A British lament for a Kurdish female fighter is premiered in Germany

A British lament for a Kurdish female fighter is premiered in Germany


norman lebrecht

May 28, 2018

This is the world premiere in Cologne of Andrew Webb-Mitchell’s violin concerto in memory of the female freedom fighter Arin Mirkan, who died in 2014 fighting against Islamic State.

Andrew is an English composer who lives in China, training choirs in Zhuhai and Nanjing.

The soloist Elizabeth Basoff-Darskaja is Russian, based in Singapore.

Musiciens sans frontières.



  • What is it about the Webbs and Mitchell’s mutual attraction that makes that brings this

  • John Borstlap says:

    A terrible piece: naive, uncooked, simplistic, sentimental – I could not stand listening to it more than till halfway the ‘slow movement’. Although the idea of reviving a traditional idiom can only be applauded, this piece clearly shows how difficult it is to reach the level of sophistication comparable with the examples (Russian music, Saint-Saens, Bruch). Does the idea that this concerto is ‘about’ a female freedom fighter redeem it from its flaws? I don’t think so. The composer calls himself ‘the English composer’ – no other English compsoers around? Or meant for the Chinese market where audiences are not much informed about ‘English music’? It is all very odd.


    The composer would do well by listening carefully to some examples of re-interpretation of traditional idioms which are more ambitious in terms of sophistication and personal interpretation:




    • Joanna Boulter says:

      I’d be interested to know what it was you hoped and failed to hear in this concerto. I for one did not find it lacking in sophistication, and am anyway not convinced that sophistication is necessarily a musical advantage. If you mean that the style of the work is not fashionable, perhaps it might be worth asking how far it was intended to be so, and how far such a supposed lack could invalidate the work. Webb-Mitchell has an individual voice, and it would not occur to me to want to compare him with the Russians, or Bruch, or Saint-Saens – oh please! I might rather think of Richard Strauss or Hindemith, though, whose music shows bone and muscle as well as orchestral skill and imagination. I have not mentioned feeling, as that is such a personal thing, and clearly we would never agree there. – Joanna Boulter