Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original new work and special events and attracts some of the world’s top talent. Founded 10 years ago to promote the city as a global cultural hub, this year festival is taking place from 29th June – 16th July 2017 at venues across the city. Amongst the impressive line up will be Hong Kong born, London-based composer Raymond Yiu, and fresh from representing Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale, the brilliant young artist Samson Young
To mark 100 years since the birth of Harpurhey’s most famous son, Anthony Burgess, MIF2017 will be presenting a special concert celebrating his words and music. Best known as the writer of A Clockwork Orange, Burgess was also a prolific composer, writing more than 250 works in a variety of styles.
Raymond Yiu has taken text from six Burgess poems and set them to music for The World Was Once All Miracle, a major symphonic song cycle given its world premiere by baritone Roderick Williams and the BBC Philharmonic. The six poems are chosen to highlight the three topics that fascinated Burgess most: language, music and the conflict between good and evil.
Echoing Anthony Burgess’ view that he wished people would think of him as a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side. Raymond Yiu said “My first contact with Anthony Burgess was through a copy of his musical autobiography ‘This Man and Music’ that I picked up more than two decades ago. I have always had an image of him as a composer who wrote books. His music, especially the magnificent Symphony in C, has become a fascination of mine. ‘The World Was Once All Miracle’ provides me the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to an artist whose cross-disciplinary talent is too all-embracing and dazzling to be appreciated fully in a single art form.”
John McGrath, Artistic Director, Manchester International Fesitval, said “This concert will pay tribute to one of Manchester’s most famous sons in the most appropriate way – with Burgess’s own words, set to sparkling new music from Raymond Yiu and brought to life by one of the UK’s finest orchestras, the BBC Philharmonic.”
As well as a composer, Raymond Yiu is a jazz pianist, conductor and writer on music. Following the first performance of The World Was Once All Miracle, 2017 also sees the world premiere of his flute concerto Butorflēoge with Ben Pateman and Tallis Chamber Orchestra in March, and the Asian premiere of The London Citizen Exceedingly Injured with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, under the baton of Lawrence Foster in April.
Also in the line up is artist Samson Young who will be premiering a major new work at MIF17. Inspired by mythic tales of 17th-century Chinese travellers making their way to Europe on foot, this multilayered piece asks: how are journeys remembered and retold? What of the aching feet that carry the bodies, the bumpy ride, the incidental mountains? How do stories lend meanings to places left behind?
One of Two Stories, or Both (Field Bagatelles) will begin with an MIF first: a five-part radio series, performed by a cast of actors, artists and musicians. Broadcast live from Low Four in Old Granada Studios, this tapestry of sound, oral histories, songs and poetry can be heard throughout Manchester on FM and online: on radios, laptops and phones. A small number of tickets will be available for audiences to observe the live broadcast of each episode.
Following the radio series, a multichannel sound and visual installation will premiere at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art. The installation will bring another intriguing perspective to these stories, while also marking the 20th anniversary of the UK’s handover of Hong Kong to China.
Click here for further details on all events at Manchester International Festival.