Composer fulfils teenaged pledge

As musicians in the National Youth Orchestra, Martin Suckling promised Katherine Bryan that he would one day write her a concerto.

Twenty years on, Suckling is Scotland’s rising composer and Bryan is principal flute of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. This weekend, at last, she gets to premiere his concerto, titled The White Road.

Composer Martin Suckling says: ‘I’ve known Katherine since we were teenagers and we’ve long wanted to work together on a flute concerto.  Katherine’s glorious tone and Edmund de Waal’s beautifully austere ceramic art were twin inspirations for this piece, in which solo flute melodies lead the orchestra in antiphonal exchange through a landscape of rich, gleaming microtones and strange dances.’

RSNO Principal Flute Katherine Bryan: ‘Martin and I have been friends for over twenty years. He knows me very well, and it had always been a hope for both of us that he would one day write something for me. The challenge of bringing any piece to life for the first time is huge, but the fact that it is written by him makes it even more exciting for me. The piece is alluring, stirring, tender, ardent… all in a 15 minute package. I cannot wait to capture people’s imaginations with it.’

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  • It is tonal music, often spilling over the limits of tonality, but full of invention and fantasy. The Schoenbergian touch of Pierrot Lunaire (1912) reassures listeners that it is really, truly modern music:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKQUiu_v8cA

    From Wikipedia:

    “Suckling’s music often explores aspects of microtonality, and he has acknowledged his debt in this regard to composers associated with spectral music. Other influences include Scottish folk music – Suckling was a fiddle player in several ceilidh bands in his teens – and literature, especially poetry.”

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