Julian Anderson - Anniversary Commissions

Julian Anderson - Anniversary Commissions
Julian Anderson was the recipient of an LPO commission to write a short Fanfare to welcome HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s arrival at the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society convocation at the Royal Festival Hall on 23 June - one of this year’s many events recognising the remarkable contributions that the Royal Society has made towards the progress of science. 

Anderson’s father Professor ES Anderson was a Royal Society Fellow and an eminent microbiologist, making this a particularly relevant commission for the composer. Anderson aptly titled the 3-minute Fanfare Transferable Resistance, and describes the work here:

‘Instead of a purely conventional fanfare, I have tried to convey something of the profound excitement and adventure of scientific discovery, as well as the high moral standards of the Royal Society’s Fellowship.  The work is underpinned by a slow, majestic sequence of chords which swing antiphonally between the four brass groups before blending smoothly amongst them.  Faster celebratory fanfares from the six trumpets eventually burst out above these chords, and these fanfares gradually spread to all instruments.  The conclusive final chord of the piece suddenly fades and instead of ending assertively, my piece disappears inconclusively on the trumpets: the elusive search for scientific truth goes on.’

During the event,  HRH Prince William was admitted to the Royal Society in the company of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.   

Next up – a commission for Westminster Abbey’s  450th anniversary celebrations of its Collegiate Charter (granted by Elizabeth in 1560). Bell Mass was first performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey in a liturgical performance at a Sung Eucharist on the Abbey’s patronal feast day, St Peter the Apostle on 29 June, and then again at a concert performance at the Abbey on 2 July by the Westminster Abbey choir conducted by Jamesl O’Donnell.
Julian Anderson in conversation with James O’Donnell
JO: This is your first commission for Westminster Abbey. How does it feel to be following in the footsteps of Purcell, Blow, Handel, and the many other illustrious composers who all wrote music for the Abbey?
JA: I am delighted to have been commissioned by the Dean & Chapter to compose for this special anniversary. I used to worship in the Abbey when I was a pupil at Westminster School. Indeed, one of my main memories is of the loud Abbey bells ringing during classes.
JO: What was the particular inspiration for this work?
JA: I was inspired by the space and height of the building and have tried to capture these aspects in the sound of the piece, and also in the sections when individual singers chant at different speeds lending a kaleidoscopic effect. I was also inspired by the Abbey bells, which suggested to me fresh forms of melody and a new kind of melodic writing – a new simplicity and stillness.