• https://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/composingthehistorical/historical-texts-in-music-of-today/

Historical texts in music of today

Through interviews with a number of composers doing significant work in the field, this project asks: how are elements of the historical voiced in contemporary composition?

We interviewed nine composers to ask them why and how some of their work engages with pre-existing texts.

Does this work imply nuanced affinities with historical methods and practices that enrich musical language today with perspectives and ‘voices’ from other times? Does this work speak to tensions between modernist and post-modernist perspectives in composition? And how does transformation work in their music, tracing studies in compositional models into novel and original expression offering new musical experiences for today’s audiences?

The interviews, with Evelyn Ficarra, Roxanna Panufnik, Shirley Thompson OBE, Judith Weir CBE, Rowland Sutherland, Kerry Andrew, Martin Butler, Tom Armstrong and Ed Hughes, each produce different and individual responses. Each is concerned with the tension between a historical model and the experience of writing through it. Ultimately the past is seen as a place that may be replete with music of deep feeling, but that this is not reproducible. Instead, one ‘opens’ the text in order to compose through it, which in turn drives one back to the present.