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Chamber orchestra works

Fantasia Concertante

Duration: 21 minutes
Published by Oxford University Press

This work was commissioned as a result of the 1977 Guinness Prize for Composition. It was first performed on March 5th 1978 at the Wembley Conference Centre by the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mark Elder.

Severn Crossing

Duration: 7 minutes
Published by Oxford University Press

Looking out across the Severn Estuary, I have often been struck by the beautiful but lonely seascape that stretches out to the Bristol Channel. It very much suggested the wistful melody on the flute which opens Severn Crossing and on which the whole piece is based.
Gradually the sounds of construction are heard; just the odd knock at first but then the busy rhythmic pumping and beating of powerful machines. As the crossing nears completion, so the cross rhythms become more pronounced and a familiar Welsh melody is glimpsed amidst the swirling textures.

A defiant reminder of the opening line brings us to the conclusion as the final sections of the span are hammered into place.

© Michael Berkeley

Suite: Vision of Piers Ploughman

Duration: 12 minutes
Published by Oxford University Press

Tetractys - The Art of Fugue

Year of composition: 2014

Following his creative partnership with artist Audrey Niffenegger in Raven Girl, Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor explores the connections between the arts. He teamed up with artist Tauba Auerbach and choreographs to J.S. Bach’s phenomenal The Art of Fugue, a score arranged by Michael Berkeley. The first performances of this work, which brings together an 18th-century work of magnificent invention with pioneering 21st-century choreography, took place between 7 and 15 February 2014 at the Royal Opera House as part of a mixed programme which also included the works Rhapsody and Gloria.

Michael's version uses a Mozart-sized orchestra with the piano having a prominent concertante/concerto role. On Monday 3 February 2014, Michael and Wayne spoke about their work at an event in the Clore Studio at the Royal Opera House.

The Romance of the Rose

Duration: 12 minutes
Published by Oxford University Press

Unlike his more recent works, which display a tauter, harder-edged sound, Berkeley's earliest works were composed in a broadly tonal idiom, and The Romance of the Rose is no exception. Taking the form of a theme and variations, it was written for a BBC dramatisation of the early French poem, Romaut de la Rose, and is a re-enactment in musical terms of the gestures and rituals of courtly love.

The first public performance was given on 5th November 1982 by the Orchestra of St. Paul's School, in St. John's, Smith Square, London.

Uprising

Duration: 21 minutes
Published by Oxford University Press

First performed 18 December 1980, Queen's Hall Edinburgh by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Roderick Brydon.

© Michael Berkeley