09 February 2017
Pianist William Howard premieres new piano ‘love songs’ and announces the winners of his international composing competition
In an imaginative project designed to connect audiences and composers, renowned British Pianist William Howard has invited amateur and professional composers from the UK and abroad to write love songs for solo piano, including Judith Weir, Master of the Queens Music, Nico Muhly, and Arcade Fire’s Richard
Reed Parry. William will premiere a selection of these new works on 26 April at Hoxton Hall, London.
The project began with the release of William’s highly acclaimed album of romantic songs without words, Sixteen Love Songs, on Orchid Classics in June 2016 (ORC100056). This inspired the launch of an international Love Song Composing Competition in collaboration with Judith Weir, in which entrants wrote their own contemporary response to the love song genre. The competition attracted over 500 entries from 54 different countries, ranging from New Zealand to Northern Ireland, Malaysia to Moldova, Ukraine to Uruguay, Syria to Singapore, with an age range of 13 to 90. The results will be announced on 14 February, and the winning piece will be performed at Hoxton Hall. Competition Patron Judith Weir comments: “Playing short piano solos in the intimate surroundings of home was an important part of 19th century musical expression, and by launching the competition, we also hoped that our composers could create a modern form of that personal, accessible pianism, playable and enjoyable for a wide range of pianists and their hearers.”
In addition to performances from the Love Song Composing Competition, The Hoxton Hall event will also see the premiere of new love songs for solo piano from leading composers, including Richard Reed Parry (of Arcade Fire), Joby Talbot, Robert Saxton, David Knotts, Pavel Zemek Novák. The programme will also include Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Love Song for Dusty, written for the project last year.
A further seven commissions will receive their first performance in concerts at The Forge in Camden on 26 June (works by Judith Weir, Howard Skempton, and Bernard Hughes) and the Cheltenham International Festival on 9 July (works by Nico Muhly, Elena Kats-Chernin, Michael Zev Gordon and Piers Hellawell). Speaking about the new collection, William Howard comments: “Throughout my professional life I have enjoyed working with composers and trying to bring their music to a wider audience. By offering composers a theme, namely love, which is common to music across the globe and across the centuries, I am hoping to engage more people in the rich diversity of music being written today. I am thrilled that so many talented composers have responded so enthusiastically to my commissioning project. The worldwide response to the competition has also been overwhelming and has a story of its own to tell.” William Howard, “a thoughtful and poetic player” (Sunday Times) is one of Britain’s leading pianists, enjoying a career that has taken him to over forty different countries. As soloist and founder member of the Schubert Ensemble, he performs regularly at major venues and festivals in the UK and has made over forty CD recordings. A lover of romantic piano repertoire, he has also collaborated with over a hundred composers and has commissioned new works throughout his professional career.
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