Rebecca Saunders Essentials

Rebecca Saunders Essentials

A nail brush, wire wool, and ceramic tile join a traditional lineup of percussion instruments in Rebecca Saunders' 2017 work Dust, while her 2020 piano concerto to an utterance requires a glove-wearing soloist to play abrasive cluster chords. This experimental tonal palette creates distinctive and often otherworldly scores, where sound is prized for its sculptural rather than melodic properties. Born in London in 1967, Saunders studied composition with Nigel Osborne at the University of Edinburgh and Wolfgang Rihm at Germany's University of Music Karlsruhe. Based in Berlin, Saunders is recognized as a leading light in contemporary music. In 2019, she was the first female composer to receive the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, following the likes of Stockhausen, Birtwistle, and Britten, who was the first recipient back in 1974. Spatiality—the use of location and movement of sound sources—is an important aspect of Saunders' style, with works such as 2017's Yes written with the acoustics of both the Berlin Philharmonie concert hall and the St. Eustache Cathedral in Paris in mind. Her work has strong links with dance, and pieces including the 2011 violin concerto Still and double bass concerto Fury II (2009) have been choreographed.

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