Daniel Kidane

Composer

"To Daniel Kidane's quietly impressive new Metamorphosis he brought stature, concentration and a beguiling range of sonorities."

Andrew Clark, Financial Times

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Daniel Kidane‘s music has been performed extensively across the UK and abroad as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 3, described by the Financial Times as ‘quietly impressive’ and by The Times as ‘tautly constructed’ and ’vibrantly imagined’.

Daniel began his musical education at the age of eight when he started playing the violin. He first received composition lessons at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and then went on to study privately in St Petersburg, receiving lessons in composition from Sergey Slonimsky. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the RNCM under the tutelage of Gary Carpenter and David Horne.

Highlights include orchestral works Woke, which was premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor Sakari Oramo at the Last Night of the Proms in September 2019, and Zulu by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra; a new work for the CBSO Youth Orchestra, which is inspired by Grime music; a chamber work for the Cheltenham Festival which draws inspiration from Jungle music and a new type of vernacular; a song cycle commissioned by Leeds Lieder and inspired by the poetry of Ben Okri; and a new piece entitled Dream Song for the baritone Roderick Williams and the Chineke! Orchestra which was played at the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in April 2018.

Recent works premiered during the Covid-19 lockdowns include The Song Thrush and the Mountain Ash for Huddersfield Choral Society with text by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Dappled Light for violinists Maxine Kwok and Julian Gil Rodriguez for the London Symphony Orchestra's Summer Shorts series; Christus factus est for Merton College Choir recorded for Delphian; and Be Still for the Manchester Camerata, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and received further international premieres by the San Francisco Symphony, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. His most recent work Revel, inspired by Manchester Carnival, was commissioned by the BBC Proms for the Kanneh-Mason family, and premiered in August 2021.

Recent commissions for Michala Petri (recorder) and Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord) were released on CD and premiered in the UK at Wigmore Hall. Works for members of the London Symphony Orchestra, which have focused on multiculturalism, and an orchestral work for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, motivated by the eclectic musical nightlife in Manchester, also received critical acclaim.

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Be Still

San Francisco Symphony (June 2021)

Mr. Kidane’s piece, receiving its American premiere, could hardly have been replaced, for as Mr. Salonen explained from the stage, “Be Still” was written in response to the pandemic, its first performance having occurred in January via live stream from Manchester, England. Scored almost completely for strings, the work is meditative but not inert. It tenses and relaxes repeatedly, until a twisted version of its theme asserts itself (a manifestation of our collective anxiety perhaps). A crescendo further destabilizes things. The coda comes as the first violinist enters into something of a duet with a nearby percussionist using a bow against crotales to summon the faintest tintinnabulations, until an abrupt silence brings the nine-minute work to a close. It may sound like a dig to say the music seemed to last longer on this occasion, but the observation is meant as a compliment.

David Mermelstein, Wall Street Journal

Towards Resolution

Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead (May 2021)

Daniel Kidane’s Towards Resolution left me wanting more. In a mere three minutes he re-imagined a Purcell fantasia in clusters of descending notes, essentially static but with glissandos and tremolos disturbing the surface

Bernard Hughes, Arts Desk ****

Be Still (world premiere)

Manchester Camerata at Stoller Hall (February 2021)

One of the best I’ve heard from this British composer: an exercise in atmospheric string tremolando chords, spookily embellished by bowed crotales, in which the harmonies gradually became more intense and dissonant. It had shape and substance.

Richard Morrison, The Times

Daniel Kidane’s Be Still, for string orchestra and bowed crotales, is quite definitely the music of 2020, reflecting (as he says) on the experience of lockdown and losing the everyday markers of passing time: but it’s also intended to create inner stillness and calm. Beginning with high tremolo strings, almost pulse-less, it extends their sound through the orchestra’s compass, as a rhythm begins and chords form fleetingly, building to a crescendo and ending with a lofty solo violin over a sustained sound carpet.

Robert Beale, The Arts Desk

Woke

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London (September 2019)

Daniel Kidane’s Woke raised the curtain with a ceremonial blast. Its rhythmic and textural permutations at times sounded like a 1950s film score, at others suggesting a sinister, quasi-militaristic atmosphere.

Nick Kimberly, Evening Standard

[Woke] launched off in dancing rhythms, the string chords rising and falling in waves under the chirruping winds were not so far from Steve Reich’s minimalism, but the harmonies were darkly suggestive of struggle. Towards the end the music retreated to a lonely place, but revived to end if not in a blaze of glory, at least of hope.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

Woke is a dynamic concert opener, energised by driving percussion rhythms. The large orchestra is skilfully deployed for diverse colours while always retaining a clarity of texture. The music eventually settles into lush, sonorous harmonies.

Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk

Composer Daniel Kidane says he wants to channel his optimism for the future through music, and the result is a brightly coloured tone-poem which the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo’s genial direction that turns into an agreeable aperitif for what is to come.

Michael Church, The Independent

The evening began with a new piece, Woke, by Daniel Kidane, commissioned by the BBC and performed for the very first time. It is a short, vigorous work with a rousing finale but it is not a ‘comfortable’ piece that one can listen to and relax with at the end of a working day. Kidane says himself in the programme notes that behind his urge to create an energetic piece was the wish for a subtle message – for us all to be more ‘woke’, concerning awareness of social and racial justice. He fully achieved his goal and started the Last Night with a bang.

Margarida Mota-Bull, Seen-and-Heard International

But I end at the beginning, with Daniel Kidane’s Woke, the title reminding us to be constantly aware of racism, but the music is inherently interesting in itself, kick-started by a wood-block (like a woodpecker) and teeming into life with long-held strings and chattering parts underneath, eventually coming to a unanimous halt before more rat-a-tat-tat pulses reigniting the music, before eventually building to a ringing climax, though not before the modern plastic equivalent of the ancient bullroarer made air. Electrifying and energising.

Nick Breckenfield, Classial Source

Uplifting and energising, [Woke] was also designed to leave one thinking about social and racial injustice in the world. This it certainly did, although the overriding sense one was left with was simply that of an immensely skilful composition.

Sam Smith, MusicOMH

Zulu

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (November 2017)

Kidane’s sound world is inevitably Western, of course, but I liked the way he refracted it through something “other” so as to give it a different colour, with contrasting sound textures and energy patterns giving it its momentum.

Simon Thompson, bachtrack.com

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