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The BAE integrates new music into its concert repertoire as part of an exploration of great music from all ages. Whenever possible, we bring the composer to talk to the audience about their work. This has met with great success among our audiences. The composer’s talks give the audiences a framework in which to listen to and appreciate the music. We continue to collaborate with composers and to commission and perform new works.

April, 2018 

Songs Without Words for Cello and Piano (2018) by Scott Wheeler, commissioned by Jonathan Miller

Cello Sonata #2: Songs Without Words, as its title suggests, invites the cello to sing. I was inspired to think of the cello in this way because of the many gradations of singing tone that are the hallmark of cellist Jonathan Miller. Most of the work was done at Yaddo in upstate New York, where my studio was in the woods by a stream. This setting also influenced the kind of singing I imagined for the cello. The first movement is entitled “Among the Trees.” It begins “like a hymn” but quickly moves into a sort of recitative. The piano sometimes provides the hymnal accompaniment and sometimes a more sparkling background. The second movement, “Forest at Night,” begins with misterioso pizzicato and soon becomes passionate. The third movement, “Barcarolle,” is the most expansive part of the sonata, and perhaps the most songful. — Scott Wheeler

September, 2016
Three Chorales (2016) by Judith Weir, commissioned by Jonathan Miller

Judith Weir (b 1954) has been a Visiting Professor at Princeton (2001) Harvard (2004) and Cardiff (2006-13) and in 2014 was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music. In 2015 she became Associate Composer to the BBC Singers. These three pieces for cello and piano are meditations – personal, secular and musical – on images from religious poetry.

The title of No. 1 Angels bending near the earth comes from a carol which begins ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ by the Massachusetts pastor and poet, Edmund Sears. The full reference is to “angels bending near the earth/to touch their harps of gold” and this is the inspiration for the music, with piano arpeggios swooping down over the rich central band of sound produced by the cello.

No. 2’s title, In death’s dark vale is a brief paraphrase (from a Scottish hymnal) of Psalm 23; the full quotation is “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”. The image here is of human life lived against the prospect of impending death. The cello plays a hasty, self-absorbed continuo, whilst around it, piano motifs and chords of different height and depth create an evolving backdrop.

No. 3, O sapientia is the only movement which quotes a musical original; Hildegard of Bingen’s hymn O virtus sapientiae –“O strength of wisdom”. This is a calm, elegaic set of variations for the cello on Hildegard’s melody, accompanied by mostly bright, optimistic refl ections from the piano.

April, 2015
Trio (2014) by Matthew Aucoin, commissioned for the Gramercy Trio by Jonathan Miller

April, 2009
C.P.E. Bach, Sonatina for Glass Harmonica and Strings
Thomas Bloch, glass harmonica; Jason Horowitz, Elita Kang, violins; Edward Gazouleas, viola; Jonathan Miller, cello;

January, 2007
Sonia Possetti, Suite Buenos Aires
Sharan Leventhal, violin; Jonathan Miller, cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano

March 2006
Nicholas Underhill, Piano Trio
Sharan Leventhal, violin; Jonathan Miller, cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano

April, 2005
Fred Hersch, Lyric Piece
Sharan Leventhal, violin; Jonathan Miller, cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano

April, 2001
Robert Livingston Aldridge,  Trio
Sharan Leventhal, violin; Jonathan Miller, cello; Horia Mihail, piano

February, 2000
Joan Huang, Remembering South River Land
Sharan Leventhal, violin; Jonathan Miller, cello; Lois Shapiro, piano