Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Classical music news

Great news for local composer Brian Irvine who has just received a prestigious award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for his music for the youth opera The Tailor's Daughter, commissioned by Welsh National Opera and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Great news for local composer Brian Irvine who has just received a prestigious award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for his music for the youth opera The Tailor's Daughter, commissioned by Welsh National Opera and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The awards are held each year in association with the PRS Foundation and Radio 3 in order to highlight the achievements of UK composers.

The winning work is both exciting and engaging, specifically written for young voices and it incorporates several different influences, characteristic of Brian's varied palette. Other winners on the night included Jonathan Dove, Judith Weir, and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. This is a terrific accomplishment for one of Northern Ireland's most talented composers. Congratulations to Brian!

Award celebrations continue with the announcement of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland/BBC Northern Ireland Young Musician Platform Scheme winners. Ciaran McCabe (violin), Michael McHale (piano), and Catherine Coulter (flute) will each receive £5,000 and take part in two broadcasts as soloists with the Ulster Orchestra. This is an exciting opportunity for each of these young musicians to launch their individual professional careers - watch out for them in the future.

Tomorrow, the Ulster Orchestra returns to the Waterfront Hall with two performances of the timeless children's classic The Snowman. First premiering on Boxing Day back in 1982, it has since become a staple part of family entertainment at Christmas. Walking in the Air was released as a successful single featuring Aled Jones in 1985, and soon become the signature tune of the movie. Its composer Howard Blake was awarded an OBE in 1994 and although he has been a prolific composer he will always be associated with this perennial bestseller.

First performance is at 2:30pm, second at 5pm. Box office 9066 8798.

Christmas would not be complete without the rich harmonies of Handel's Messiah. On December 15 and 16, the Ulster Orchestra and Belfast Philharmonic Choir will be performing this essential classic in the Waterfront Hall at 7:30pm.

The Messiah is an accessible introduction to classical music. It is rare to hear works of this scale performed live in Northern Ireland. Handel wrote the Messiah in three weeks for charities in Dublin. Its first performance packed 700 people into a theatre designed to hold 600. Ladies were asked to wear skirts without hoops and gentlemen were asked to leave their swords at home in order to make more room. It was a huge success and to this day our familiarity with it sometimes obscures the fact that Handel's sense of timing and proportion were matchless and the sheer physical pleasure of the sound is remarkable. Box office 9066 8798.

On December 13, the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra will perform its annual Christmas concert in the Ulster Hall at 7:30pm. If you enjoy singing carols then you're in luck, for audience participation is encouraged. A delightful way of getting the whole family into the festive mood. Entry is free for children. For further information call 9032 3900.

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