Thanks to a generous grant from OLD POSSUM’S PRACTICAL TRUST we are commissioning two pieces that we have been developing over the last year or so.
LOOK BOTH WAYS
by Conor Mitchell
“Take care of yourself – look both ways in crossing roads, wrap up well, & don’t get your feet wet – because you belong to me!” – Britten to Pears, 1944
The letters between Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears (published all together in the book My Beloved Man) not only chronicle the 35-year relationship between two extraordinary artists but also between two lovers.
The letters run the gamut from hot passion to deep love, via quirky silliness, jealousy and exasperation. Often brilliant, sometimes mundane, frequently playful, always loving, they are an insight into an enduring and powerful relationship.
We have thought for a good while that they could be used to write a work that celebrates not just this landmark partnership but any long-term relationship and the universality of love.
We have secured permission from Britten Pears Arts to use the letters and we are commissioning Conor Mitchell to compose a cycle for two voices (one high, one low, any gender/non-binary) and piano trio (piano, violin, cello).
The voice combination will always be flexible and we are keen to avoid any imitation of the lovers’ own voices.
To this end we plan to use several pairs of singers, focusing less on the first performance and more on a rolling world premiere of multiple performances. For more on the concept of rolling world premieres, head to this page.
We already have the co-operation of the Cheltenham Music Festival and are looking for more partnerships in the UK, Europe and the USA to produce the cycle extensively in 2022/3
Three Poets’ Cats
by Arthur Keegan-Bole
In September of 2020, Oliver Soden published his latest book, a biography of the poet Christopher Smart’s cat, Jeoffry: The Poet’s Cat and we commissioned Arthur Keegan-Bole to write a duet for us to perform at the launch in Aldeburgh.
We were so impressed, as was Oliver and the audience, and the abundance of material around the subject was so great, that we have expanded the commission to a three-song cycle.
One of the beauties of the original work was that it could be performed by two singers, a laptop (controlled by one of the singers) and a portable loudspeaker.
This is the format that will be used for the entire cycle, which means that it can be performed anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t need a piano. It doesn’t even need mains electricity.
Harriet Wybor writes on the PRS website, reflecting on their composer workshops, including the Wild Plum Songbook workshop in 2019:
‘This year has provided the space to reflect on the state of how things were pre-pandemic and to examine the gaping holes which existed.’ Harriet Wybor speaks to Sarah Lianne Lewis, Kate Marlais, Ella Jarman-Pinto, Eloise Gynn, Lola de la Mata, Janet Oates, Zoë Martlew, Carmen Ho, Rose Miranda Hall and Lisa Robertson as part of M’s International Women’s Day curation.
Katy Hamilton, broadcaster and musicogist, interviewed us for her blog.
In September 2020 we commissioned a new piece which we performed in Aldeburgh at the launch of Oliver Soden’s new book.
We hosted artist residencies in Aldeburgh in Augusts 2020 and 2021. For details visit our ARTIST RESIDENCIES page.
On November 2nd we performed for the first time at the Wiltshire Music Centre in collaboration with Bath’s “excellent” (The Observer) Camerata in a programme called MAKE OR BREAK. More details here
The first concert with a Wild Plum Arts commission was at the Wigmore Hall, London, on June 29th 2018, with Lucy Schaufer and Huw Watkins, and it featured new commissions by John Corigliano and Michele Brourman. Reviews and feedback are here.
We also performed the programme at the Buxton International Festival, the Ravinia Festival and St John’s Smith Square. Plans are underway to record The Class of 1938 on CD.
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