Contemporary Composers

We value the opportunity we have to expand our field as musicians and support the composition of new works and bringing world premiere performances to life.

"Looking at this as an arts organization and new festival I think it’s very important to create new work because even though we might have our favorites that we like to listen to, it’s really important to find artists who are relevant in our times, and who are thinking about the same questions we’re all thinking about, to write music we can perform and people can experience through whatever lens they want."  

                                                                         Katie Tertell, President and Artistic Director

This season's programming will see three world-premieres by composers Judith Ring, Mark Boden and Ciaran Farrell. This summer's season will also see the U.S. premiere of two groundbreaking transcriptions by Welsh composer and violinist Simmy Singh. Read on to learn more about this season's contemporary composers!

JUDITH RING

ACMF 2022 Commissioned Composer

Sponsored by Berryville Graphics

Judith Ring (1976) has been writing music for over 20 years and has been greatly inspired by living in such places as Berlin, London, York, Paris and Dublin. In general her music stems from the electro-acoustic world and its core technique is based on the practices of musique concrète. Over the years this has expanded and been influenced by more improvised and instrumental territories derived from a deep exploration of instrumental timbre through collaborative projects with a large number of solo musicians. 


Most recent works include a set of cello pieces called WILDWOOD for cellist Martin Johnson, which was released in February 2022 on bandcamp, a choral piece for The Guinness Choir called The Weaver, a set of flute pieces for Lina Andonovska (one of which “A Breath of Fresh Air” features on Lina’s new CD “A Way A Lone A Last” on Diatribe records), and four pieces for vocal trio Silver Kites of which she is a member. All supported by either commission awards or bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland. 
Ring’s work is often deeply textural and developed through complex layering techniques. For the most part each piece is highly collaborative as she works closely with musicians to discover what their instruments can do. Over the years she has recorded a wide range of sound samples from the standard orchestral instruments to the Ondes Martenot and adapted viola. Each player offers something new to the mix and so each piece is unique to the player(s) involved.


In October 2014 her debut cd entitled What Was was released on Ergodos records to great acclaim. This was funded by the Music Network recording scheme.

Her EP The Ring Lieder was self-released in 2017 and used four poems by poet Roderick Ford as the lyrics for the songs. These were performed by Ring herself (voice and piano), Adrian Hart (violin), Lisa Dowdall (viola) and Kate Ellis (cello).

She has written pieces for Concorde ensemble, Crash Ensemble, Percussemble (Berlin), Trio Scordatura (Amsterdam), Tryst, University of York chamber orchestra, and Bradyworks (Canada). She has also written a large number of solo/duo with/without tape for Lina Andonovska (flute), Matthew Jacobson (drum kit), Martin Johnson (cello), Adele Johnson (viola), Michelle O’Rourke (voice), Kate Ellis (cello), Garth Knox (viola), Natasha Lohan (voice), Paul Roe (bass clarinet), Laura Moody (Cello), Damien Harron (percussion), Elisabeth Smalt (adapted viola), Malachy Robinson (double bass), Andre Leroux (tenor sax) and Rolf Hind (piano) and more. Her pieces have been performed worldwide.


After completing a PhD by composition at the University of York, UK in 2009 she returned to Ireland to re-establish herself on the Irish music scene. Since then she has expanded her musical output by writing for theatre (OFF PLAN by Simon Doyle), putting together a multidisciplinary festival called Sensorium with two colleagues from York, Angie Atmadjaja and Emily Kalies (as The-Link-Project). She is a current member of vocal trio Silver Kites and a former member of Laura Hyland’s group Clang Sayne.


She has lectured and been a tutor in composition at Trinity College Dublin in various capacities since 2019. 


Ring is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland.

For more information please visit:
www.judithring.com
judithring.bandcamp.com

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MARK DAVID BODEN

Composer

Mark took his first step into music by studying with Peter Reynolds at RWCMD before continuing his studies with Ken Hesketh at the Royal College of Music, where he was generously supported by the RVW Trust and Henry Wood Trust. He graduated with Distinction from the MMus course in Advanced Composition in 2011.

He has been awarded a Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal (2008), the LSQ New Music Competition First Prize (2008), the Composer's of Wales William Mathias Composition Prize (2009), The Friends of the Music of St. Giles Cathedral Composition Competition (2010), the British Composer Awards (BASCA) Student Competition (2010) and the University of St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Composition Competition (2011). In 2015 he was awarded the prestigious John Clementi Collard Fellowship from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was re-awarded the fellowship in 2017. Mark was made an associate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2018.

https://www.markdavidboden.co.uk/

SIMMY SINGH

Violinist and Composer

Simmy Singh is a versatile violinist and composer, born and raised in South Wales to an Indian father and English mother, whose ambition is to push the boundaries of classical music and its audiences and to explore creativity and different genres with the violin. She believes in diversity and connection and is passionate about applying these values to the projects she undertakes.

In the classical world, Simmy co-founded the innovative Manchester Collective. A young classical organisation redefining the experience of the classical concert with eclectic programming of world class classical and experimental works presented in both concert halls and club venues around the UK.
Highlights include their 2019 Sirocco tour with cellist, Abel Selaccoe - with performances in Switzerland, Kings Place, CLF Arts Cafe and a sold out performance at the Dora Stoutzker Hall in Cardiff.
They also toured with Poul Hoxbro - a pipes and bones player from Denmark, which included a sold out performance at Stoller Hall in Manchester. Both these tours included story telling, original material and improvisation.

 

Simmy is currently on trial as principal second in the Manchester Camerata - an orchestra she has worked with extensively over the past years. She led the orchestra for their Hacienda Classical performance at the Dubai Opera House, and toured extensively with them for many of these performances - including the Pyramid Stage in Glastonbury, 2017.

 

Simmy was a core member of Sinfonia Cymru, a chamber orchestra from Cardiff. Here she played principal second in their classical concerts but also played a pivotal role in their cross-genre and collaborative projects. such as the Birdsong project with Gwilym Simcock and Kizzy Crawford. She has recently joined the orchestra’s board of trustees and is excited to continue her journey with the orchestra.

 

Simmy has always been keen to push her career far beyond the classical world and has developed a thriving career as a cross-genre violinist. She is leader of the Kaleidoscope Orchestra - who’s recent success with their ‘lockdown sessions’ series has seen them reach 50,000 subscribers, as well as appearances on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Breakfast. They are also the orchestra in residence for Cream and last year headlined the Cream Classical in the Park performance to 32,000 people at Sefton Park.

Simmy is also leader of the Ignition Orchestra, who sold out the Royal Albert Hall for their Garage Classical performance with DJ Spoony.

She also leads the Untold Orchestra, who are set to perform with renowned jazz pianist and composer, Bill Laurance, later this year and are quckly becoming Manchesters most diverse and thriving young crossover orchestra.

 

Simmy also leads Amika - a cross-genre string quartet - who recently toured with Tom Walker for his acoustic ‘Home Run’ Tour. They have also performed with and recorded for Alfa Mist, Jordan Rakei (joining him for his sold out acoustic performance at Ronnie Scotts), Alice Zawadski, Stuart McCallum, Poppy Ajudha, The Breath and Natalie Williams - appearing on all these artist’s latest albums. 

 

In 2017, Simmy was chosen as one of ten participants for the Brighter Sounds Jazz Director Series, who spent a week rehearsing and touring with world renowned jazz artist, Chris Potter. 

 

In 2018, Simmy joined her sister, Rakhi Singh, to develop and perform in Written in Fire - a project devised by electronic artist Vessel. This included a memorised performance of Janacek’s String Quartet - Intimate Letters, followed by a new work for string quartet, electronics and visuals.

ILater this year, Simmy and Rakhi  will combine again to direct a project with Sinfonia Cymru, combining their individual musical paths with a 12-piece string ensemble. This will to include arrangements of Simmy’s original works.

 

Simmy is also a member of the Immix Ensemble - a classical ensemble of unusual instrumentation who collaborate with artists across genres. Highlights have included sell out performances with Jane Weaver, Kelly Lee Owens and Forest Swords (premiered at PRS New Music Biennial). 

 

Following a Musician in Residence programme at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada in 2017, Simmy has begun to work on developing her own creative practices towards becoming a composer-perfomer, as well as her capacity as a remote recording artist.

Her most recent creative success has come from her all-string rework of Four Tet’s track LA Trance in March 2020. The artist ended up sharing her version on all his social platforms and it has been played on BBC Radio Cymru and on Elizabeth Alker’s Unclassified series on BBC Radio 3. As a direct result of Four Tet sharing this track, Simmy has been offered an electro-acoustic violin by the Eastman music company in LA, in exchange for delivering a series of videos about her creative process.

Simmy prides herself on her remote recording enterprise - Sim’s Strings, where she offers string composing, arranging and recording - which is slowly building up an impressive recording portfolio and through which she hopes to continue working with artists from across genres and the globe and build her profile through association with other like-minded, genre-bending artists. Through this venture, Simmy has collaborated with electronic producers, composers and singer-songwriters including Werkha, Frameworks, Casi, Gwilym Simcock and Bill Laurance.

 

Simmy’s latest endeavour has been to embark on a Masters in Music - The Composer-Performer at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Here she is on a mission to find her own unique voice and to help others do the same. 

https://www.simmysingh.co.uk/

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CIARAN FARRELL

Composer, World Premiere Work at ACMF 2022

Irish composer Ciarán Farrell was born in Dublin, Ireland and graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 1997. Growing up he studied piano and clarinet at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and later the guitar at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. He also studied with composer Ennio Morricone at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy.  


He has worked with and received commissions from the BBC, RTÉ lyric fm, RTÉ Performing Groups, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, Craig Ogden, The Smith Quartet, Gerard McChrystal, Duo Ahlert and Schwab, John Feeley, Damien Kelly, Redbrick Duo,  Cois Ceim Dance Theatre, Irish Modern Dance Theatre, and Codetta amongest others.


Ciarán has also composed music for a number of TV and film productions, and has received commissions from RTÉ, C4, Discovery, Littlebird, Café Productions, and Non-Fiction Films.
His latest venture is a new music project entitled, 'Opium Jazz', and features some of Ireland's top musicians. The first EP released under this project title was called, 'Stealing Beauty' (2018), and was followed in 2020 by a second, sister EP entitled, 'Willow'. Both can be streamed from the, 'Opium Jazz', website, www.opiumjazz.com. Full scores, and parts are also available for download.


He has been the recipient of numerous music bursary and commission awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, and his work is performed and broadcast regularly both at home and abroad.

Website: www.ciaranfarrell.com
Website: www.opiumjazz.com 

ERROLYN WALLEN

Singer-Songwriter

Errollyn Wallen is a multi award-winning Belize-born British composer and performer. Her prolific output includes twenty-two operas and a large catalogue of orchestral, chamber and vocal works which are performed and broadcast throughout the world. She was the first black woman to have a work featured in the Proms. Errollyn composed for the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games 2012, for the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, a specially commissioned song for the climate change conference, COP 26, 2021, and a re-imagining of Jerusalem for BBC’s Last Night of the Proms 2020.

BBC Radio 3 featured her music across the first week of 2022 for its flagship programme, Composer of the Week and she has made several radio documentaries including Classical Commonwealth, nominated for the Prix Europa, which explored the impact of colonialism on music in the Commonwealth.

Errollyn Wallen founded her own group, Ensemble X whose motto is “we don’t break down barriers in music…we don’t see any”. Their orchestral album PHOTOGRAPHY on the NMC label was voted a Top Ten Classical Album by USA’s National Public Radio. Orchestra X performed Errollyn’s composition Mighty River, which was featured in PRSF’s New Music Biennial 2017 and which is being performed at this year’s PRSF Biennial by National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at Coventry Cathedral and the Southbank, London.

Errollyn Wallen collaborated with artist Sonia Boyce on her installation, Feeling Her Way, for the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale which won the Golden Lion prize for Best National Participation.

Errollyn’s albums have travelled 7.84 million kilometres in space, completing 186 orbits around the Earth on NASA’s STS115 mission.

Her critically acclaimed opera, Dido’s Ghost premiered at the Barbican, London, in June 2021 and will receive its US premiere in 2023 in San Francisco by co-commissioners Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale.

Recent and forthcoming premieres include a piano concerto composed for pianist Rebeca Ormodia, The World’s Weather, an orchestral work premiered by BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, and new choral works for King’s College Choir, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral and Harrow School.

The April premiere and tour of her latest opera (for Graeae Theatre Company), The Paradis Files, coincided with the premiere of Quamino’s Map, for Chicago Opera Theater.

Errollyn was awarded an MBE in 2007 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and a CBE in 2020 in the New Year Honours, for services to music.


Errollyn lives and composes in a Scottish lighthouse.

June 2022  |  https://www.errollynwallen.com

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AILBHE MCDONAGH

Cellist and Composer

Ailbhe McDonagh is an Irish composer and cellist based in Dublin, Ireland. She is a member of the cello faculty of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. 

Ailbhe began composing at an early age and won first prizes for composition at 'Feis Ceoil', (the Irish National Music Festival) and in the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.  While still at school the first of her pieces was published in 2002, when the RIAM Local Centre Examinations (Irish National Grade Examination System) included ‘Anastasia’ in their Grade 4 examination collection.
 
In addition to piano and cello, Ailbhe studied composition at university in Ireland.  Following that, she took classes in composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY while studying for her Master’s Degree in Performance on cello. 
 
Ailbhe composes for all instruments and ensembles. As a cellist, she performs worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician and performs contemporary music regularly. Most well-known for her compositions for piano for children, Ailbhe has had numerous compositions published by the RIAM Examinations System resulting in her pieces being performed nationally by thousands of children in Ireland.

Chamber music commissions include works for the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival, Hamburg Chamber Music Festival, Calary Music Festival and the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival, USA.

In 2017, Ailbhe released two books of piano compositions for the beginner pianist called ‘It’s a Piano Thing’ Books 1 & 2 which were published by Boosey&Hawkes. Since then, Ailbhe has been commissioned by performing artists and festivals worldwide.

In 2021, Ailbhe released two books of cello compositions for the young cellist with Boosey&Hawkes called ‘It’s a Cello Thing’ Books 1 & 2. Other publications for Boosey&Hawkes include works for violin, viola and double bass. She has also been published by LCM, Hal Leonard and on the ABRSM piano syllabus.

https://www.ailbhemcdonagh.com/

SARAH GIBSON

As one who loves poetry

for two celli

2018, revised 2020

Sarah Gibson is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist whose works draw on her breadth of experience as a collaborative performer with a deep interest in the creative process across various artistic mediums. She has received honors and recognitions such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Sound Investment composer, American Composers Orchestra Underwood New Music Readings, Copland House Residency, Victor Herbert ASCAP award, and a Chamber Music America Grant. She has received commissions from the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center, Arco Collaborative, Toulmin Foundation, Aspen Summer Music Festival & School, and Seattle Symphony, among others. Gibson’s music has been performed by the BBC Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Atlanta, Sarasota, and Seattle Symphonies, Jennifer Koh, HOCKET, and at various venues across the United States and in Europe.
 
Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, which has been lauded as "brilliant" by the LA Times' Mark Swed, and is a core artist for the inimitable Los Angeles Series, Piano Spheres. HOCKET has held residences at Avaloch Farm Music Institute and received grants from the Earle Brown Music Foundation and the Presser Foundation. HOCKET has performed with Seattle Symphony, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Kaleidscope Chamber Orchestra, and at such festivals as the MATA Festival, the L.A. Philharmonic's Noon to Midnight, Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab, and the Other Minds Festival.
 
Sarah received degrees in Piano and Composition from Indiana University and the University of Southern California. Alongside Artistic Director Andrew Norman, she is the Lead-Teaching Artist for the esteemed Los Angeles Philharmonic Composer Fellowship Program. Sarah received degrees in Piano and Composition from Indiana University and the University of Southern California and is Assistant Professor in Composition at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University, Long Beach.

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DANISH STRING QUARTET

Frederik Øland (Violin); Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen (Violin);
Asbjørn Nørgaard (Viola); Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin (Cello)

Among today’s many exceptional chamber music groups, the GRAMMY® nominated Danish String Quartet continuously asserts its preeminence. The Quartet’s playing reflects impeccable musicianship, sophisticated artistry, exquisite clarity of ensemble, and, above all, an expressivity inextricably bound to the music, from Haydn to Shostakovich to contemporary scores. Performances bring a rare musical spontaneity, giving audiences the sense of hearing even treasured canon repertoire as if for the first time, and exuding a palpable joy in music-making that have made them enormously in-demand on concert stages throughout the world. The recipient of many awards and prestigious appointments, including Musical America’s 2020 Ensemble of the Year and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Danish String Quartet was named in 2013 as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and appointed to the The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two).

MARK O'CONNOR

American Fiddler

Mark O'Connor began his creative journey at the feet of American fiddling legend Benny Thomasson, and the iconic French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. Now, at age 55, he has melded these influences into a new American classical music, and is perpetuating his vision of an American School of String Playing.

 

Mr. O’Connor has won three Grammys, seven CMA awards as well as several national fiddle, guitar and mandolin champion titles. His distinguished career includes representing the United States Information Agency in cultural diplomacy to six continents and performing in front of several U.S. presidents.

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