Higgins gains Proms acclaim

The composer Gavin Higgins has gained widespread critical acclaim for his latest work premiered at the 2020 Proms — and hints at a future major collaboration with brass band and orchestra in his new role at the National Orchestra of Wales.

  Gavin Higgins has been appointed Composer in Association with the National Orchestra of Wales

The world premiere of composer Gavin Higgins' latest orchestral work, 'Rough Voices' has been met with critical acclaim following its recent 2020 Proms performance by the National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Ryan Bancroft at the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.

Third Proms

It also marked the first collaboration between the Forest of Dean born composer and the orchestra since his appointment as Composer in Association, and the third time his work has been heard at the Proms following 'Der Aufstand' (2012) and 'Velocity' (2014).

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

It also specifically responded to the request by the BBC commissioners to reflect on the effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic — something which the composer said, "…disproportionately affected those from working class communities and those living in poverty".

Four star reviews

Both The Guardian and Daily Telegraph praised it in their overall four star reviews — with Tim Ashley in The Guardian calling it "…a howl of protest at how the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poorest in society", whilst Ivan Hewitt in The Telegraph said that it "generated a sense of intense struggle… One could feel the protest underneath, still unappeased."

The influential on-line artsdesk.com called it "a fine premiere"that "its sheer quality had definitely earned that prominent exposure", the result "that his craft and passion"had combined to produce "a very persuasive piece".


Speaking to 4BR following premiere, the composer who has a proud brass banding connection said that he was delighted by the response to the piece.

"It's been a real privilege to be appointed Composer in Association with such a wonderful orchestra. I'm really looking forward to working with them in the next few years — it's certainly going to be exciting.

The response to the work from Ryan and the players has been wonderful, especially given the context in which it was written and it's been good to hear that it has gained such a positive response from around the world."

My history of working with brass bands, and the Tredegar Town Band, will be the inspiration for one work I hope to write: a piece for brass band and orchestraGavin Higgins

Future brass band collaboration

Gavin also revealed in an interview with the Orchestra that he hopes that one major project will be inspired by his long term connection with Welsh champion Tredegar.

After being asked about his link to musicians and communities in Wales he said: "My history of working with brass bands, and the Tredegar Town Band, will be the inspiration for one work I hope to write: a piece for brass band and orchestra.

I hope that through this piece I will not only be able to create a piece of art that stands up on its own merit, but also a piece that will engage local communities, the brass band world both here in the UK and abroad, and bring a new audience to the orchestra."


You can enjoy the Proms performance at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000mpcz/bbc-proms-2020-proms-at-bbc-hoddinott-hall-cardiff

You can hear Gavin speak about his work at: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=441170043509976

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