PRS Foundation announce New Music Biennial Festival commissions

New Music Biennial 2022 will celebrate its ten-year anniversary with previous New Music Biennial works performed at the festival alongside brand-new commissions

Jamie MacMillan
  • By Jamie MacMillan
  • 26 Jan 2022
  • min read

PRS Foundation and the Southbank Centre have announced the twenty new pieces of music that will comprise the upcoming free festival New Music Biennial 2022.

Presented in partnership with Coventry UK City of Culture, BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings with support from Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Paul Hamlyn Foundation, it will comprise ten brand new works selected from an open call and ten pre-existing New Music Biennial works from across the last 10 years to mark its launch back in 2012.

Across two festival weekends, brand new pieces from Anna Meredith, Yazz Ahmed, Rakhi Singh, Vessel & NYX Electronic Drone Choir, Jessica Curry and Gazelle Twin will be performed. With pieces from a variety of genres, the organisers hope that it will become an interactive way for audiences to discover new music by some of the most exciting composers and music creators in the UK today.

The full list of artists include: Yazz Ahmed, Paul Purgas, AFRODEUTSCHE, Martin Green, Rakhi Singh /  Vessel, Keeley Forsyth, Coby Sey, Roopa Panesar, Dr Toby Young, Philip Herbert, Anna Meredith, Brian Irvine and Jennifer Walshe, Daniel Elms, Errollyn Wallen, Philip Venables and David Hoyle Aidan O'Rourke and Kit Downes, Jason Yarde, Jessica Curry, Arlene Sierra and Gazelle Twin.

The festival weekends is free but ticketed, and will take place across Coventry in various venues as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations and London’s Southbank Centre on:

  • Friday 22 – Sunday 24 April, Coventry (Free tickets released on 25 January 2022)
  • Friday 1 – Sunday 3 July, Southbank Centre (Free tickets released on 23 April 2022)

In addition to the performances the New Music Biennial will be broadcast across BBC Radio 3 and pieces will be available through NMC Recordings following the festivals. The Southbank Centre will also be hosting a range of free-to-attend public events which will be announced closer to the summer.

2022 will mark the tenth anniversary of the New Music Biennial since its launch as New Music 20x12 as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  Since 2012 the initiative has seen critically acclaimed pieces by composers and music creators including Anna Meredith, Mica Levi, Hannah Peel, Errollyn Wallen, GoGo Penguin, Jessica Curry, Shingai Shoniwa, David Okumu, Mark Simpson, and Eliza Carthy with many pieces receiving award nominations.

Elizabeth Sills, grants & programmes manager, PRS Foundation, said: 'We’re delighted to be announcing the composers, music creators and commissioning organisations to be taking part in this year’s New Music Biennial festival which will take place in Coventry as well as its spiritual home of the Southbank Centre.  The incredible music that has been given a platform at this festival over the last decade has been fantastic and the line-up for our 10th Anniversary celebration will showcase some of those pieces alongside ten brand new pieces of excellent music. We’re very much looking forward for festival weekends to start and for audiences to join this celebration and experience as many of the pieces as possible.'

Gillian Moore CBE, director of music and performing arts, Southbank Centre, said: 'It's a privilege to have been involved in the New Music Biennial since its beginnings in 2012, seeking out and celebrating the most inventive, surprising and brilliant musical creativity from all corners of the UK. The Biennial has become a joyful feature of the Southbank Centre's Summer, making it buzz with people and sounds as the free weekend festival connects the banks of the Thames to new musical ideas being created by artists from the Hebrides to Cornwall, from Belfast to Rural Wales, from Hull to South London. It's a special joy to team up this year with Coventry UK City of Culture as well as our regular partners the PRS Foundation, BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings, making sure that as many people as possible get to hear what these musicians have to tell us.'

Chenine Bhathena, creative director, Coventry City of Culture Trust, added: 'Coventry is a music city, a longstanding pioneer of new music, so vital to our city's identity. The New Music Biennial will allow us to showcase local and regional talent - Armonico Consort and Capsule - throw a spotlight onto female talent helping deliver our commitment to PRS Foundation's Keychange Pledge, as well as show off some of the handful of newly opened music venues in the city. With Coventry Music Board we are keen to see more high-profile music festival collaborations in years to come, to help inspire a strong pipeline of emerging talent, reinforcing our status as a hotbed of music innovation. Covering many musical and cultural genres I know that this festival will offer great experiences for all of many communities and visitors.'

Alan Davey, controller, BBC Radio 3, said: 'For ten years the New Music Biennial has provided a platform for the commissioning and performance of new music and I am proud of Radio 3’s continuing support for this brilliant scheme. It’s so important we support composers and performers pushing the boundaries of music and help bring their work to audiences hungry to experience sound that expands the limits of perception and possibility, making the unthought of real. This year’s selection is exciting and vital - what new music should be all about.  I look forward to Radio 3 bringing these wide-ranging pieces to a wide audience.'

Eleanor Wilson, Creative Director, NMC Recordings said: 'We are thrilled once again to be part of New Music Biennial and provide a lasting legacy for PRS Foundation’s innovative series. The NMC catalogue is all the richer thanks to the 60+ inspiring new works that span the last 10 years of the series. They cover a range of genres and musical styles and are available worldwide to download and stream.  We very much look forward to working with the composers and music creators of this year’s new commissions.'