Martin Suckling is a composer and violinist.
"No man is an island, entire of itself . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." (John Donne, Meditation XVII)
As part of the Armistice Centenary commemorations, I'm working with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to create a new piece, Meditation (after Donne), which takes as its inspiration the massed ringing of bells as Armistice was declared. It's going to be a simple song for orchestra, with performers and audience surrounded by a constantly evolving tapestry of tolling bells created by live electronics.
We want to involve as many members of the public as possible in this piece, so we're extending an open invitation to people from across Scotland and beyond to send in recordings of their local bells to be included in the electronics part. You don't need any fancy equipment – even a recording from your phone would be welcome!
For more information, and to submit your bell recordings, please visit the project's dedicated website, ArmisticeBells.com.
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.
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
Tenri Cultural Institute
Music by Anderson, Barrett, Clyne, Davies, Dillon, Grime, Matthews, Musgrave and Suckling
"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.