Rebecca Saunders is one of the leading and most original compositional voices of her generation. Born in London in 1967, she studied composition at Edinburgh University with Nigel Osborne and with Wolfgang Rihm in Germany, where she now resides. Since chroma in 2003, she has intensely persued an interest in the sculptural properties of organised sound and the chroma series continued to grow until 2013, exploring numerous versions of an expanding collage of chamber groups and sound sources in radically different achitectural spaces. Her most expansive spatial work to date, Stasis, dedicated to musikFabrik, comprises 23 ‘modules‘ for 16 soloists, treating each soloist like a protagonist in a form of abstract instrumental theatre.
From 2013 to 2016, Saunders wrote a series of solos for performers with whom she has collaborated closely over many years, including Marco Blaauw, Nicolas Hodges, Teodoro Anzellotti and Séverine Ballon. As if developing upon this process, she simultaneously pursued her keen interest in works for soloist in a concerto role by writing the double percussion concerto Void (2014) for Christian Dierstein and Dirk Rotbrust with the WDRSO, conducted by Peter Rundell, and the RPS Award shortlisted trumpet concerto Alba (2014) for Marco Blaauw, the BRSO and Peter Eötvös. These orchestral concertos marked the close of a triptich of works which also includes the violin concerto Still (2011). An expanded and choreographed new version of Still is to be premiered in the summer of 2016 in a collaborative project with the Young German Philharmonie (JDP), choreographed by Sasha Waltz.
Saunders´ music has been performed and premiered by many prestigious ensembles, soloists and orchestras including Ensemble musikFabrik, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Resonanz, Ensemble Recherche, the Neue Vocalsolisten, Ensemble Remix, SWRSO, and the BBCSO, amongst others. Her compositions have been recognised with numerous prestigious awards, including an Ernst von Siemens Foundation Award, the ARD und BMW musicaviva Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize, Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Awards for Chamber Music and for Solo, and the GEMA Music Prize for Instrumental Music. Most recently, Saunders received the Hans und Gertrud Zender Foundation Prize and the prestigious Mauricio Kagel Music Preis in 2015.
Saunders is in great demand as a composition tutor and has taught at the Darmstadt Summer Courses since 2010 and regularly at the the Impuls Academy in Graz since 2011. She has further taught at the Academy of Music Cologne and is Professor for Composition at the Academy for Music Theatre and Media Hannover. In 2009 she became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, and was honoured with membership of the Sachsen Academy of Arts in Dresden in 2013.
A series of vocal works are planned for 2016-2019 including an expansive theatrical and a spatial installation composition for 2017, and a dance and music theatre work for 2019. Saunders‘ music has been published by Edition Peters since 1997.
L. fem. of albus “white,” from PIE root *albho- “white”, albe OE.
In painting the most extreme bright and light achromatic colour to the point of absolute luminosity. Devoid of shade and greyness, white is notably ardent, the colour of fury.
Alba is the final work in a series of three concertos – Still, Void and Alba. Each title defines a condition, or state, of absence in relation to sound, to space and to colour, respectively, and each refers to a text of Samuel Beckett.
Taken from the collection Echo’s Bones, Alba is an intensely lyrical poem. Beckett weighs each and every word and it’s shadow, it’s echo. This poem ends looking forward to the short and intense prose texts written at the end of his life – his profoundly reduced, almost skeletal, prose, both mercilessly direct and yet exquisitely fragile.
Commissioned by Bayerischer Rundfunk, Musica Viva and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Alba received its UK premiere on 26 November 2015, performed by Marco Blaauw (trumpet) and BBCSSO, conducted by Ilan Volkov at City Halls, Glasgow.