Terry Grimley previews a UK premiere and the British Composer Awards.
The German composer Wolfgang Rihm has a major UK premiere in Birmingham on Thursday, when he may well be celebrating an award from the British music industry.
He has been nominated for the new international category in Wednesday's British Composer Awards for his Verwandlung, which was premiered at the 2006 Proms. The other composers on the shortlist are the American Derek Bermel and the Australian Brett Dean.
The Birmingham premiere is I Am A Mistake, a 70-minute music-theatre piece with text and direction by performance artist, choreographer, author and artist Jan Fabre. Scored for narrator, two singers and 14 instrumentalists and combining film images, live music (by Ensemble Recherche conducted by Lucas Vis), words, song and dance scenes, it is described as "a passionate plea against political correctness".
In particular, it champions smoking - and will offer the rare sight of a tobacco haze over the stage of Symphony Hall as the performers puff away throughout the show.
I Am A Mistake is the latest piece to be commissioned by Echo, the European Concert Hall Organisation, and is on a tour of member-venues.
Since its world premiere in Athens last Thursday, it has already been seen in Vienna and Amsterdam, and after the Birmingham performance, it will go on to Luxemburg, Brussels, Cologne and Paris.
Born in 1952, Rihm is an extremely prolific composer whose output includes 12 string quartets and more than 20 song cycles. Though his music is still relatively unfamiliar in Britain its profile is certainly on the rise, perhaps because more of it is being commercially recorded.
CBSO music director Sakari Oramo recently included him in a select list of significant living composers, alongside Magnus Lindberg and Julian Anderson.
The British Composer Awards, promoted by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, take place at Glaziers Hall, London, on Wednesday and are broadcast on Radio 3 the following night (7pm). Altogether 38 composers have been short-listed in no fewer than 13 categories ranging from Liturgical to New Media and including the Radio 3 Listeners' Award, which was won last year by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.
Edwin Roxburgh, who teaches at Birmingham Conservatoire, is shortlisted for his oboe concerto, An Elegy for Ur, in the Brass Band or Wind Band category, where it is up against another piece with West Midlands connections, Gwilym Simcock's Lichfield Suite.
Roxburgh is celebrating his 70th birthday this year, and there is a celebratory concert, consisting of four of his works, with the New Music Players at Birmingham Conservatoire on December 10. Other shortlisted composers include such familiar names as Thomas Adès, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Julian Anderson, Oliver Knussen, Michael Nyman, Harrison Birtwistle and George Benjamin. Sutton Coldfield-born Jonathan Harvey is nominated twice, in the Instrumental Solo or Duo and Orchestral categories.