Daniel Kidane's new work 'Be Still' premieres by Manchester Camerata and San Francisco Symphony

19 January 2021

On the 19th January, Daniel Kidane's latest work Be Still received its world premiere with the Manchester Camerata at Stoller Hall, broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

The new commission for strings and crotales was conducted by Pekka Kuusisto, and was heard as part of a programme entitled All Time is Eternally Present. Daniel's new work "creates a sense of inner stillness and calm - something that is much needed right now", and the composer himself writes:

“Written towards the end of 2020, Be Still is a reflective piece on the year gone by. In a year where lockdowns became a thing, the idea of time became more apparent to me as everyday markers, such as meeting with friends and family, travelling or attending concerts vanished.
Whilst writing Be Still, the opening lines of TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton, the first of his Four Quartets, came to mind:
Time present and time past/ Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past./ If all time is eternally present / All time is unredeemable
And as I look back at the year and attempt to fix in my mind events, they slither away from my grasp – like clouds passing by in the sky.”

To watch a video of the performance, click here.

'Be Still' received warm reviews in the press, with Richard Morrison of The Times writing "[Be Still is] one of the best I’ve heard from this British composer...It had shape and substance", while The Arts Desk calls it "quite definitely the music of 2020, reflecting on the experience of lockdown and losing the everyday markers of passing time: but it’s also intended to create inner stillness and calm". Be Still also featured in the San Francisco Symphony's first concert back with new music director Esa-Pekka Salonen in June 2021. The concert marked Be Still's US premiere, and was later reviewed in the Wall Street Journal as "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)".

Previous works by Daniel Kidane that have received their world premieres in lockdown have included The Song Thrush and the Mountain Ash for Huddersfield Choral Society's project 'We'll Sing', in which he set text by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to music in a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a musical 'Postcard from Home' for guitarist Sean Shibe as part of the BBC Radio Scotland's Classics Unwrapped series, and Dappled Light for violinists Maxine Kwok and Julian Gil Rodriguez premiered to a socially distanced audience and online for the London Symphony Orchestra's Summer Shorts series.

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