Without Fear of Vertigo

——An Exchange Concert from Birmingham Conservatoire



At 19:30 on May 25, 2016/ Wednesday

CCOM Recital Hall


Daniele Rosina, conductor

Thallein Ensemble  

1. Andrew Toovey  Euonia for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)  5'


2. Seán Clancy Five Lines of Music Slow Down and Eventually Stop for cello, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)  9'


3. Howard Skempton Gemini Dances for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion and piano (1994)  9'


4. Fang Fang Unattachable Attachments for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)  6'


----- Intermission ----


5. Michael Wolters Emmaus Pages for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion, piano and narration (1991/2016)  21'


6. Ed Bennett Slow-Motion Music for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, percussion and piano (2016)  8'


7. Joe Cutler Without Fear of Vertigo for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2001)  8'


Duygu Ince, violin

Matthew Johnstone, viola

Aisling Reilly, double bass

Elsa Shih, flute/piccolo/alto flute

Anton Clarke-Butler, clarinet/bass clarinet/E flat clarinet

James Potter, trumpet

Jose Martinez Martin, percussion

Russell Harrold, piano

Daniele Rosina, conductor


Andrew Toovey


 Andrew Toovey (b. 1962 London) is a recipient of composition awards including the Tippett Prize, Terra Nova Prize, the Bernard Shore Viola Composition Award and an RVW Trust Award. Two portrait CDs of his music were released on the Largo label in 1998, and many individual pieces are represented on others CD labels including NMC. His music is partially published by Boosey and Hawkes, and most of his output is available to view on YouTube on his own channel. Toovey was associate composer for the Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) from 1993-5 and has been the artistic director of the new music ensemble IXION since 1987. He was composer-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Canada for four successive years with his two operas and music theatre works. He has worked extensively on education projects for Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Huddersfield Festival, the South Bank Centre and the London Festival Orchestra, and has been composer-in-residence at Opera Factory and the South Bank Summer School. He currently teaches composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire part of BCU, and has been awarded an M3C PhD research grant in composition.


Andrew Toovey studied composition with Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy and briefly with Morton Feldman. After completing his BMus(hons) music degree at Surrey University he went on to take both an MA and MPhil at the University of Sussex, specialising in both composition and aesthetics.


Toovey's work embraces a huge diversity of influences, from musical extremes such as Feldman and Finnissy, or the poetry of Artaud, Cummings and Rilke, to a passion for 20th-century art - especially that by Bacon, Beuys, Davies, Hayter, Klee, Miro, Newman, Rauschenberg, Riley, Rothko and many more.


He is currently writing a series of concertos for various performers including Andrew Smith (clarinet), Charles Mutter (violin), and Michael Finnissy (piano). Also pieces for the Thallein Ensemble – Verboten and Euonia, Project Instrumental – Holding You for 11 string players, Ej upp for recorder quartet, First Out for Ian Pace (solo piano) - and vocal settings, with viola - The way it is now. Longer term compositions include an opera Narrow Rooms based on a novel by James Purdy to a libretto by Michael Finnissy.


Andrew Toovey: Euonia for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)Aaron Billson, cello


Euonia (has no exact meaning, but combines all five English vowels, AEIOU) was especially written for the Birmingham Conservatoire’s new music ensemble Thallein for their debut performances in China. It is dedicated to celebrate the birth of Arthur (born 23/03/2016) son of Rose Redgrave and Joe Cutler. I recently wrote a connected piece, also for Thallein called ‘Verboten’ (2015) which used very little musical material (a short section is directly quoted towards the end of Euonia distinguished by the only use of marimba and sleigh bells in the percussion). In contrast Euonia uses a much more diverse textural palate.  


Sean Clancy


Dublin born composer Seán Clancy’s (b. 1984) music has been described as ‘equal part sacred, seductive and superficial’ (Tempo). And ‘exploring the tensions between found and original material, narrative and rupture, elite and vernacular values, and between innovation and intervention’ (Journal of Music).


Seán is currently composer in association with Workers Union Ensemble (2015/16), and in the past he has been an artist in residence at the Moog Soundlab (2015), composer in residence at EMS Elektronmusikstudion (2014), BCMG/SAM Composer in Residence (2010-2012), and a recipient of an RTÉ Lyric FM/IMRO Composition Bursary (2012). Additionally, he has been a featured composer in the MATA festival, New York (2016), RTÉ NSO Music of Our Time Series (2016), New Dots Series, London (2016), David Lang’s ‘What?… Wow Festival of Music’ (2015), Soundings at the Austrian Cultural Forum (2015), the RTÉ NSO Horizons Series (2014), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2013), and Quatuor Bozzini Composers’ Kitchen (2013).


His work has been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s leading ensembles and artists and he has developed particularly close ties with the RTÉ NSO, BCMG, Quatuor Bozzini, Crash Ensemble, Ensemble KROCK, Workers Union Ensemble, Orkest de Ereprijs, Decibel, Fidelio Trio, Thallein Ensemble and Thumb. In the past number of years, he has also worked with soloists Susan Narucki, and Garth Knox, and conductors Alan Pierson, Richard Baker, Gavin Moloney, Clement Power, Ben Oliver, Dan Watson, Dan Rosina, and Ciaran Crilly. He has received support from organisations such as the Britten Pears-Foundation, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Sound & Music, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, The Arts Council of Ireland, IMRO and has been broadcast on amongst others; WNYC (USA), RTÉ lyric FM (Ireland), BBC Radio 3 (UK), and Klassika Raadio (Estonia).His first recording ‘Forty Five Minutes of Music on the Subject of Football’ was released by Birmingham Record Company in 2015.


Seán received his PhD from Birmingham Conservatoire, where he is now a Lecturer in Composition, and holds degrees from King’s College London, University College Dublin and the Ecole Nationale de Musique. Principle teachers have included Joe Cutler, Philippe Leroux and Howard Skempton (alongside informal studies with Gerald Barry and David Lang). He is represented by the Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland.


Seán Clancy: Five Lines of Music Slow Down and Eventually Stop for cello, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)


Five Lines of Music that Slow Down and Eventually Stop is scored for trumpet, vibraphone, cello, and piano, and contains five lines of music that slow down and eventually stop. It is composed for the last Frontiers concert in Birmingham Conservatoire’s Adrian Boult Hall, shortly before the hall is scheduled to be demolished.


Howard Skempton


Howard While Skempton (born 31 October 1947) is an English composer, pianist, and accordionist. Skempton was born in Chester and studied at Birkenhead School and Ealing Technical Collegyue. He started composing before 1967, but that year he moved to London and began taking private lessons in composition from Cornelius Cardew. In spring 1969, Skempton and Michael Parsons organized the Scratch Orchestra. This ensemble, which had open membership, was dedicated to performing experimental contemporary music by composers such as La Monte Young, John Cage and Terry Riley, as well as by members of the orchestra itself. One of Skempton's early works, Drum No. 1 (1969), became one of the "most useful and satisfying" pieces in the repertory of the Scratch Orchestra.

In 1974 Skempton and Michael Parsons formed a duo to perform their own works. The 1980s saw an increase of interest in Skempton's music, which led to more commissions and permitted him to compose more for larger forces. Lento, an orchestral work composed in late 1991, became one of Skempton's most widely recognized pieces. In the 1990s important recordings of his works started appearing, such as a disc of piano music recorded by his old friend and former Scratch Orchestra colleague John Tilbury, released on Sony Classical in 1996, and Surface Tension, a recording of miscellaneous works released on Mode Records. Skempton was the winner in the Chamber Scale Composition category at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards in 2005 for his string quartet Tendrils (2004).



Howard Skempton: Gemini Dances for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion and piano (1994)


Gemini Dances was commissioned by Bromsgrove Concerts with funds from West Midland Arts. I was happy to take up an early suggestion from Ian Mitchell (Director of the ensemble Gemini) to write something like a suite of pieces for different combinations, from which movements can be extracted if desired.




Chinese composer Fang Fang (B.1984) is one of the young Chinese artists impressively bridging the divide between Chinese folk music and western classical music. Her compositions include vocal, choral, chamber, piano and orchestral works.


She was a lecturer in Composition Department of Sichuan Conservatory of Music, China. As a specialist in Chinese traditional music, her specialties include Mongolian and Tibetan music, as well as the music of Zhuang, Dong and Miao tribes. For her efforts in integrating Chinese folk and philosophical elements into her compositions, she has gained several national and international awards including the prestigious Chinese “Golden Bell Award of Chinese National Music” (2011) the Winner of “John Mayer Prize” (2014 and 2015), Birmingham Chamber Music Society Prize (2015) and Birmingham Conservatoire Orchestral Composition Prize (2015).


Her compositions have been premiered by many outstanding orchestras and ensembles, such as Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Birmingham Conservatoire Repertoire Orchestra, Decibel Ensemble, Le Page Ensemble, Via Nova Choir and Krock Electric Guitar Quartet.


Currently she is studying composition with Joe Cutler, Andrew Toovey, Michael Wolters and Howard Skempton for her PhD Degree at Birmingham Conservatoire under a scholarship from the Chinese Scholarships Council that she won in 2013.



Fang Fang: Unattachable Attachments for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2016)


Unattachable Attachments is written as a conclusive piece as my PhD study at Birmingham Conservatoire (United Kingdom) was ending. This piece is based on the fragments that are taken from my other nine compositions. All of those nine pieces focus on using the pre-existing elements and material of Chinese folksongs. I treat Unattachable Attachments like a reflection of those nine pieces, which recalls me the unforgettable memories during my study in England.



Michael Wolters


Michael Wolters was born in 1971 in Mönchengladbach, Germany and grew up in Niederkrüchten, a small German village on the Dutch border. After working as a care worker in a children's home and a runner at several theatres in Germany and Scarborough he studied Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany and Composition at the University of Huddersfield (BA, MA) and the University of Birmingham (PhD). His teachers include Christopher Fox, Heiner Goebbels, Patric Standford and Vic Hoyland.


His works have been performed at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the ISCM World Music Days in Manchester, Spitalfields Festival, the Barbican Centre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Purcell Room, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Tate Liverpool and various other concert halls, festivals, supermarkets, art galleries, shoe shops, theatres, banks, opera houses, in cafes, on beaches, on ice rinks, in cinemas, on the radio, on TV; in Europe, Russia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada.


He works in close relationship with the German theatre artist Marcus Droß and he’s a founding member of the artists’ collective New Guide to Opera.


He joined the composition department in 2004 as a visiting tutor and was awarded the title of Associate Professor in Composition in 2015.


His recent commissions include Ava’s Wedding – An English Tragedy: a full-length opera written for and performed by Birmingham Conservatoire; Requiem: his fifth commission from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; Danserye and chorus/groove space: two collaborations with choreographer Sebastian Matthias.


Michael Wolters: Emmaus Pages for violin, cello, flute, clarinet, percussion, piano and narration (1991/2016) 


When Emmaus Pages was first performed in 1999, everybody avoided me after the performance as if they didn’t know what to say to me. I was confused as I was so sure of the piece. I also really liked the performance. Sixteen years later I decided that it was time to perform it again. After the performance in March 2016 in Birmingham lots of people congratulated me and talked to me about the piece. What happened in those sixteen years?

The piece is a Palindrome and based on the text “Emmaus – Titel ohne Bild” by my friend Sven Lindholm.


Ed Bennett


Irish composer Ed Bennett was born in Bangor, Co.Down and currently lives and works in London. His music, which has been described in the press as ‘anarchic’ (Irish Times), ‘manic’ (Classical Music) and ‘thrilling’ (Gramophone) is often characterized by its strong rhythmic energy, extreme contrasts and the combination of acoustic, electronic and multimedia elements; it was recently described in The Guardian as ‘unclassifiable, raw-nerve music of huge energy and imagination’ and by Sinfini Music as ‘one of the most scintillating voices to emerge of late from the British Isles.’ His body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film.


He performs with and directs his own ensemble, Decibel, which is dedicated to the performance of new and experimental cross-discipline work and with whom he recently released two critically acclaimed CDs of his music. Dzama Stories (Quartz Music) was described as ‘a glorious addition to the contemporary canon…I haven’t heard a disc of Irish Composition as vital and as urgent as this in a long while’ (Musical Criticism, 5/5 stars) and My Broken Machines (NMC) was Chicago Time Out’s No.1 Contemporary CD of 2011.


He has been commissioned and performed the world over by many diverse artists, ensembles and organisations including the BBC, RTE, PRSF, Music Network, Moving On Music, 2012 Olympics, Integra and the arts councils of England, Ireland and N.Ireland. Noted collaborators and performers of his work include the BBC Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, the National Orchestra of Belgium, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Icebreaker, Riga Sinfonietta, Orkest de ereprijs, Fidelio Trio, Berlin Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble SurPlus, Lontano, Concorde, the Smith Quartet, Noszferatu, Ensemble Ars Nova, Garth Knox, Pedro Carneiro, Reinbert de Leeuw, James MacMillan, Darragh Morgan, Mary Dullea, Rolf Hind and Paul Dunmall. Ed has also enjoyed collaborations with several visual artists and choreographers including those with Juneau Projects and the award-winning Belgian choreographer Ann Van den Broek. His work has been featured in festivals such as Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Musica Viva (Portugal), Huddersfield, Spitalfields, Bath, City of London, Homecoming (Moscow), Crash, Sonorities, Sonic Circuits (USA), Bourges, the BMIC Cutting Edge Series, Soundings (London/Vienna), News from the UK (South Bank), Integra and at New Music/New Ireland in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 2008 Ed Bennett was the first composer in residence at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, France.

Recent projects include ‘Out of Nowhere’ a large-scale work for piano and electronics for Xenia Pestova (PRSF Beyond Borders commission), ‘Suspect Device’ for amplified ensemble for Icebreaker (Britten-Pears commission),  an opera in collaboration with the writer Stacey Gregg (commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad), ‘Internal Organs’ for mechanical organ and ensemble for the Dutch ensemble Orkest de Ereprijs (commissioned by the Orgelpark, Amsterdam), ‘Heavy Western’ for violin and ensemble for Barbara Lueneburg and Decibel and ‘Freefalling’ for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (commissioned by RTE).

Ed Bennett is Associate Professor in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire. He is represented by the Irish Contemporary Music Centre and Composers Edition Publishing where further scores and recordings of his music can be obtained. In 2012 Ed Bennett was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for the Performing Arts and in 2014 he was awarded a fellowship by the New York based Civitella Ranieri Foundation.



Ed Bennett: Slow-Motion Music for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, percussion and piano (2016)

Slow-Motion Music reflects a quieter side of my work and is a companion piece to one of my more frequently played and noisy works 'Stop-Motion Music'. The music operates as a very slowly repeating loop and the idea was to create a kind of time-stretched version of simple harmonic and melodic material, as if watching a moving image in slow motion, where the sense of time is magnified and normally unimportant details are brought to the fore.


Joe Cutler


For more than twenty years, Joe Cutler has been a significant figure in the UK contemporary music world as a composer, educator and programmer. During this time, his work has been performed in over 40 countries and on 6 continents including performances at festivals and venues such as Bang-on-a-Can Music Marathon (New York), Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), Opera City (Tokyo), Musik Monat (Basle) and the BBC Proms (London). Commissioners or performers of his work have included the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Scottish Ensemble, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group,  Orkest de Volharding, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Evelyn Glennie, Wigmore Hall (London), Orgelpark (Amsterdam) and the Royal National Theatre (London).

He has worked both in the concert hall and outside, working with visual artists such as Tom Dale, Jaap Drupsteen and Gary Ward and has written music for the National Theatre, London. In 2012, his piece Ping! for string quartet and table tennis players was one of the most visible works of the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad reaching an audience of millions through exposure on CNN and BBC TV.

He has received a number of awards including a special mention at the 1997 Gaudeamus International Music Week, 2nd Prize at the 2000 Toru Takemitsu Award, winner of the 2000 New Millennium Composition Prize, and winner of the 2005 SCO/SwCO Composition Prize. In 2008 he won a British Composer Award in the chamber music category, and on two other occasions he has been a finalist in the vocal composition category (2008, 2012). In June 2008 a portrait CD of his works was released on NMC and was one of Gramophone Magazine’s Top 20 Releases of the Year. A second portrait disc entitled Boogie Nights has recently been released on Birmingham Record Company. Since 2005 he has been Head of Composition at Birmingham Conservatoire, artistically leading one of Europe's leading composition departments.



Joe Cutler: Without Fear of Vertigo for violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and piano (2001)


Without Fear of Vertigo was written for the London Sinfonietta’s 2001 "State of the Nation" event at the London South Bank Centre. The starting point for the piece was Italo Calvino’s novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, which consists of a series of interrupted stories (each story broken off by the next). My own piece uses one of these "stories within a story" (entitled Without fear of wind of vertigo) as the basis, taking a number of images and quotes from it as triggers for musical material. Set in an imaginary Eastern European country, Cimbria, in the midst of a revolution, the themes that recur are violence, social anarchy and treachery. Without Fear of Vertigo was premiered on April 22nd 2001 by the London Sinfonietta/Pierre-André Valade at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London and has been released on NMC’s State of the Nation CD (NMCD 078).

Daniele Rosina

Born in 1979, Daniele Rosina began his musical studies in Bournemouth.  In 1997 he gained a place at Birmingham Conservatoire, studying clarinet with Michael Harris and conducting with Andrew Mogrelia and Edwin Roxburgh. As a student Daniele conducted all the major ensembles, including performances with Symphony Orchestra at the Bromsgrove Festival and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.  Daniele won the Conservatoire’s conducting prize for four consecutive years and accepted a scholarship to study on the postgraduate conducting course for which he was awarded a distinction.  He was recently awarded honorary membership of Birmingham Conservatoire. He is regularly invited to conduct established local ensembles including Queens Park Sinfonia, Sinfonia of Birmingham, Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and Birmingham Bach Choir.


In the theatre he has worked as assistant conductor at San Francisco Ballet, a position he took up again for the company’s visit to the Edinburgh International Festival with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Opera performances include Britten’s Noye’s Fludde and Handel’s Semele for Operamus (Birmingham Youth Opera), and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi by Puccini and Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana for South Wessex Opera.


Daniele is dedicated to performing contemporary music, giving over thirty premières of new works with Birmingham Conservatoire’s Composers’ Ensemble and Thallein Ensemble, alongside performances of established composers such as Takemitsu, Tan Dun, Ivor McGregor, Birtwhistle, Thomas Adès, Boulez and Berio.  He worked on a performance of Three Dawn Rituals with James MacMillan and received a masterclass from Pierre Boulez conducting his Improvisation sur Mallarmé I.


Committed to inspiring young musicians, Daniele has conducted concerts with Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Conservatoire Junior School Symphony Orchestra, Kent County Youth Orchestra and Bournemouth Youth Orchestra as well as conducting and presenting education concerts at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.


Daniele was appointed a conducting tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2005 and at the University of Birmingham in 2006.  He regularly conducts concerts and workshops at both institutions.




Thallein Ensemble


Birmingham Conservatoire’s Thallein Ensemble is dedicated to the performance and promotion of contemporary music. Thallein’s concerts focus on pieces by distinguished living composers and brand new works from the staff and students of the Conservatoire’s thriving Composition Department, alongside other high-profile pieces from the last half-century. The ensemble is highly regarded for its ambitious programming and for putting contemporary music at the heart of the Conservatoire’s performance programme. Recent highlights include a performance of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Panic in the presence of the composer; a concert of music by Michael Finnissy as part of the 2015 BBC Proms, which was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3; and a three-day residency with Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist.