Special events to celebrate Coquetdale composer’s birthday

From several world

premieres to a new CD of orchestral works, a series of special events is taking place this year to celebrate the 65th birthday of Coquetdale composer, John Casken.

His work is often inspired by literature and legend, landscape and painting and particularly by the countryside where he lives.

Casken has a long association with Royal Northern Sinfonia, as well as with The Lindsays and more recently with Quatuor Danel.

His compositions have won a Gramophone award, the First Britten Prize for Composition, the Prince Pierre de Monaco Prize and a British Composer Award for Vocal Music.

On April 10, the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder will give the world premiere of Casken’s new oboe concerto Apollinaire’s Bird with the orchestra’s principal oboe player Stéphane Rancourt at The Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester.

A live recording of the premiere performance of Casken’s Apollinaire’s Bird by oboist Stephané Rancourt, the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder will be turned around and released a few days later as a free download by NMC Recordings for a limited time only.

On the same day, NMC Recordings will also launch Casken’s new disc, featuring three major orchestral works including one from each of the last three decades, Orion Over Farne (1984-86), Violin Concerto (1994-95) and Concerto for Orchestra (2007).

Orion over Farne reflects aspects of the landscape and literature of Northumberland. The Violin Concerto received its premiere at the BBC Proms in 1995, while Concerto for Orchestra is Casken’s most recent orchestral work which was written for the Nationaltheater-Orchesters Mannheim and is still awaiting a UK premiere.

All the works on the disc are performed by the Hallé under the baton of Markus Stenz.

In July, The Hilliard Ensemble with Royal Northern Sinfonia and Clark Rundell perform John Casken’s work The Dream of the Rood at the Brinkburn Music Festival, followed by a tour in October 2014 in the Netherlands with the ASKO Ensemble.

Premiered in Liverpool in 2008, The Dream of the Rood was co-commissioned by Liverpool Capital of Culture, and the Hilliard Ensemble.

Alongside these activities as a composer, John Casken is also chairman and artistic director of Alwinton Church Summer Concerts.

The programme runs from May to July in Alwinton and the 2014 series will welcome the Quatuor Danel with Petr Prause, Psappha, Durham Cathedral Consort, and the Alistair Anderson Band.

Concert organisers have also launched a National Composers’ Competition. Three scores will be selected for a workshop in Alwinton Church on Saturday, May 31, and the winning work will be performed by members of Psappha in a concert at Alwinton that evening, and in a future concert to be given by the ensemble in Manchester.

For more concert/competition details, visit alwintonconcerts.org