The first four participants in a new development scheme exclusively for female composers have been announced. Balancing the Score: supporting female composers has been launched by Glyndebourne to help address the under-representation of female composers in classical music.
The four participating composers are:
Through the scheme, the composers will spend two years immersed in life at Glyndebourne, where they will be introduced to commissioning opportunities, attend rehearsals and meet professional opera makers and performers.
Glyndebourne is also collaborating with its resident orchestras, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Southbank Centre, to provide opportunities for Balancing the Score participants.
Along with the chance to immerse themselves in the work of a world-class opera house, the successful candidates will receive an annual bursary of £1,000 to cover expenses and time spent at Glyndebourne during the part-time residency, which has started this month.
Each composer had written a short composition that was performed at one of four performances of La traviata: Behind the Curtain during the 2018 Glyndebourne Tour; a theatrical event exploring the magic of opera live on stage. Here is what they said of the experience:
‘It was great to be a part of the innovative Behind the Curtain event at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. I thought that Glyndebourne and Chris Addison’s holistic approach to making opera accessible was engaging for everyone from primary school children to opera buffs, and it was especially ambitious to incorporate contemporary music into the programme. For this reason I was delighted to have my miniature Last Breaths performed as it demonstrated the wide variety of contexts that contemporary music can be suitable for, including showing how excellent the Glyndebourne tour orchestra (and conductor Ben Glassberg) are at sight-reading!’ — Anna Appleby
‘We were challenged to create orchestral miniatures “inspired by Verdi” – an opportunity to reflect on his extraordinary place in opera’s history and why his operas mean so much to audiences today. It was such a delight to share my piece, Last Acts, with the audience in Milton Keynes. Working with conductor Ben Glassberg and Glyndebourne’s music staff in the lead-up to the performance was fascinating, and the performance was excellent: the orchestra did an amazing job and it was great fun to hear the audience’s enjoyment of the piece.’ — Cecilia Livingston
‘Having my music included as part of Glyndebourne’s Behind the Curtain series was a wonderful opportunity, both to have my music heard by new audiences, and to expose school children to new music. The ‘sightreading’ element added an element of theatricality, and I was delighted by how beautifully Ben and the players performed the piece. Many people after the show stopped me to speak about the piece, and also to say how encouraging it was to see a new generation of female composers emerging, which was great to see their enthusiasm.’ — Ailie Robertson
‘Behind the Curtain was a highly entertaining event, unpacking La traviata for its audience and humanising the opera through comic presentation. It was fantastic to hear my music performed in this lively, playful context.’ — Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade