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Discover Harrison Birtwistle's soundworld

Following Birtwistle's the UK premiere of Moth Requiem at the BBC Proms, a look at how the composer creates his signature sounds.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

12 August 2013 at 3.30pm | Comment on this article

Award-winning composer Harrison Birtwistle's The Moth Requiem had its UK premiere today (12 August) at the BBC Proms.

The work, scored for women's voices, alto flute and three harps is described as 'a dream-like incantation of the names of the dustier cousins of the sun-loving butterfly'. The text of Birtwistle's piece is a poem by Robin Blaser, who previously worked with the composer on his opera The Last Supper. Blaser was inspired by the eerie nighttime sounds of a moth caught under the lid of a piano in his home; the insect touching the strings in its efforts to escape. The Moth Requiem was performed alongside works by Gustav Holst.

Listen to Moth Requiem via BBC iPlayer

In the 2012/13 Season, Birtwistle's acclaimed opera The Minotaur returned to Covent Garden, with John Tomlinson returning to the title role. Read our Opera Essentials guide to The Minotaur.

Listen to Birtwistle speaking  at an ROH Insights session about why he chooses to score for a diverse range of instrumentation, and the concepts behind The Minotaur:

Watch The Minotaur's Sitzprobe rehearsal, including a closer look at the workings of the orchestra which boasts an 'armada of percussion':

Let us know what you think of Birtwistle’s work, and whether you are captivated (or not) by his unique soundworld.

The Minotaur is available on DVD from the ROH Shop.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

12 August 2013 at 3.30pm

This article has been categorised Music and tagged BBC Proms, by Stephen Langridge, Harrison Birtwistle, Moth Requiem, Production, The Minotaur

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