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Composer: Saunders, Rebecca (b. 1967)

Fact file
Year of birth1967
NationalityUnited Kingdom
May 2019
Evening performance
Matinee performance
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AmsterdamBeyond Borders: 3 premières by Musikfabrik

Beyond Borders: 3 premières by Musikfabrik
Germanus, Saunders, Bauckholt, Hirs, Chin
Emilio Pomàrico; Ensemble Musikfabrik; Marco Blaauw

BerlinQuartett Festival - Quatuor Diotima

Szymanowski, Saunders, Schubert
Quatuor Diotima; Yun-Peng Zhao; Constance Ronzatti; Franck Chevalier

StockholmBerg, Saunders, Schubert

Berg, Saunders, Schubert
Quatuor Diotima

LondonExplore Ensemble: In Dreams and Shadows

© Cathy Pyle
Saariaho, Bailie, Saunders
Explore Ensemble


Xenakis, Saunders, Schroeder
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Proms at... Wilton’s: Conference of the Birds

Marcus Farnsworth performs Eight Songs for a Mad King © BBC | Mark Allan
The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group present an ambitious mixture of experimental chamber music and disquieting monodrama. 
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Rebecca Saunders' Stasis: a symphony in space

Rebecca Saunders at rehearsals of Stasis © Torsten Flüh
For Rebecca Saunders, space is just another tool in her compositional armoury. Ensemblekollektiv performed a new tailor-made version of Stasis for the Akademie der Künste.
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Visceral power in Saunders' still

Carolin Widmann © Marco Borggreve
Although a British composer by birth, Rebecca Saunders is most respected in Germany, where she has spent much of her working life. Her latest project was an immersive choreographed programme with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie based around her violin concerto still
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The Arditti Quartet play new music at the Wigmore Hall

As a non-composer, I always find it a little disconcerting when composers completely disagree with me about new music. And when I talk to two composers separately, and they offer matching opinions opposed to my own – as happened last night at the Wigmore Hall – I definitely end up feeling slightly wrong-footed.
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Of Rihm: A 60th birthday gift from the London Sinfonietta

It’s quite rare nowadays to rock up to a concert having absolutely no prior knowledge of the music you’re about to hear. Ticket prices, an abundance of established concert repertoire, and an understandable reflex to ‘play it safe’ all contribute to our penchant for the known in the concert hall.
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Born in London in 1967, Rebecca Saunders studied violin and composition at Edinburgh University, before putting her instrument to one side when she won a scholarship to Karlsruhe Music College, Germany, where she studied with Wolfgang Rihm. She returned to Edinburgh between 1994 and 1997 to pursue a PhD in composition with Nigel Osborne and currently lives in Berlin.

Saunders’ compositions feature sometimes unusual combinations of orchestral instruments with ones such as accordion, electric guitar and whistle. They range in size from pieces for soloists and duos to large-scale works, such as Chroma (2003, revised 2010) which at its hcmf// 2010 performance will feature 20 different ‘modules’ made up of solo or grouped musicians, as well as gramophones and music boxes. Her 2003 work insideout accompanied Sasha Waltz’s dance installation, whilst traces featured at the BBC Proms in 2009.

Saunders’ work has been recognised with many honours and awards, including membership of the Berlin Academy of Arts, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival’s Paul Hindemith prize and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award for chamber music in 2008. She has lectured at the Darmstadt summer school and was chosen as Capel-Compositeur (composer in residence) for Staatskapelle Dresden 2009–10. Her work is published by Peters Edition.