Higgins writes new work for 2020 Proms

Composer Gavin Higgins has been commissioned for a third time to write a new work for the iconic Proms season.

Gavin Higgins
  It will be the third time Gavin Higgins has been asked to write for the Proms season

Composer Gavin Higgins has been commissioned to write a brand new work for the 2020 Proms season.

It will be the third time that the award winning composer has written for the world famous series of concerts, and will see him being only one of a select group commissioned to write a major work for this, the Proms 125th year.

Rough Voices

'Rough Voices', follows 'Der Aufstand' (2012) and 'Velocity' (2014) and will form part of an 'American Proms' concert performed by the National Orchestra of Wales under the baton of Ryan Bancroft to be broadcast from the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff on Tuesday 8th September.

His 8 minute work will form part of a programme that will include works by Bohuslav Martinu, John Adams, Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland.

'Rough Voices' is loosely inspired by the poem 'Tough' written by the critically acclaimed Manchester poet Tony Walsh (aka Longfella).

It also specifically responds by the request by the BBC commissioners to reflect on the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic.


Speaking exclusively to 4BR, Gavin Higgins said: "It is always a great honour to be commissioned to write for the Proms and the opportunity it brings. It is thrilling to know that a worldwide audience is able to hear such a wide variety of music performed by the world's greatest artists and ensembles.

This year I was asked to write something that linked to the pandemic, and Tony Walsh's poem gave me a very powerful starting point. I thought a great deal about how working class people and especially those who live in and on the margins of poverty have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19."

He added: "I also wanted to reflect on the problems of diversity in classical music and how the cultural landscape is so much poorer not hearing from and embracing these voices.

The piece is therefore something of a clarion call of battle cry to those 'Rough Voices' that are never, or so rarely, heard."

I also wanted to reflect on the problems of diversity in classical music and how the cultural landscape is so much poorer not hearing from and embracing these voicesGavin Higgins


With that in mind Gavin revealed that the work opens with a metaphorical scream.

"It's a musical scream of anguish, despair and frustration — one that demands to be heard, especially at this time from communities hardest hit by a worldwide catastrophe."

The former tenor horn player retains a close musical association with Welsh champion Tredegar who were part of the world premiere of the ground-breaking production 'Dark Arteries' performed by the Rambert Ballet in 2015.

Brass works

He has also written a number of acclaimed major works for the brass band medium, including, 'Trample, Destroy, As Swiftly She' and 'Prophecies' both premiered at the European Brass Band Championships, as well as 'Fanfare & Love Songs', 'Ivory Ghosts' and 'A Forest Symphony'.

His Trombone Concerto, 'The Book of Miracles' won the Orchestral Category award at the 2019 Ivors Composer Awards.


'Rough Voices' will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and live-streamed to BBC I Player from Cardiff on Tuesday 8th September (7.30pm).

The 2020 Proms season will be broadcast in a variety of different ways due to the Covid-19 restrictions, including archive performances as well as live performances from selected venues across the UK.

To find out more go to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/proms

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