New Music Biennial

biennial logos

PRS for Music Foundation has today (26 April, 2013) announced Gael Music as one of the twenty composers and commissioning organisations who will participate in the first ever UK-wide New Music Biennial.

Beginning in January 2014, the first edition of the New Music Biennial has been developed in partnership with Creative Scotland, Arts Council England and the British Council.  The 20 brand new commissions selected from over 130 proposals will receive premiere performances in 2014 across the length and breadth of the UK.  All twenty pieces will also be featured at two weekend showcases hosted by London’s Southbank Centre (4-6 July 2014) and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music (2-3 Aug 2014) and on BBC Radio 3. NMC Recordings will be releasing each piece of new music via digital downloads..


The works selected for the New Music Biennial cover a wide range of genres, reflecting the diversity and richness of musical life across the UK - from contemporary classical, folk and jazz to world music, urban and electronic.  Commissions include composer Matthew Herbert whose new piece will use the sounds of 20 pianos from across the world, Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of the Noisettes collaborating with David Okumu, two projects for brass band (a collaboration between Andy Scott and poet/playwright Lemn Sissay and a commission for composer David Sawer with Onyx Brass) and a folk commission led by composer and broadcaster Mary Ann Kennedy which will consist of songs created on ferry crossings in the Scottish Highlands, to be performed in Inverness and on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.  Other commissions include accomplished jazz musician Gwilym Simcock working with City of London Sinfonia and clarinettist Michael Collins and a project led by Tête à Tête Opera in which young composer, Samuel Bordoli will bring together opera and skateboarding in London and Scotland.


The New Music Biennial commissions were chosen by an expert judging panel including one of the UK’s most eminent musicians Dame Evelyn Glennie, singer/songwriter and broadcaster Cerys Matthews, award-winning composer Max Richter and multi-talented composer/saxophonist Jason Yarde, the Southbank Centre’s Head of Classical Music, Gillian Moore and Director of Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, Svend Brown.  The panel was chaired by Roger Wright (Controller BBC Radio 3 & Director BBC Proms).


Vanessa Reed, Executive Director of PRS for Music Foundation, said:

“As lead funder of new music in the UK, we’re constantly inspired by the imagination and quality of the many composers and commissioning organisations we support. The New Music Biennial gives us the opportunity to celebrate this creativity by presenting outstanding new music – in any genre – which has the potential to inspire audiences across the UK.


We’re proud to be working with Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and British Council to realise this ambitious new programme and with Southbank Centre and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music who’ll give us the chance to hear all 20 commissions across two weekends next summer.”


Roger Wright, Controller BBC Radio 3, Director BBC Proms and Chair of the New Music Biennial judging panel, comments:  “It is always a pleasure to celebrate the diversity and quality of the UK’s contemporary compositional scene. The 20 projects selected by the distinguished panel are wide-ranging and exciting. They promise to offer a stimulating experience, either live or in the radio broadcasts. There were many strong applications for this first New Music Biennial and our task, choosing 20 commissions, was not an easy one."


Max Richter, comments: “I was amazed by the high quality and range of the submissions.”


Cerys Matthews, comments: “Can’t wait to hear the new ferryboat songs from the Scottish highlands and a choir singing on a skateboard ramp”.


Dame Evelyn Glennie, comments: “There is no shortage of talent, imagination and creativity in the UK and the excellent applications to the New Music Biennial have proved this.”


The New Music Biennial opened earlier this year, when organisations from all over the country submitted ideas for commissions they would like to realise with a UK based composer, working in any genre.  They were invited to present commissioning ideas that would result in outstanding new music and include an international dimension that could  tie in with Glasgow’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games – whether a conceptual realisation or collaboration with partners overseas.


The full list of 20 commissions is below.


Niraj Chag commissioned by Arts Depot

Composer Niraj Chag will create a new multi art-form piece that will explore his cultural heritage by taking front pages of newspapers from East Africa, India and the UK, pinpointing a date in history. This commission will incorporate live music, image and dance.


Lau commissioned by Celtic Connections Festival

Experimental folk trio Lau will write 15 minutes of new music for themselves and Elysian Quartet. The group have forged new tracks for their native Scottish music and they will extend this exploration further with the Elysian, perhaps the most respected contemporary string quartet in England today.


Gwilym Simcock commissioned by City of London Sinfonia

This commission fuses the worlds of classical music and jazz, and celebrates the virtuosity of City of London Sinfonia Principal Conductor and Clarinettist Michael Collins with a distinctive new work for Clarinet, Strings, Jazz Trio and Speaker. The project brings together some of the UK's most exceptional musical talents.


Yann Seznec commissioned by Edinburgh Art Festival

Artist and musician Yann Seznec will create a new installation and performance for Edinburgh Art Festival’s common-wealth, a major international exhibition of contemporary art selected from five continents to coincide with the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The work will explore the relevance of ‘commons’: those things we value and hold in common.


Andy Scott & Lemn Sissay commissioned by Foden's Brass Band

'A Child Like You' looks at the world through the eyes of a child in care. Poet Lemn Sissay is one of these children. Award-winning composer Andy Scott will write for Foden's Brass Band, singer Anna-Clare Monk and harpist Lauren Scott. He will collaborate with Sissay, who will narrate this powerful, thought-provoking and uplifting work.


Matheu Watson & Luke Daniels commissioned by Gael Music

This commission will feature an outstanding international quartet representing four countries from the Commonwealth; Scotland, England, Canada and Australia. The project explores the many drove roads or tracks set deeply into the Scottish countryside and the long-vanished trade of Scottish cattle-droving through its hardy highland cattle drovers and their wider connections to the New World.


Arlene Sierra commissioned by INTER/actions Bangor New Music Festival

Arlene Sierra’s 'Urban Birds' brings together three international soloists in a tour de force for three pianos with electronics, sampled birdsong, and percussion. The new work will combine spectacle with refined classical keyboard artistry, juxtaposing harmony, rhythmic drive, and sounds from nature.


Akwasi Mensah commissioned by Jazz re:freshed           

Filmmaker Bunny Bread weaves a tale of guilt and innocence from three distinct perspectives. The accompanying live score guides each unique telling of the story as composer Akwasi Mensah explores how dynamics in music can be used to manipulate the emotions of an audience.


Luke Styles commissioned by Juice Vocal Ensemble

This theatrical new work by Luke Styles will feature experimental vocal trio Juice and Trish Clowes' jazz/classical ensemble Tangent, performing alongside three live dancers.  Blurring the boundaries between dancer and musician, this evocative piece will retell a Native Canadian folk tale in a playful, highly dynamic way.


Jez Colborne commissioned by Mind the Gap

A gift arrives. What's inside? Curious? Then follow talented learning-disabled composer Jez Colborne on a musical odyssey to discover what it means to be gifted.


Piers Hellawell commissioned by Moving On Music

Avant-garde composer Piers Hellawell and improvising virtuoso Bourne Davis Kane collide in a shared space; the goal is music created by all of them. Both parties leave behind established writing methods to learn from one another, undermining assumptions about both improvising and the notation of music.


Gabriel Jackson commissioned by Mr McFall's Chamber

Mr McFall’s Chamber is celebrating historic links by commissioning Bermuda-born composer Gabriel Jackson to set poems about island life by both Scottish and Caribbean poets to music.


David Sawer commissioned by Onyx Brass

Celebrating the group's 21st birthday, the acclaimed Onyx Brass presents an exciting commission for brass quintet by composer David Sawer in over twenty informal and free outdoor performances across Britain's historic bandstands, outdoor festivals, and public spaces. The project will bring contemporary music out of the concert hall and on to the village green.


Shingai Shoniwa commissioned by Serious

The Noisettes’ Shingai Shoniwa and acclaimed singer-songwriter/producer David Okumu are coming together to create a new vocal work inspired by the values of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It will be performed by different vocal forces, including community choirs.


Stephen Montague commissioned by sound festival

sound, Red Note Ensemble and Woodend Barn are commissioning Stephen Montague to write a new children’s work for 6 musicians and narrator. It will be based on tales sent in by children from different countries across the Commonwealth and rewritten by award-winning playwright Zinnie Harris.


Samuel Bordoli commissioned by Tête a Tête

Blending skateboarding, choral singing and the unique acoustic of skate parks, Tête à Tête and composer Samuel Bordoli team up with skaters and community choirs to make a real noise in London, Aberdeen and Glasgow.


Dobrinka Tabakova commissioned by The Royal Philharmonic Society

The Royal Philharmonic Society brings Dobrinka Tabakova’s youthful classical music out of the concert hall and in to Ruth Paxton’s bold film-making. ‘My Pulse, My Place’ is a film about the energy and diversity of life in a modern city, unearthing the driving forces behind the mix of international societies and cultures.


Alistair Anderson commissioned by The Sage Gateshead           

A unique musical collaboration between one of the UK’s most talented Steel Pan musicians, the world’s most respected English concertina player, a DJ, clog dancer and youth steel bands from the UK and the West Indies. The project will create high impact performances which will excite audiences in both the UK and Trinidad.


Matthew Herbert commissioned by Third Ear Music

Matthew Herbert will be telling the stories of twenty unique pianos from around the world; from Steinways at famous locations, to forgotten out-of-tune family pianos. The composer will sample each piano, document it in photographs and record short oral histories. The composition, for solo pianist, will be played on a simple table, turned into a virtual piano through bespoke soft/hardware created by the Radiophonic Workshop.


Mary Ann Kennedy commissioned by Watercolour Music

‘Aiseag’ (The Ferryboat):.A lifelong fascination creates a journey between the Highlands and Canada’s Gaelic diaspora. Mary Ann Kennedy and Scott Macmillan will work with audio designer Nick Turner and poet Aonghas MacNeacail to create a new work combining electronica, found sound and musicians from both Cape Breton and Scotland.



The New Music Biennial builds on the success of New Music 20x12, a music commissioning programmethat saw more than 250,000 people experience new music from leading figures in the fields of contemporary classical, jazz and folk music. Composers including Mark-Anthony Turnage, Sally Beamish, Jason Yarde, Emily Howard, Julian Joseph, Sheema Mukherjee, Howard Skempton, Anna Meredith and Graham Fitkin were commissioned for this exciting programme and were brought together with a wide array of organisations and performers in a weekend celebration at London’s Southbank Centre, a highlight of the Cultural Olympiad.


Rambert Dance Company, actress Juliet Stephenson, the OAE, Music in Prisons and performance poet Ian McMillan are just a few of the many artists who were involved in New Music 20x12. The New Music 20x12 works were made available to people through a variety of ways - over 120 concerts, downloads from NMC Recordings (, BBC Radio 3 broadcasts and films on The Space (, the new digital arts service developed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC. 


New Music Biennial is a PRS for Music Foundation initiative, in partnership with Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the British Council. It is presented in collaboration with BBC Radio 3, NMC Recordings, Southbank Centre and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music.


Additional support has been given by John S. Cohen Foundation, Jillian Barker and David Cohen, who initiated New Music 20x12, Arts Council Northern of Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, The Bliss Trust and The Finzi Trust.


More information about the New Music Biennial open call can be found on our website -


For more information about New Music Biennial

Talia Hull

07834 431 007




Notes to editors


About the judges


Svend Brown

Svend Brown is one of Scotland's leading festival and music directors. He acts as Director of Music (Glasgow Life) and Director of Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, and is Director of the East Neuk Festival. In all of these posts he has created new international programmes of work combining the finest of Scottish talent with international partners and co commissioners.  Previously he held senior posts at the BBC (Senior Music Producer) and Van Walsum Management (Director of International Projects). In 2008 he produced the successful bid by the City of Glasgow to become a UNESCO Creative City. Two things link all of Brown’s activities. One is a simple passion for live music of many kinds and a wish to present as wide a diversity of music as possible. The second is a belief in the power of music to change lives through educational and social impacts. In 2006 he curated an international conference (Music and the New Musicians) to explore ways in which musicians can work differently to share their gift in many different ways besides performance. Now, in all his roles he sustains a strong focus on this wider dimension to music. Projects this month include producing Steve Reich in Glasgow (the revered American composer came to Glasgow to oversee performances of his music and work with young musicians from the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and Royal Conservatoire), Bill Fontana's video and sound installation 'Silent Echoes" and UNESCO Music Days, bringing musicians from all of the UNESCO Music Cities together for a weekend of music making and networking in Glasgow.


Dame Evelyn Glennie

Awarded Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2007 Evelyn Glennie is the first person in musical history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. Since graduating with an Honours degree from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1985 at the age of 19, Evelyn gives more than 100 performances a year worldwide, performing with the greatest conductors, orchestras, and artists. Her diversity of collaborations include visual mixing of live music with the likes of DJ Yoda and the ‘Beat Boxer’ Shlomo.  Collaborations include Nana Vasconcelos, Kodo, Bela Fleck, Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, Sting, Emmanuel Ax, Kings Singers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Fred Frith and the Taipei Traditional Chinese Orchestra. In July 2012 Evelyn was honoured to take a lead role in the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. In collaboration with Underworld Evelyn led 1000 drummers for the world premiere of 'And I will Kiss' and also premiered Caliban's Dream' on a newly developed instrument called the ‘Glennie Aluphone’ accompanying the lighting of the flame.  Evelyn is the leading commissioner of around 170 new works for solo percussion from many of the world's most eminent composers. As a double Grammy award winner and BAFTA nominee Evelyn is in demand as a composer in her own right and records high quality music for film, television and music library companies.


Solo recordings now exceed 28 CD’s including the Grammy award winning Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion by Bartok and her collaboration with Bela Fleck.

With over 86 international awards to date Evelyn continues to feed the next generation through advice and guidance.


Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, author and broadcaster. She hosts a Sunday morning music show on BBC 6 Music and makes documentaries for television as well as BBC Radio 2 and 4. Cerys has, since childhood, collected, sung and played traditional songs from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England, and has gone on to share them with audiences worldwide. She remains an avid collector of songs from all over the globe.  Cerys is a columnist for the number one World music magazine 'Songlines', writes reviews and articles for the likes of The Guardian, The Times and Grazia, and is author of children's stories 'Tales From The Deep'. The follow up, 'Gelert, A Man's Best Friend', is due out in 2013.  2013 will also see the release on Penguin of 'Hook, Line and Singer' Cerys' collection of singalong classics including personal anecdotes and song histories. Song examples are 'Let's Go Fly A Kite', 'Oh Susannah,' and the 'Tra, La, La Song'.  She has written and presented documentaries on subjects as diverse as Cuba, the Mississippi river, Mahalia Jackson, Memphis Minnie, Hidegard Von Bingen, Blue Horizon (the iconic British blues label), Sacred Harp singing, the Greatest Try (rugby), WB Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes , shark and salmon fishing (Cerys even had a gardening column in Time Out during the 90's!).  She was lead singer and songwriter for multi-million selling band Catatonia, and duets with Sir Tom Jones on perennial winter favourite 'Baby, Its Cold Outside'.  Cerys is Vice-President for Shelter Wales, is the Arts Ambassador for Linden Lodge – a Specialist Sensory and Physical College, and was a judge for the Dylan Thomas literary Prize, 2010 and 2012.


Gillian Moore

Gillian Moore is Head of Classical Music at Southbank Centre, before which she was the Artistic Director of the London Sinfonietta. She is a Fellow and council member of the RCM, a council member of the RPS, an Honorary Associate of the RAM, and an Honorary Member of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was awarded the Sir Charles Groves Award in 1991 for services to British music; an MBE in 1994 for services to music and education, and an Association of British Orchestras Award, and an honorary doctorate from Brunel University.  During her career, Gillian has collaborated with many of the great musical and artistic figures of our age, from Luciano Berio to Radiohead, from Harrison Birtwistle to Sir Simon Rattle, from Steve Reich to Akram Khan. She has commissioned many significant new works as well as creating opportunities for artists to reach the widest possible audiences with their work.  Gillian was a pioneer in orchestral education programmes in the1980s, and remains a passionate advocate for arts education. She writes and broadcasts regularly about music.


Max Richter

The work of the award-winning British composer Max Richter includes concert music, film scoring, and a series of acclaimed solo albums. Working with a variety of collaborators including Tilda Swinton, Robert Wyatt, Future Sound of London, and Roni Size, Max's work explores the meeting points of many contemporary artistic languages, and, as might be expected from a student of Luciano Berio, Max’s work embraces a wide range of influences.  Recent projects include the ballet INFRA, for Wayne McGregor at The Royal Ballet, with scenography by Julian Opie, the award-winning score to Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir, and the music installationThe Anthropocene, with Darren Almond at White Cube.  Max's music has formed the basis of numerous dance works, including pieces by Lucinda Childs, NDT, Ballet du Rhin, American Ballet Theatre, Dresden Semper Oper, The Dutch National Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, among many others, while film makers using work by Max include Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island). Recent commissions include the opera SUM, based on David Eagleman’s acclaimed book, premiered at The Royal Opera House, London and Mercy, commissioned by Hilary Hahn.  Current projects include Vivaldi Recomposed for Deutsche Grammophon, recorded by British violinist Daniel Hope and the Konzerthaus Orchester, Berlin, as well as a variety of other recording and film projects.


Roger Wright – Chair of the judging panel

Roger Wright took up the post of Controller, BBC Radio 3 in November 1998 and, in October 2007, also became Director of the BBC Proms. He also co-ordinates the BBC's classical music output across all BBC platforms. As Controller of BBC Radio 3, Roger is in charge of its editorial strategy, commissioning, and scheduling policies. He is also responsible for four of the BBC's performing groups: the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers.


Under Roger's leadership, BBC Radio 3 has increased its commitment to live music both throughout the UK and internationally in addition to strengthening its support and encouragement of young artists. The station continues to be the world's largest commissioner of new music, broadcasting works by a wide range of composers. Roger has also been the driving force behind composer-focused seasons such as The Beethoven Experience, A Bach Christmas, Webern Day, The Stravinsky/Tchaikovsky Experience and The Genius Of Mozart, in addition to The Ring in a Day, when the BBC Radio 3 schedule was cleared to broadcast Wagner's entire 18-hour Ring cycle. In 2009, Radio 3 won the Sony Award for UK Station of the Year.


Jason Yarde

Composer, arranger, producer, musical director and saxophonist Jason Yarde writes music that has been described as powerful, spiritual, evocative, rhapsodic, hair-raising and formidable. He composes across various styles (progressive jazz, classical, hip-hop, fusion, free improvisation, broken beats, R&B, reggae, soul, song writing) and for a variety of media (orchestras, chamber ensembles, big band, dance, film, electro-acoustic and midi) and his potential and originality is such that he was nominated for the Bird Award at the 2004 North Sea Jazz Festival and for the Jazz on 3 Innovation Award for the 2005 and 2006 BBC Jazz Awards.

About PRS for Music Foundation

PRS for Music Foundation is the UK's leading funder of new music across all genres.  Since 2000 PRS for Music Foundation has given more than £14 million to over 4,250 new music initiatives by awarding grants and leading partnership programmes that support music sector development. Widely respected as an adventurous and proactive funding body, PRS for Music Foundation supports an exceptional range of new music activity – from composer residencies and commissions to festivals and showcases in the UK and overseas.

About Creative Scotland
Creative Scotlandis the national development agency for the arts, screen and creative industries.  Our vision is that Scotland will be recognised as one of the world’s most creative nations – one that attracts, develops and retains talent, where the arts and the creative industries are supported and celebrated and their economic contribution fully captured; a nation where the arts and creativity play a central part in the lives, education and well-being of our population.   


About Arts Council England

The Arts Council champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2011 and 2015, we will invest £1.4 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


About British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of £739 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%.  We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and


About BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 is the home of classical music. The station also broadcasts a wide range of cultural programming including jazz, world music, arts and over 30 new drama programmes a year. BBC Radio 3 features more live classical music programming than any other station and is the home of the BBC Proms, broadcasting every Prom live and over 600 complete concerts a year. The station is also the most significant commissioner of new musical works in the world and is committed to supporting new talent, composers, writers and new young performers through schemes such as World Routes Academy, New Generation Artists and New Generation Thinkers.


About NMC Recordings
NMC believes that new music is a dynamic and engaging art and we always seek to discover and share exceptional work that inspires and challenges.  NMC:

 - produces high quality recordings of outstanding work by British composers

 - works with leading artists and ensembles

 - promotes these recordings to expand worldwide audiences for contemporary music

 - preserves this creativity for generations to come

We will release recordings of the New Music Biennial commissions as digital downloads thus making them available to an international audience and providing a long-lasting legacy to the project.


About Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has an extraordinary creative and architectural history stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. For further information please visit



Contact Gael Music

P: +44 (0)1698 459 633


Earnock Glen
South Lanarkshire