Today the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) announces the winners of its prestigious programme for emerging composers, Composers’ Hub.
Jasper Dommett is named overall winner of the 2020:21 cohort, while Carlijn Metselaar was the overall winner from the 2019:20 programme.
Both winners composed works for full orchestra, with Jasper’s piece Dreams of Isolation, exploring what it means to be alone and how dreaming keeps us connected with other people, places, and times. Carlijn’s piece, Into the Living Mountain, was inspired by the sense of awe and unease wild places can evoke, as vividly described in Nan Shepherd’s classic book about the Scottish Highlands, The Living Mountain.
Jasper and Carlijn will have their works premiered by the RSNO as part of the forthcoming 2021:22 Season. Both are announced as winners today following disruption to the 2019:20 cohort’s programme by the coronavirus pandemic, which prevented its completion until this year.
Aimed at composers in the early stages of their career, Composers’ Hub gives early-career composers a rare opportunity to compose for orchestra in a range of different contexts, develop skills and creative relationships, as well as acquire an understanding of the business of a major arts organisation. The programme participants are mentored throughout by Stuart MacRae, as well as other leading contemporary composers, in this instance by Roxanna Panufnik and David Fennessy, each lending their experience and expertise to the programme.
Now in its sixth year, five emerging composers were chosen to take part in the Composers’ Hub programme, spending the respective 2020:21 and 2019:20 seasons with the RSNO. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, both cohorts had to operate differently to normal, with the Composers’ Hub programme being adapted so that it could continue to take place in a digital setting, with coaching and mentoring sessions taking place online, in addition to in-person workshop sessions when restrictions permitted.
However, the pandemic also afforded new opportunities for the 2020:21 Composers’ Hub members. The programme was reconfigured to allow each composer to work closely with a few members of the RSNO to discuss ideas and techniques and to develop a short piece for those musicians, in addition to enjoying the opportunity to write a piece for the full orchestra. The 2020:21 programme was also the first to include international artists in its cohort, with a young composer from Poland able to participate for the first time, taking part online from home.
The two schemes culminated in two public workshops taking place at the RSNO Centre, Glasgow, in April and June 2021, from which Jasper and Carlijn’s works were chosen as overall composition winners.
Composers’ Hub 19:20 winner Carlijn Metselaar: ‘The RSNO Composers’ Hub is an invaluable opportunity for emerging composers. Imagining new orchestral music is one skill but learning how to write this music as effectively as possible for an orchestra to play is another, which can only be learned hands on. This scheme gives composers the experience to bridge the gap between what they imagine and what is practical for the orchestra. It allows them to try out their most interesting and adventurous ideas without having to ‘play it safe’. It was incredibly inspiring to learn from the workshops, mentors, and from all the other participants - I feel very fortunate to have taken part.’
Composers’ Hub 20:21 winner, Jasper Dommett: ‘Having the chance to write two works for the RSNO and then workshop them with live feedback from the Orchestra is something unheard of in the professional world. This alone has been invaluable to me as a composer. Being able to also listen and learn from your fellow composers’ is another defining factor from this scheme, not forgetting the fantastic mentorship from Stuart MacRae and Roxanna Panufnik. I feel so humbled that my work has been chosen to be performed by the RSNO, especially when all the works were of an extremely high standard. I am excited for you all to hear the live premiere.’
RSNO Director of Artistic Planning and Engagement Bill Chandler said: ‘The RSNO is so pleased to have been able to host workshops both live and online during what has been such a challenging year. What a pleasure it was to hear such fresh and imaginative voices brought to life by the musicians of the RSNO! The extraordinary standard from both cohorts reveals to us that the pandemic has not crushed creativity and that the future of new music in the UK is in safe hands. Bravo to all!’
Composers’ Hub Programme Mentor Stuart MacRae said: ‘It was a thrilling and unusual surprise to hear two years' worth of Composers' Hub scores in the space of only a few weeks. The RSNO and the composers rose to the challenge magnificently, the latter producing new pieces that were varied in style and exceptional in quality. I am delighted that Carlijn Metselaar's sophisticated and subtle "Into the Living Mountain" and Jasper Dommett's poignant and beautiful "Dreams of Isolation" will feature in the RSNO's 2021:22 season and look forward to hearing them in the concert hall.’
Roxanna Panufnik, Composers’ Hub guest mentor 2020:21 said: ‘The astonishing breadth of variety and imagination in the works leaves me feeling happy and excited for the future of the UK’s contemporary music scene. It was wonderful to watch the collaboration between RSNO players, conductor Jonathan Berman and composers, as they worked together to get the best performance of their creative intentions.’
David Fennessy, Composers’ Hub guest mentor 2019:20 said: ‘It really was a huge honour to be involved in this year’s Composers’ Hub as a mentor. After a long, difficult year of silence, it was a joy to be in the room with such vibrant music and such strong musical identities. As a composer it is hugely inspiring to be surrounded by such creativity and enthusiasm and I look forward to hearing more music in the future from all the composers involved. Programmes like Composers’ Hub demonstrate the continued viability and indeed vitality of new orchestral music. Long may it continue!’
The RSNO is grateful to The RVW Trust, The Leche Trust, The Garrick Charitable Trust, The Idlewild Trust, The Michael Tippett Musical Foundation, and the RSNO’s New Works Patron, Susie Thomson, for their support of UK-based participants in the 2020:21 Composers' Hub.
The 2020:21 Composers’ Hub was partially supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the international cultural programme marking the centenary of Poland’s regained independence. Financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland as part of the Multi-annual Programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017–2022.
The 2019:20 Composers’ Hub was supported by the RSNO’s New Works Patron, Susie Thomson.
Further information about the RSNO’s Composers’ Hub, can be found here.