In May 2024 Daniel Bard leads Amsterdam Sinfonietta in the Dutch premiere of Jonny Greenwood’s Water, beginning at Theaters Tilburg on 10 May and then touring to venues across the Netherlands for a further eight performances, as part of their Philip Glass in India programme – full details here.

Water is an 18-minute work for a distinctive instrumental set up, commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra as part of Greenwood’s Sydney residency with them. The piece is inspired by the closing lines of Philip Larkin’s poem of the same name from The Whitsun Weddings: “Where any-angled light / Would congregate endlessly”.

Strings provide a whispering background of ostinato figures and patterns, against which a concertante group of two flutes and violin weave solo lines. This in turn is backed by an amplified upright piano doubling chamber organ or keyboard sampler. One or two tanpuras provide yet another harmonic and melodic underlay, playing semi-improvised patterns that coordinate and diverge from the main ensemble at different points in the piece.

Greenwood himself has played tanpura onstage in several of the 50 or so performances to date. Its many exponents have included the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Arctic Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, Tapiola Sinfonietta, 12 Ensemble, and the MDR Sinfonieorchester. The Australian Chamber Orchestra, who commissioned the work, released its world premiere recording in 2018 through ABC Classics - the first classical vinyl release in Australia for over 20 years. Watch Greenwood and Richard Tognetti discuss Water ahead of its world premiere here

On 18 May James McVinnie and Eliza McCarthy will premiere another Greenwood work inspired by the drone of the tanpura - x years of reverb at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. The eight-hour piece for organ, whose title changes on depending on the age of the performing space it inhabits, will run from two till ten pm at the Octagon Chapel – four hours either side of sunset. It was written, Greenwood says, “to summon all the music, voices and sounds that have ever filled the air and soaked into the walls of a room: to shake or coax them out of the fabric of the building, so they can be heard again - distilled and concentrated into eight hours.”