A composer from the age of 4, and a professional viola player, Beamish’s contribution to international musical life has been extraordinary. Working routinely with the world’s greatest musicians, her large body of work encompasses both the epic and the intimate – from great orchestral landscapes, or evening-length music drama, to poetic miniatures for solo instruments. Her music is celebrated for its direct expressiveness, lyrical beauty and emotional power. Beamish makes connections between disparate voices, working regularly with the most eminent musicians in jazz and folk music, and creating sincere and moving work for young and amateur musicians. While living in Scotland, her base for nearly 30 years, she collaborated in innovative projects with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Alasdair Nicolson.
Highlighting the esteem in which she is held by the world’s leading virtuoso soloists, Beamish has composed a notable body of concertante work for soloists with orchestra. She has written more than 20 concertos for outstanding soloists, including three each for piano and viola. Her most recent concerto, Distans, is written for violinist Janine Jansen and clarinettist Martin Fröst. It is a co-commission from The Concertgebouworkest, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, and will be premiered in Amsterdam in April 2021.
Sally Beamish said: “In these bleak times for music and the arts, I am delighted to receive this honour. It means a great deal to me that creativity, and the role of the creator in society, have been recognised as important to all of us, and vital to the wellbeing of a healthy society. I would also like to acknowledge the support and inspiration I have received along the way, in particular from my family: my brothers, my children, and their father Robert Irvine, and my husband Peter Thomson. I would also like to mention my mother, who, by example and encouragement, gave me the confidence never to doubt that a girl could be a composer. Further thanks are due to my son Tom Irvine, himself a composer, who gives me practical support on a daily basis; and also to Dr Gerry Mattock, who has commissioned work from me for over 20 years, and of course all the superb musicians with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. Last but not least, I’m extremely grateful to The Scottish Music Centre,
BIS Records and my publishers: Norsk Musikforlag and Edition Peters.”
Katie Tearle MBE, Director of New Music at Edition Peters, commented: “This honour for composer Sally Beamish is so well deserved. Sally’s compositions are loved by audiences and performers – she makes connections between places and people with music of such sensitivity and imagination on all scales from full-length ballets to solo works. We are proud to represent and publish her work.”
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