giovanni so the Champagne Fanfare is inspired by the opening phrase of the Champagne Aria from the opera.
Champagne Fanfare has been recorded for Holsteboro by Onyx Brass and Michael has also re-arranged it for the National Wind Youth Orchestra's summer tour to Switzerland.
Michael joins House of Lords
Michael was introduced to the House of Lords on March the 26th as Lord Berkeley of Knighton, CBE.
He will sit on the cross benches as a non-party political peer. Michael is a passionate advocate for the arts, contemporary music and music education. Commenting on the news, he said he is "very honoured" to be appointed. "I am particularly pleased that the Appointments Commission was keen to increase representation in the field of music and the arts," he continued.
The appointment, which has to be approved by the Queen, is made by the Prime Minister on the recommendation of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The entrepreneur and 'digital champion' Martha Lane Fox, who at 40 has become the youngest female peer, joined the House at the same time as Michael.