The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain will revive Anna Meredith’s large-scale body percussion piece HandsFree at London’s Southbank Centre as part of the 2022 PRSF New Music Biennial on July 3. The 12-minute piece will be performed in the Foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, followed by a short question and answer session with the composer. The piece will also be the focus of a body percussion workshop in the Clore Ballroom, where it receives a second performance.

The New Music Biennial will also see a performance of Jessica Curry's She Who, a15-minute setting of two texts from American feminist poet Judy Grahn, which was commissioned by and first performed for the festival in 2019. The piece was written at a time where women began questioning the world they were told to accept, reconsidering history and community, and celebrating the power of the female. She Who begins as a fraught conversation between men and women, and blossoms into a celebration of the diverse, beautiful, collective voice. It will be performed by the National Youth Chamber Choir, who also gave a recent performance of the work in Coventry on 24 April. The group recorded the piece on NMC in 2019.

The NYOGB also performed HandsFree on April 24 in Coventry Cathedral as part of the Norwich and Norfolk Festival, celebrating 60 years of the building’s consecration; they commissioned the piece and gave its first performance at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 2012, as well as at the BBC Proms that same year. It has also received performances at the Elbphilharmonie by the NDR Jugendsinfonieorchester and from California-based contemporary dance collective Post:ballet, and featured in a 2014 advert for Prada.

Meredith developed this unique orchestral work with dancer and choreographer David Ogle, whose movements make the piece a visual as well as musical spectacle. For HandsFree the musicians lay down their instruments and clap, stamp, sing and beatbox their way through the piece. Meredith says the piece is about “about virtuosity, playing rhythmically together and working as a team.”

Both performances are free, with details here.