Dartington Summer School & Festival with Sir Harrison Birtwistle

Composers from the Advanced Composition Course with Sir Harrison Birtwistle

Composers from the Advanced Composition Course with Sir Harrison Birtwistle


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An overview:

During the week, Birtwistle gave presentations and guided the rehearsals as each composer wrote new works while on the grounds of Dartington. At the end of the week, we presented a continuous concert with monodies to form breaks between each piece. The Gildas Quartet, Tritium Trio, and Lucy Humphris worked with us to premiere our works as well as being involved with a number of other concerts during the week. We are very much saturated in music during this time and it is wonderful to see so much variety - from symphonic and opera works to chamber and vocal works both new and classic.

The lessons that we had with Birtwistle ranged from music theory and historical relations to findings in the gardens on the walk over to our sessions. The grounds at Dartington are so special and it was lovely returning here to work alongside 5 young composers while studying with Birtwistle whom we all very much admire and respect.


Workspace at Dartington - a little cabin overlooking the beautiful gardens where I wrote ‘Duets’

Workspace at Dartington - a little cabin overlooking the beautiful gardens where I wrote ‘Duets’


Each composer worked with one of the two ensembles. For some time, I have been working on orchestrating in different settings, particularly smaller chamber works. This has led to the development of repertoire involving string quartet with a soloist (as opposed to working with piano and a soloist). Wanting to develop this idea and repertoire further, I chose to write for string quartet and trumpet.

The time spent on this course was immersive and enable each of the composers to write not only for the instruments at hand - but for the individual musicians. We worked regularly alongside the musicians in workshops and rehearsals to develop our works over the week at Dartington.

This is the premiere performance of ‘Duets’ by Gildas Quartet and Lucy Humphris.


Performance of John Cage’s ‘Musicircus’

Performance of John Cage’s ‘Musicircus’

Dartington Hall before the evening concerts begin

Dartington Hall before the evening concerts begin

Performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Sacré du Printemps’

Performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Sacré du Printemps’

Kirsten Milenko