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Arnolfini - est 1961
image by Clive Barda

Music Made in Lockdown

Using the unpredictable events of COVID-19 as a stimulus for creativity, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group commissioned a series of new music pieces from composers around the globe during lockdown.

Composers were asked to create pieces for solo artists and were connected with musicians over digital platforms to rehearse, refine, and record their music. Soliloquies and Dialogues shows the importance of connectivity and creativity during the most devastating of times, and that whilst we were all unified by lockdown, our reactions were still highly individual.

On the path out of a live performance drought we are delighted to be sharing these new pieces with you during two world premiere performances at Arnolfini on 11 June and CBSO Centre in Birmingham on 15 June –

Experience contemporary music for a new creative era, and BCMG’s new partnership with Arnolfini. This will be a poignant celebration of new things to come, and a reflection of the journey we have all taken together, yet on our own.

Composers and Musicians:

Celeste Oram (b. 1990) counting steps* (May 2020, 5’)
for solo trumpet with video projection
Tristan Murail (b.1946) Les Ruines circulaires (2006, 7’)
for clarinet and violin
Ma Xiao-Qing (b.1996) Back to the Beginning* (April 2020, 7’)
for reciting solo violin
José Del Avellanal Carreño (b. 1998) speak, sing…*  (October 2020, 8’)
for clarinet and electronics
Donghoon Shin (b. 1983)     Couplet* (April 2020, 3’30”)
for solo violin
Emily Howard (b. 1979)        New commission, world premiere* (May 2021, 6’)
for solo percussion
Steve Reich (b. 1936)       New York Counterpoint (1985, 11’)
for clarinet and tape
Sir Harrison Birtwistle (b.1934)     The Message (2008, 3’)
for clarinet, trumpet and military drum
Celeste Oram      Counting Steps* (May 2020, 5’)
for solo trumpet and a young trumpeter with video projection

Performed by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group Musicians:

Oliver Janes Clarinet
Ryan Linham   Trumpet
Julian Warburton    Percussion
Colette Overdijk Violin

*BCMG Soliloquies and Dialogues commissions receiving their live world premieres, kindly supported by Sound Investors and donors to the BCMG at Home campaign

speak, sing… is supported by PRiSM, The RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music, funded by the Research England fund Expanding Excellence in England (E3).

Open Soliloquies & Dialogues programme here


Listen to a selection of the pieces recorded during lockdown by clicking on the image below:

Arnolfini galleries will be open until late, ahead of the performance, to give audiences an opportunity to visit our exhibitions:

Jo Spence: From Fairy Tales to Phototherapy | Photographs from The Hyman Collection 

A Picture of Health | Women Photographers from The Hyman Collection

A Picture of Health | Look at This Skin…It Keeps Changing

Defiant I Stand for A Cause That’s My Own That Sometimes I Don’t Understand by ron

Exquisite Corpse

Grey Areas | Jessie Edwards Thomas


This event marks the start of a new collaboration between Arnolfini and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. We are thrilled to be working together to bring some of the best, innovative new music to Bristol. We look forward to welcoming them back in the autumn and in spring 2022 – dates to follow!