The association between Michael Torke and the London Sinfonietta is a long and fruitful one, so that it seemed to me that as the orchestra is celebrating its 30th birthday this year we should include a piece about them as a birthday present?
The London Sinfonietta plays a vibrant part in the musical life in England and is the only permanent ensemble devoted to the music of today. They have commissioned over 120 works and premiered some 250 works!!
The London Sinfonietta is Britain's flagship for the creation, understanding and enjoyment of the music of today, and aims to promote new musical experiences in exciting and challenging ways. It has a commissioning programme that reflects the stylistic diversity and richness of music being composed, both nationally and internationally, and supports the development of young composers as well as the achievements of more established figures. It also run an innovative and wide-ranging education programme, encouraging new audiences' involvement in the artistic experience through creative participation and interaction with composers and performers.
Founded in 1968 by David Atherton and Nicholas Snowman, the London Sinfonietta's Artistic Director from 1972 to 1989 was the late Michael Vyner. He was succeeded by the pianist Paul Crossley (1988 - 1994), and since September 1994 the Principal Conductor has been the young German Markus Stenz. The London Sinfonietta performs an enormously diverse repertoire, ranging from small to very large forces. Of 233 world premiere performances, over 100 have been specially commissioned, very often for the core group of 16 principal players. The ensemble enjoys fruitful associations with many of the world's most established living composers, including Adams, Berio, Birtwistle, Boulez, Carter, Gorecki, Henze, Kurtag, Maxwell Davies, Ligeti, Schnittke, Stockhausen and Xenakis. It has also formed a close working relationship with the composer/ conductors Oliver Knussen and George Benjamin and continues to champion the music of younger generations, in particular such British composers as Simon Holt, Mark-Anthony Turnage and most recently Thomas Ades and Julian Anderson.
The London Sinfonietta has mounted several large-scale festivals celebrating the music of some of this century's musical giants: Schoenberg and Gerhard, Weill, Webern (with Schubert), Britten and Tippett, Ravel and Varèse, and a three year Stravinsky Festival. Other series have been devoted to the music of the last 30 years, and in 1991 the London Sinfonietta becam co-founder with Simon Rattle and the CBSO of Towards the Millennium, a celebration of the arts from each decade of the 20th century throughout the 1990s.
The London Sinfonietta presents regular concerts in London, at the South Bank Centre, where it is an Associate and with whom it frequently collaborates. It travels widely in Great Britain and abroad, and is a regular visitor to major international fes t ivals at home and abroad including Wien Modern, the Munich Biennale, Musica Strasbourg and the Holland, Huddersfield and Aldeburgh festivals. The London Sinfonietta has made over 100 recordings, and has won awards for its discs of works by Benjamin. Birtwistle, Britten, Carter, Kern (Showboat), Stravinsky, Takemitsu, Tippett and Weill. Its CD of Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 has sold almost 1 million copies worldwide, and has won a growing number of prestigious international awards since its release.
In addition to its concert work, the London Sinfonietta has collaborated on many opera and music-theatre projects, most notably with David Freeman's Opera Factory, and with Glyndebourne Touring Opera on the world premieres of operas by Oliver Knussen and Nigel Osborne. In December 1991 the London Sinfonietta was conducted by John Adams in the French premiere of the Adams/Sellars opera Nixon in China. In May 1996 it collaborated with the Richard Alton Dance Company on a programme of music by Harrison Birtwistle in London and Aldeburgh, and it joins forces for a second successive year with Almeida Opera in 1997, in Munich and London, to give the premiere performances of The Juniper Tree by young British composer Roderick Watkins.
In 1983 the London Sinfonietta initiate a pioneering education programme to encourage active involvement in creative music-making among as wid a public as possible. London Sinfonietta players work with leading composers and artists to mount projects thematically linked ot London Sinfonietta concerts in many sections of the community, involving schoolchildren and teachers, students, senior citizens, people with disabilities, amateur music ensembles, youth groups, women's groups and prisoners. The London Sinfonietta's education work has close ties with the National Curriculum, offering students and teachers additional resources to fulfil the new creative composition requirements.
London Sinfonietta Response, Explorations and most recently State of the Nation events complement the education programme, placing concerts in a more welcoming context, with films, workshops and discussions adding to the enjoyment and appreciation of the music being presented. To-date Response projects have been held in London, Durham, Humberside, Berlin, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Norway. The ensemble is increasingly in demand from overseas to provide training in creative workshop and composition techniques for professional musicians and music educationalists.
The London Sinfonietta gratefully acknowledges the support of the Arts Council of England, the BBC, the British Council, and the Performing Rights Society.
Contact details for the orchestra are as follows:
4, Maguire Street,
London SE1 2NQ
Telephone 0171 378 8123
Fax 0171 378 0937
Source attribution:Text and photographs kindly supplied by London Sinfonietta
If you have any comments, additions or questions I would be really pleased to hear from you!
Copyright © David Charlton, 1998.
Last Updated by David Charlton on Monday, 26 January, 1998
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The music of Michael Torke is published by Boosey and Hawkes