Premiere at the BBC Proms 2020

Posted: 15th September 2020

Composer Hannah Kendall.

The BBC Proms, the annual festival of classical music, is enjoyed every year by millions.  In 2020, the festival ran from 17th July until the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday 12th September.  This year, owing to the pandemic, it was unfortunately not possible to hold live concerts from the beginning of the festival and music was broadcast on radio, television and online.

However, on 28th August the series of live proms at the Royal Albert Hall commenced, albeit without audiences, and composer, and past pupil, Hannah Kendall’s new work ‘Tuxedo:  Vasco ‘de’ Gama’ opened the series.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Sakari Oramo, performed the world premiere of this work which had been especially commissioned from Ms Kendall for the occasion, the third time Ms Kendall’s music has been performed at the BBC Proms. 

Hannah Kendall’s website says, ‘Especially commissioned for the occasion, the work takes its inspiration from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic 1982-1983 artwork ‘Tuxedo’, a collection of sixteen intricately-crafted diagrammatic block pieces. It references Vasco da Gama (written as ‘Vasco de Gama’), the first European to voyage to Asia by sea, offering a commentary on exploration, and the seeds of globalisation and multiculturalism; two important themes regarding the year 2020.’

Ms Kendall attended St Augustine’s Priory before studying at the University of Exeter from where she graduated with First Class Honours in Music, having studied composition with Joe Duddell. She also completed a Masters in Advanced Composition with Distinction from the Royal College of Music studying with Kenneth Hesketh and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Royal College of Music Study Award and the RVW Trust. Hannah is currently based in New York City as a Doctoral Fellow in composition at Columbia University.

It has also recently been announced that Ms Kendall will be London Oriana Choir’s final five15 Composer-in-Residence. The residency will begin in July 2021 and Ms Kendall will write three pieces, the final of which will be performed as part of a festival concert.

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