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Lawrence Power to premiere Hillborg concerto

Lawrence Power will give the world premiere of Anders Hillborg’s Viola Concerto on 21 October with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Manze.

The work is a co-commission between Frankfurt Radio, Swedish Radio, Basel Sinfonieorchester, Aspen Music Festival and Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, supported by Power’s Viola Commissioning Circle (VCC).

Power says: ‘Anders Hillborg’s music is unique, which is why I wanted to feature him. He loves the collaborative side of commissioning – the back and forth of it – so I was quite involved during the writing process. He accepted my idea that you can present the viola in a heroic way, rather than the usual narrative of it being an elegiac instrument, so his concerto shows the instrument in a variety of roles. I like the idea of orchestrating viola music in a combative way, where the instrument has to fight back against the orchestration. The first movement, in particular, is a tour de force that uses a Berio-inspired tremolando gesture, which is a brave thing to do – it should be fun to try to make that work. The work is energetic and rhythmic and I’m looking forward to performing it.’

Power founded the VCC in 2018 to facilitate and underwrite new works for the instrument. These have so far included a Viola Concerto by Gerald Barry and Three Berceuses for Viola and Piano by Thomas Adès. The VCC also supported Power’s Lockdown Commissions project, during which he commissioned ten new works for solo viola and filmed them in empty venues around the UK, for which he was awarded the RPS Instrumentalist Award in 2020.

Through the VCC, Power aims to commission ten concertos in ten years, of which the Hillborg is the second. He explains: ‘What is so lovely about the VCC is that it is able to underwrite a good proportion of a concerto before it’s even been commissioned. This gets the initial conversations going so that the composer can start writing immediately, rather than having to wait for all the commissioning parties to be in place, which saves a lot of time.’