John Adams (b. 1947, USA)
Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father and began composing at the age of ten. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language, entirely characteristic of his New World surroundings.
John Adams at this year's Festival:
- Robin Green & Mei Yi Foo
- A Day by the Sea with Onyx Brass
- Apollon Musagète Quartet
- BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Elisanda Fábregas (b. 1955, Spain)
Catalan/American composer Elisenda Fábregas studied as a pianist at the Barcelona Conservatoire before moving to the United States. She began composing in 1985 whilst at the Julliard School and worked with a number of New York dance companies. Her music has been praised for its colour, lyricism and expressiveness. Since 2010, Elisanda has lived in Seoul where she is a Professor of Music at Kyung-Hee University Humanitas College.
Elisanda Fábregas at this year's Festival:
Graham Fitkin (b. 1963, England)
Graham’s wide ranging output has included music for dance, film and digital media as well as collaborations with musicians such as Powerplant, Yo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott, Will Gregory, Piano Circus, Ensemble Bash, the Sacconi Quartet and his own ensemble of nine soloists. He lives in Cornwall with his partner, harpist, Ruth Wall.
Graham Fitkin at this year's Festival:
The music of composer and pianist Paul Kerekes has been described as gently poetic and highly eloquent. In 2012 he joined forces with five of New York City’s top pianists to form Grand Band, whose debut was featured on Bang on a Can’s annual marathon. The ensemble was recently described by The New York Times as, “The Travelling Wilbury’s of the city’s new music piano scene.” Paul currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.
Paul Kerekes at this year's Festival:
David Lang (b. 1957, USA)
David Lang is one of the most frequently performed American composers writing today. His music is regularly used for ballet and modern dance and has featured in a number of film scores. David is Professor of Composition at Yale School of Music and is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music collective Bang on a Can.
David Lang at this year's Festival:
Cecilia McDowall (b. 1951, London)
Cecilia McDowall’s rise to prominence has largely come about through her choral works and in 2014 she won the British Composer Award for choral music. Among recent works, her Shipping Forecast attracted considerable attention in the media, drawing on Sean Street’s poetry, psalm 107 (They that go down to the sea in ships) and the words of the shipping forecast itself.
Cecilia McDowall at this year's Festival:
John Metcalf (b. 1946, Wales)
Over the last 40 years, John Metcalf has been at the forefront of Welsh musical life with no fewer than seven operas under his belt and a wide variety of orchestral and chamber works. His music is characterised by melodic warmth and a distinctive lyrical quality - drawing the listener into a sound world that combines a meticulous balance between structure and emotion.
John Metcalf at this year's Festival:
Kate Moore (b. 1979, England)
Kate Moore is an Australian composer, currently based in the Netherlands. Kate specialises in creating surprising performance scenarios that feature musicians set amidst unusual and alternative performance circumstances. She works with both acoustic and electroacoustic media.
Kate Moore at this year's Festival:
Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933, Poland)
Krzysztof Penderecki is one of the leading and most distinguished musicians of his generation. As a young experimental composer in Poland, he garnered attention in 1960 with his Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and subsequently achieved worldwide recognition when his music was featured on the soundtracks of classic horror film classics such as The Shining, The Exorcist and Shutter Island.
Krzysztof Penderecki at this year's Festival:
Steph Power’s career in music began as a guitarist, percussionist and narrator where she performed at international level and specialised in 20th century and contemporary music. Today she works mainly as a composer and writer – her music having been performed by PM Ensemble, Chamber Domaine, the Bridge Duo and pianist Llŷr Williams among others.
Steph Power at this year's Festival:
Guto Puw (b. 1971, Wales)
It was in 1995 that Guto Puw made an impact as a composer when he won the Composer’s Medal at the National Eisteddfod, a title he won again in 1997. In 2007 he won the BBC Radio 3 Listener’s Award for …onyt agoraf y drws, commissioned by the Proms – a work that also saw him picking up BBC Music Magazine’s Best Proms Premieres.
Guto Puw at this year's Festival:
Steve Reich (b. 1936, USA)
Over the last half century, Reich’s music has influenced generations of pop, jazz and classical musicians. His instantly recognisable sound combines propulsive rhythms with seductive instrumental colour. “What my generation did wasn’t a revolution” he says, “it was a restoration of harmony and rhythm in a whole new way … essentials that people wanted, that people craved.” The result – an output that continues to evolve and capture the world’s imagination.
Steve Reich at this year's Festival:
Hilary Tann (b. 1949, Wales)
Welsh-born composer Hilary Tann lives in upstate New York. Her music is characterised by its lyricism and formal balance and is influenced by her love of Wales and a strong identification with the natural world.
Hilary Tann at this year's Festival:
Ben Wallace is a composer, percussionist, and keyboard player hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His music spans a wide range of styles from chamber and orchestral, to disco and samba, and occasionally into the video game remix world. He studied composition and percussion at the University of Cincinnati before going on to Yale School of Music where he studied with David Lang.
Ben Wallace at this year's Festival:
Huw Watkins (b. 1976, Wales)
Regarded as one of Britain’s foremost composers, Huw Watkins was born in South Wales, studied piano at Chetham’s School of Music and then composition at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. His music has been performed throughout Europe and North America and since 2015 he has been Composer in Association with BBC National Orchestral of Wales.
Huw Watkins at this year's Festival:
Judith Weir (b. 1954, England)
Judith Weir began composing as a schoolgirl, studying with John Tavener. She went on to study at Cambridge where her composition teacher was Robin Holloway. Her six operas have been performed in the UK, Europe and the USA. In 2014 she was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music and the following year, Associate Composer to the BBC Singers.
Judith Weir at this year's Festival:
Chen Yi (b. 1953, China)
A prolific composer, Chen Yi blends Chinese and Western traditions having developed a distinctive compositional voice that she compares to “speaking in Chinese, but writing in a Western idiom”. She was the first woman in China to receive a Master’s degree in composition and went on to continue her studies at Columbia University in the USA. She now divides her time between the USA and China.
Chen Yi at this year's Festival: