Martin Read Festival


I often mention the Martin Read Foundation, who support school and college age composers with live workshops and performances. They’ve responded very resourcefully to the necessity of going totally digital for a while, and this last weekend presented their whole yearly new music festival online. I had the pleasure of discussing nine premieres with their creators (played remotely by members of this same group, and somehow knitted together into recorded performances) If anyone is interested to visit the session, this too has been embroidered into a film by MRF’s Beccy Read.


For this year’s set of new works, the composers were asked to respond to “Distance” - presumably as in "socially distanced" etc. A constant FAQ posed to me during the last year has been, “has your music changed as a result of writing it during the lockdown?” and I can only reply “ it’s too early to tell”. But during this workshop, we observed a regular phenomenon whereby a piece would start very sparsely, sometimes rather anxiously, but then about halfway through transform into something much warmer and more continuous. In general it was the richness of the various soundworlds that struck me throughout. This mainly A-level and undergraduate cohort had undergone some of the most extreme inconveniences and difficulties of lockdown, but their music seemed to be rising heroically above it all.

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer