2016 Frontiers Festival launched

Birmingham’s two-week festival of creative, experimental and boundary-pushing new music.

Gavin Bryars, Errollyn Wallen, Project Instrumental, Decibel, Anna Palmer, Hans Koller with BCMG, and works by some of the emerging talent from Birmingham Conservatoire’s composition students: these are just some of the experimental, creative and boundary-pushing artists headlining Birmingham’s Frontiers festival of new music (4th-18th March).

The two-week Festival, presented by Birmingham Conservatoire, brings together some of contemporary music’s most forward-thinking artists and exciting new projects in venues across the city. In the gothic splendour of St Martin’s in the Bullring, guest artist Gavin Bryars stages a two-hour performance of some of his rarer works including Three Elegies for Nine Clarinets and A Family Likeness for recorder consort, with consecutive pieces taking place in different parts of the building.

Then, in a late session at Birmingham Conservatoire, Gavin joins three heavyweights of the jazz/improv scene for a ‘free improv meets minimal’ session with Percy Pursglove, Hans Koller and Andrew Bain. Multi-talented composer, vocalist and songwriter Anna Palmer is tipped as a future star to follow fellow Conservatoire graduate Laura Mvula. Her many musical guises have earned her critical praise and recent exposure on BBC 6Music’s Freak Zone with her ensemble Dorcha.

Anna’s latest creative project takes the much-loved but neglected Moseley Road Swimming Baths as her subject: Treading Water is an inter-disciplinary collaboration in music, movement and visual art celebrating the building’s gothic wonder.

Pianist and composer Hans Koller draws together the worlds of contemporary classical and jazz for the premiere of his new Jazzlines commission, Twelve Re-inventions for George Russell, written for an ensemble combining his stunning jazz quartet with six virtuosic players from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. The new work blends Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Theory with a Webernesque twelve-tone approach. Ivor Novello Award-winning composer Errollyn Wallen and Ensemble X perform her critically acclaimed works plus pieces by special guests.

The exclusive programme will also include works by Joe Cutler and Jeremy Peyton Jones in advance of the release of a new album of her orchestral works, Photography, in March. Piano duo Fumiko Miyachi and Kate Halsall made their debut at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2014 and have since been recording specially commissioned works. Their programme includes My First Homage by Gavin Bryars, pieces from their latest album and the world premiere of Fumiko’s latest work from her Transitional Metal Series Cobalt.

Other highlights include gigs by Decibel and Project Instrumental, a solo drum concert from guest artist in residence Jeff Ballard, a collaborative Sufi-inspired project from Tord Gustavsen, and jazz master Stan Sulzmann with the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra.

There are new works for classical guitar with electronics and film by Shannon Latoyah-Simon, and James Alexandropoulos-McEwan’s Between Places which brings together classical and jazz musicians in a work combining composition, improvisation and chance elements.

Four brass choirs will give the Adrian Boult Hall a worthy send-off prior to its demolition this summer using the hall’s resonant frequencies, Christine Cornwell breathes new life into works not performed since their premieres, and Emily Wright – whose Beethoven’s 5th was a viral hit last year – unveils a new installation.

Artistic Director Rosie Clements, herself a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire, says, “Frontiers is all about the new and the inventive, about mixing up some of the great creative forces in current contemporary music with fascinating and stimulating emerging talent drawn from Birmingham Conservatoire’s classical, jazz and composition students. The Teaser Day on Sunday 6th is a great introduction to the festival and there are many other events across the two weeks to challenge and excite.”

Frontiers Festival takes place across Birmingham from 4-18 March 2016. For dates, further information and details of how to book, visit www.frontiersmusic.org