Music Students Perform at the Purbeck Art Weeks Festival

Meridian Brass

A collaboration of bright young stars from the worlds of composition, brass music, singing and dance will be premiering a brand new work especially commissioned for the Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW) Festival in Dorset on 28 May.

Bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate students from Trinity Laban, the work, inspired by Monteverdi's masterpiece 'Ave Maris Stella' from the 1610 Vespers, is set to be a highlight of the Festival.

'Ave Maris Stella' (Hail Star of the Sea) has been written by 21 year old composer, conductor, pianist and Trinity Laban Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Conducting Fellow Duncan Ward, winner of the 2005 BBC Young Composer of the Year.

Relishing the challenge of playing the first piece especially written for them will be Meridian Brass, a young and vibrant quartet of Trinity Laban MMus students.  Last year the group received the 2010 June Emerson Launchpad Prize, and were runners up in the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble Competition.  The piece also features dancers James Pett and Elly Braund performing choreography by Kerry Nicholls, and singers Cheryl Coutinho and Mario Sofroniou.

Duncan, who has been described as 'one of the most engaging, intriguing, and exciting young talents - a real star for the future' (Les Pratt, BBC Radio 3 Producer) describes how he drew his inspiration for the piece from Monteverdi:

'Monteverdi is a fascinating composer, radically ahead of his time in so many ways, and a hugely rich source from which to draw a new work. I have taken on his structure, a series of contrasting verses for varying forces interspersed with ritornelli, and much of the melodic and harmonic material is inspired by the famous plainchant which we hear in canon at the opening. I have also had a lot of fun looking back at the sort of rhythmic syncopations often found in Gabrieli and other composers of the Renaissance period. There are darker passages, moments of jubilation, and plenty of stargazing lyricism.'

Purbeck is the perfect setting for the piece. As an area of outstanding beauty and a World Heritage Site, it is not only surrounded on three sides by water and therefore virtually an island; but also boasts clear skies, unobstructed by city lights,  where millions of stars burst into life on cloudless nights,  a vision that city dwellers rarely see.

Ave Maris Stella will premiere on Saturday 28 May at St Mary's Church, Swanage at 7.30pm with an introductory talk by both Duncan Ward and Kerry Nicholls.