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Press release

  • 10 January 2005
  • London Sinfonietta premiere for Sussex composer


    A challenging new work by award-winning University of Sussex composer Sam Hayden will be premiered by the London Sinfonietta on 27 January at Jerwood Hall, LSO St. Luke's, Old Street, in London.


    The ensemble piece, Relative Autonomy, was specially commissioned by the London Sinfonietta. The concert, billed as 'Young Brits', also features works by other contemporary composers and will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio Three's Hear and Now on March 19 at 11pm.


    Hayden, who completed a DPhil at the University of Sussex before joining the staff as a lecturer, describes this as his "first big London performance". He says his music is better known in Continental Europe, where there is a culture that is arguably more sympathetic to radical contemporary music.  "There's a fear here that programming difficult music might scare off audiences. I don't think you should patronise audiences. You should just present the music that you want to write."


    Relative Autonomy, written for 15 acoustic instruments, is a musical metaphor for the conflict between individualism and the collective. The title refers to the theory of state power (based on Marxist ideas) that asserts that while a link exists between capitalism and the state, these structures also have a degree of independence.


    The opening of the piece is dominated by an extended duet for contrabassoon and contrabass clarinet. This is later combined with a layer of high instruments, in particular piccolo, piccolo trumpet, violin and crotales. Hayden says:  "It is the dialectic between these two layers that drives the energy of the piece. All the instruments are constantly involved in the tension between their individual and collective roles."


    He adds:  "I am interested in the connection between music and politics, which is very much the tradition of the music department at Sussex. What attracted me to studying here was looking at how music relates to society and the function it serves."


    Hayden, 36, has received several prizes and awards, including the Britten International Competition in 1995 for his large orchestra piece, mv, which was recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and broadcast in 2003. The 27 January concert, to be conducted by Nicholas Kok, also features works by Phillip Neil Martin, Ben Foskett, William Attwood and Emily Hall.


    Relative Autonomy will be performed again by the London Sinfonietta on 5 March at the Berlin Philharmonie, as part of the MaerzMusik festival in Berlin. It is programmed with a piece by Jonathan Harvey, Honorary Professor of Music at Sussex and one of Hayden's former composition teachers.



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