Meet the Finalists – Alastair

Alastair Penman (sax)We caught up with Alastair, one of the fab four finalists for the 2020 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition.

What is your main occupation at the moment?
I split my time between performing, composing and teaching. Alongside my role as Visiting Professor of Saxophone and Electronics at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I perform as a soloist and in chamber ensembles including the Borealis and Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartets. As a composer, I write both contemporary works and educational music, with many of my compositions being published by Saxtet Publications.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Having already begun to establish myself as a performer and composer, I want to continue to develop a varied and wide-ranging career. Whilst I have much experience of performing solo and chamber recitals, and I have performed numerous concerti with Wind Orchestras, I have only had the chance to perform in front of Symphony Orchestras on a handful of occasions; this is something I would love to do more of in the future. I will also continue to focus on my work with live electronics and will be releasing my second album in late 2020.

What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?
I didn’t begin playing the saxophone until I was about 14. However, whilst at primary school I had started learning piano and later clarinet, on the suggestion of my older sister, who played the flute (and now plays professionally). When I moved up to secondary school, I admired the sax players in school big band; it was this that prompted me to take up the saxophone!

What made you choose the concerto that you will be playing?
Tableaux de Provence is a much loved piece among saxophonists, and is regularly performed in the composer’s own arrangement for saxophone and piano. It is much less often heard with the original orchestral accompaniment, which I feel is a real shame because the orchestration is so colourful and really adds another dimension to the piece. Since I first heard it, I have thought that Tableaux de Provence is a beautifully written piece that sits particularly well on the instrument; I actually performed the piece in both the final recital of my Master’s degree and the final of the RNCM Gold Medal Competition, but have never had the chance to perform it with orchestra!
What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?
I would revel in the opportunity to perform Tableaux de Provence with a top quality orchestra, and to work with an established and innovative conductor. Performing with ERSO and Chris Stark would give me vital concerto experience, which I hope would lead to further concerto performances in the future.

Meet the Finalists – Hugo

hugo

We caught up with Hugo Mak, one of our fab four finalists for 2020 ERSO Soloist of the Year

What is your main occupation at the moment?

I am currently a postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music, studying bassoon with professor Robin O’Neill. I am also on trial with the BBC Philharmonic as sub-principal bassoon.

What are your ambitions for the future?

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Mark Twain.

As a passionate musician, I hope to perform in a professional orchestra full-time.

What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?

I played the violin before switching to the bassoon when I was 15. There was a lack of bassoons in the school’s orchestra so I picked up the school’s rusty instrument and started finding my way around the complicated keywork. I have never regretted the change as I find the bassoon much more rewarding to play!

What made you choose the concerto that your will be playing?

For the bassoon there is not a lot of romantic repertoire, let alone concertos. This recently-discovered concerto attributed to Rossini is a lovely piece that I think deserves to be played more often.

What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?

Being a bassoonist we are usually hiding at the back of the orchestra, having the chance to perform as a soloist would be a wonderful opportunity!

 

It’s Alex!

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Alexander Papp

After an amazing afternoon on Sunday’s Final Workshop for the ERSO Emerging Composers’ competiton, we had a really tough choice to make in selecting a winner.  Our fab five finalists were selected from a really impressive set of candidates and the workshop showed why these five earned their places in the final.  Each composer had a totally unique approach to creating a Birthday Fanfare for Ernest Read –  but the thing that united them was talent!

After much deliberation, we are delighted to announce that talented young composition student Alexander Papp is our winner.

The TRULY fabulous five!

all finalists
Finalists Alex Papp, Sarah Cattley, Caitlin Harrison, Andreas Swerdlow and Jared Destro with Emma-Ruth Richards and conductor Chris Stark

What an afternoon we had at today’s Final Workshop for the ERSO Emerging Composers’ competiton.  Our fab five finalists were selected from a really impressive set of candidates and today showed why they earned their places in the final.  Each composer had a totally unique approach to creating a Birthday Fanfare for Ernest Read –  but the thing that united them was talent!

We were delighted to be joined by acclaimed composer Emma-Ruth Richards, who helped us to select the finalists, and whose feedback will be invaluable to the young composers.

Watch this space for news on our winner – a tough choice for ERSO to pick a winner from such an excpetional group!

ERSO’s Fab Five -meet Andreas

We caught up with Andreas Swerdlow, one of our “fab five” composers who are finalists in the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”.
We’re so excited to work on his excellent fanfare in our workshop final on March 15th.  It’s great to be the first orchestra to play one of Amdreas’s pieces!
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Andreas Swerdlow

“My musical journey started like many others, grinding bow hairs against the strings of an unfortunate violin. It was through this instrument, and being a part of various orchestras and ensembles, that I developed a love for music and the ambition to create my own.

At this moment, I am studying for a degree in mathematics, and composition is my primary excuse for missing lectures. I wish to continue balancing these competing interests in the future, by developing as a composer and having my music performed more frequently. The workshop on the 15th of March will be the first time that an orchestra has played one of my pieces, and I hope it is not the last.”

ERSO’s fab five – meet Alexander!

We caught up with Alexander Papp, one of our “fab five” composers who are finalists in the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”.
We’re so excited to work on his excellent fanfare in our workshop final on March 15th.
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Alexander Papp

19 year-old composer  Alexander  Papp  holds  a  scholarship  at  the  Royal  Academy   of  Music  studying  composition  with  Gary  Carpenter.   Alex  previously  studied  at  the  Purcell  School,  is  a  Composer  alumni  of  the  National   Youth  Orchestra  and  in  2016/17  was  an  Associate  Composer  with  the  Britten   Sinfonia  Academy.     In  2016  he  was  a  prizewinner  in  the  RPS  Duet  Young  Composer  Prize  and  in  2017  he   won  the  RSNO  ‘Notes  from  Scotland’  Young  Composer  Prize.

Alex told us about his inspiration:
“It  was  only  four  years  ago  that  I  became  convinced  I  wanted  to  become  a  composer   and  I  am  fortunate  enough  to  be  able  to  pin  point  the  exact  moment  I  knew  this.  I   was  at  Junior  Guildhall  playing  the  second  violin  in  Dvorak’s  7th  Symphony  and  the   second  movement  made  me  feel  a  way  I  had  never  felt  before.  I  became  in  love  with   the  music,  obsessed  to  the  point  that  I  can  literally  tell  a  story  about  what  I  think  the   music  is  saying.  The  fact  that  a  composer  made  me  feel  this  way  inspires  me  to  do   the  same,  and  I  aim  to  create  a  form  of  storytelling  is  within  my  music.”

ERSO’s fab five – meet Sarah

We caught up with Sarah Cattley, one of our “fab five” composers who are finalists in the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”.
We’re so excited to work on her excellent fanfare in our workshop final on March 15th.
Sarah Cattley photo
Sarah Cattley

“I read music at Newnham College, Cambridge, where my composition
supervisors included Joseph Phibbs and Cheryl Frances-Hoad. Since I
graduated in 2016, my music has been performed in Ireland, France and Sweden, as well as across the UK in venues such as Saffron Hall, Buckfast Abbey and Ely Cathedral. In 2017-18 I was Caritas Chamber Choir’s Composer of the Year, and last year I had two pieces performed on BBC Radio 3.

I’ve written a lot of choral music and chamber music, but this fanfare for
ERSO is my first piece for orchestra, so I know the workshop will be a
fantastic learning opportunity – I’m excited to discover what in my piece
works well and what doesn’t! I’m keen to write more orchestral music in the future and I’m sure it will be informed by the experience of hearing my piece workshopped by ERSO.”

ERSO’s fab five – meet Caitlin

We caught up with Caitlin Harrison, one of our “fab five” composers who are finalists in the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”.
We’re so excited to work on Caitlin’s excellent fanfare in our workshop final on March 15th.
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Caitlin Harrison

Caitlin Harrison began her studies in composition at Birmingham Junior Conservatoire before completing her undergraduate degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with Stephen Montague and Deirdre Gribbin. She participated in an Erasmus exchange to the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź, Poland, where she studied with Zygmunt Krauze.

Caitlin is an ambitious composer who enjoys new and innovative projects. Her work includes blindfolding performers, filming in an old Jewish ghetto and recording dancers in a swimming pool. Her violin concerto for chamber orchestra was premiered by Ben Richardson and conducted by Jonathan Mann in June 2018 along with her art film ‘Noise’. Recent commissions include works for St Wulfram’s Church Choir (Grantham), Exeter College Chapel Choir (Oxford) and Ensemble ISIS. Caitlin is currently studying for an MPhil in composition at the University of Oxford under Robert Saxton.

ERSO’s fab five – meet Jared

We caught up with Jared Destro, the first our our “fab five” composers who are finalists in the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”.
We’re so excited to work on Jared’s excellent fanfare in our workshop final on March 15th.
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Jared Destro

“Not being from a musical family, my initiation into music was in many ways random and unexpected. I began my musical career when I was thirteen, starting first as a piano improviser, then as a composer. Now twenty-one, I continue to develop these skills as a Master’s student of composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

While very different from my home of Buffalo, NY (USA), I have fully immersed myself in a wide variety of projects in my first year of postgraduate studies. Perhaps one of my personally most-anticipated projects includes a performance of my orchestral work Harvest Festival, Op. 32a scheduled for the June 24th, 2020 at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff by the RWCMD Symphony Orchestra under conductor David Jones.

My goal is to continue to write for as many occasions as I can possibly find, and to be a composer-in-residence for an organization is my ultimate aim. Additionally, I hope to one day help others in their compositional pursuits, offering my teachings and advice as a tutor/lecturer.”