On Tuesday 4th December 2018, Sir Harrison Birtwistle was awarded the 2018 BASCA award for best orchestral composition for ‘Deep Time’.
The work, which was jointly commissioned by the Staatskapelle Berlin and BBC Proms, received its world premiere in February 2017 at the Philharmonie Berlin, and UK premiere at the 2017 BBC Proms performed on both occasions by the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
"Birtwistle was inspired to compose this magnificent avant-garde orchestral geology by the Scottish geologist James Hutton, by the idea that "we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end" in the rocks of this earth, only a state of constant alteration… Musical layers of rock grate against each other, interrupted by violent percussion outbursts and shrill wind sounds – magma and scree, hurled musically into the air…" - Der Tagesspiegel
"...an immensely powerful, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful work…one of Birtwistle’s finest orchestral achievements." - The Guardian
"The work was inspired by the vast slowness of geological time, and the way this slowness is occasionally riven by sudden catastrophes and slippages. The piece itself revealed a more human scale, with a melancholy cor anglais solo arousing memories of Birtwistle’s earlier processionals, and moments of pulsating energy in marimbas and plucked cellos. It was grandly impressive…" - Daily Telegraph
"Birtwistle’s fingerprints are all over this new work – the fascination with layers of time, the growling echoes of the distant past, the rhythmic tread of the passing years, each as distinctive as ever…" - Financial Times
The occasion marks the eighth BASCA for Sir Harrison Birtwistle, making him the most celebrated composer in the awards’ 14-year history, most recently in 2015 for ‘Responses: Sweet disorder and the carefully careless’.
A full interview with Sir Harrison Birtwistle about ‘Deep Time’ can be read at the Boosey & Hawkes website here.
The ceremony will be broadcast on a programme dedicated to the Awards on Sunday 9th December at 21:20. A link to listen can be found here.