Martin Suckling is a composer and violinist.
Memory is the subject of this year’s BBC Radio 3 / Wellcome Collection mini festival, “Why Music?”. I recall as a young violinist that music seemed to embed itself in my fingers so that I never needed to learn to memorise, and never worried that I might forget in performance. Fast-forward a couple of decades (ok maybe a few decades) and I’m looping the first four bars of one of Kurtág’s Signs Games and Messages, desperately trying to alight on the correct continuation in the second phrase and wondering how many times I can get away with the repetition before anyone notices.
Since the start of the year, I have been working alongside the poet Frances Leviston to create a new piece combining words and music responding to the fascinating ideas coming out of the Horizon2020-funded PETMEM project. The first fruits of this will be performed on 15th October at the Wellcome Collection as part of their Why Music? festival, and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The piece features harmonics and microtones and glissandi, partly because I like those things, and partly because they offer interesting ways to respond to some of the concepts at play in the PETMEM project. Memories and material under pressure and changing states of conductivity. Schubert is loitering in the background (and sometimes in the foreground).
Last week I was in Glasgow and had a lovely conversation about my new flute concerto with Katherine Bryan and journalist Kate Molleson. You can read the interview by clicking here.
I'm delighted that Candlebird has been chosen as part of the PRS Foundation's Resonate programme – a partnership with the Association of British Orchestras and BBC Radio 3, which champions outstanding pieces of British orchestral music from the past 25 years and aims to inspire more performances, recordings and broadcasts of these works. This scheme will support a number of performances of Candlebird by my good friends the Aurora Orchestra in their 2017-18 season.
Memento – Poet in the City and Aurora Orchestra
Stuart Parkin speaker
Frances Leviston poet
Martin Suckling composer
Principal Players of Aurora Orchestra
King's Place, London
Music by Schubert and Suckling; new poetry by Frances Leviston
"Sparks and Flickers"
Mark Stone (baritone), Nicholas Collon (conductor)
Music by Suckling, Mozart, Beethoven
dedicated audio page coming soon
Martin Suckling was born in Glasgow in 1981. After spending his teenage years performing in the National Youth Orchestra and in ceilidh bands around Scotland, Suckling studied music at Clare College Cambridge and King’s College London. He was Paul Mellon Fellow at Yale University from 2003-5, undertook doctoral research at the Royal Academy of Music, and subsequently became a Stipendiary Lecturer in Music at Somerville College, Oxford. His teachers include George Benjamin, Robin Holloway, Paul Patterson, Martin Bresnick, Ezra Laderman, and Simon Bainbridge. He has benefited from residencies at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldeburgh, Aspen, and IRCAM, and has won numerous awards including the 2008 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and, most recently, a highly sought-after Philip Leverhulme Prize. He lives in Manchester and is currently Senior Lecturer in the Music Department at the University of York.
Candlebird, his settings of poems by Don Paterson for baritone and eighteen players, was premiered to critical acclaim by the London Sinfonietta in 2011. Suckling has been commissioned by many leading orchestras and ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Britten Sinfonia and Hebrides Ensemble. Notable champions of his works include Ilan Volkov, François-Xavier Roth, Robin Ticciati and Pierre-André Valade. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2008 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize.
Recent works include a series of ‘musical postcards’ for the Scottish Ensemble, Release for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Nocturne - a duet for violin and cello - commissioned by Aldeburgh Music. Six Speechless Songs, Suckling’s first work as composer in association with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, was premiered in February 2014 with the press praising its ‘glistening textures' and ‘Ravellian intimacy.’ Songs from a Bright September for bass and piano trio followed later that year and 2015 saw a clarinet trio Visiones (after Goya) unveiled at the Aldeburgh Festival. Current projects include a Piano Concerto for Tom Poster and the SCO.