To celebrate the 60th birthday year of George Benjamin, the composer was featured as BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week from 7–11 December. The show, hosted by the Donald MacLeod, uses each of its five hour-long segments to dive deep into the musician’s life and artistic workings, linked with recordings of Benjamin’s most significant works.
Since Composer of the Week covered the Beethoven 250th birthday year on alternating weeks, it seemed rather fitting that the very first instalment on 7 December opened with Benjamin citing Beethoven as a major influence early in his musical development. The programmes continued by exploring the impression that Messiaen’s classes left on the composer, his relationship between conducting and composing, as well as how his operatic collaborations with Martin Crimp came into being. MacLeod’s focussed interviews offered insight into the music and life of the composer and formed an enlightening bookend to 2020, which started with a celebration at Radio France’s Présences Festival in February.
December also saw a new production of Written on Skin premiered online by Oper Köln, directed by Benjamin Lazar, with François-Xavier Roth conducting the Gürzenich Orchester, and a cast including Robin Adams (Protector), Magali Simard-Galdès (Agnès), and Cameron Shahbazi (Angel 1/The Boy). Five further broadcasts were repeated and a studio recording of the production was also made in December.
Listen to BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week here.