Preview: RNCM presents New Music North West

Suzy Prince

Eight days of music by 100 living composers at the RNCM.

The Royal Northern College of Music presents the UK’s largest festival of new British music. New Music North West (22-29 Jan) amounts to over 30 events (both free and ticketed), incorporating more than 50 world premieres by established and aspiring composers who live or work in the North West. The concerts will take place in some iconic venues, too, including the RNCM itself, the stunning, historic surrounds of Chetham’s School of Music, as well as the relatively new BBC Philharmonic Studio over at Media City UK.

Over 50 world premieres by established and aspiring composers who live or work in the North West

The great thing about this festival is that, musically speaking, anything goes – as long as it’s of the very highest quality. Take your pick from opera, orchestras, chamber music, folk or pop; some events even offer a combination of genres.

Spearheaded by artistic director Clark Rundell, highlights of New Music North West include concerts by the BBC Philharmonic and Psappha, House of Bedlam, The Vonnegut Collective, Vaganza, and RNCM’s own Symphony and Wind Orchestras, as well as Mysterious 44, a new opera by Kevin Malone based on Mark Twain’s final, unfinished novel The Mysterious Stranger. The latter piece is accompanied by narration by controversial scientist Richard Dawkins, a singing computer, and a surround-sound electronic score.

The new music scene in the North West is thriving, and has never been as diverse or experimental as it is now. Whether you live in the North West, are a musician with a vested interest, or are visiting from elsewhere, this festival provides an ideal, concentrated way of checking out new music in its many forms. As Rundell advises, “be prepared to pin your ears back and be taken on quite a listening journey.”

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