Judith Weir (1954-)

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Episodes

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01New Directions20150330

01New Directions20150330

Donald Macleod focuses on Weir's appointment as associate composer to the BBC Singers.

01New Directions20150330

Donald Macleod focuses on Weir's appointment as associate composer to the BBC Singers.

01New Directions20150330

01New Directions20150330

This week Donald Macleod talks to Judith Weir about her life and her music. One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 she succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

On January 1st 2015 Judith Weir took up a new position as Associate Composer to the BBC Singers. In the first of this series of five programmes, Donald Macleod discovers where this new choral direction will be leading and how a building's fabric can be captured in musical form.

01New Directions20150330

This week Donald Macleod talks to Judith Weir about her life and her music. One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 she succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

On January 1st 2015 Judith Weir took up a new position as Associate Composer to the BBC Singers. In the first of this series of five programmes, Donald Macleod discovers where this new choral direction will be leading and how a building's fabric can be captured in musical form.

02Writing For The Stage20150331

Judith Weir talks to Donald Macleod about the challenges of writing for the stage.

Judith Weir talks about the challenges of writing for the stage, including "A Night at the Chinese Opera", "Blond Eckbert" and her most recent opera "Miss Fortune".

One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 Judith Weir succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

Today Judith Weir joins Donald Macleod to discuss her fascination with storytelling, in particular for the theatre. After dipping her toe into operatic waters in her mid-twenties, with "King Harald's Saga", a small-scale treatment of an epic story, "A Night at the Chinese Opera" brought Weir to wider public attention in 1987. Since then she has produced a succession of operas, each of them exploring different musical and dramatic ideas.

03Perspectives20150401

03Perspectives20150401

Judith Weir on how elements around her are distilled in the form and language of her music

03Perspectives20150401

Judith Weir on how elements around her are distilled in the form and language of her music

03Perspectives20150401

03Perspectives20150401

Judith Weir describes how the elements around her, from outer space to the roof of the Royal Albert Hall become are distilled in the form and language of her music.

One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 Judith Weir succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

From the vernacular to the literary, Judith Weir takes inspiration from the world around her. Ancient forms, folk tales, the universe and Chinese philosophical literature are recurring sources of inspiration. Today, in conversation with Donald Macleod, Judith Weir traces the roots of their appeal and illustrates the variety in her treatment of these persistent themes.

03Perspectives20150401

Judith Weir describes how the elements around her, from outer space to the roof of the Royal Albert Hall become are distilled in the form and language of her music.

One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 Judith Weir succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

From the vernacular to the literary, Judith Weir takes inspiration from the world around her. Ancient forms, folk tales, the universe and Chinese philosophical literature are recurring sources of inspiration. Today, in conversation with Donald Macleod, Judith Weir traces the roots of their appeal and illustrates the variety in her treatment of these persistent themes.

04Storytelling In Sound20150402

Judith Weir discusses her composing method and her sources for finding text.

Judith Weir's distinctive soundworld uses a variety of narrative devices, ranging from texts through to the colourful palette of instrumental ensembles.

One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 Judith Weir succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

Today, Judith Weir discusses her composing method and her approach to the delicate balance between text and instrumental forces, with excerpts from her song cycle woman.life.song, a modern interpretation of a woman's life and "Missa del Cid", a work for choir with narrator, using her own adaptation of medieval texts. With Donald Macleod.

05The Composer In Society20150403
05The Composer In Society20150403

Judith Weir discusses the role of a composer in society.

Judith Weir discusses the role of a composer in society and her enjoyment of working with performers, students and her new role as Master of the Queen's Music.

One of our most distinguished composers, in July 2014 Judith Weir succeeded Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. It's an honour that joins an already impressive collection of awards, which include a CBE and the Queen's Medal for Music. Born in 1954 into a musical Scottish family, Weir grew up near London. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Weir studied composition with John Tavener during her school holidays. More formal studies followed at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway, and at Tanglewood summer school, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. The possessor of a rich, fertile imagination, Weir draws on a wide variety of sources, notably dark fairytales, folk stories, Chinese philosophy, Indian music and culture, distilling their essence in music of luminous clarity. Her fundamental concern is to tell stories. An articulate communicator, Weir's writing about her music encapsulates the process brilliantly. In this series, Weir offers a personal insight into some of the musical projects which have occupied her since the beginning of the noughties.

In the final chapter of this week's survey, Judith Weir talks to Donald Macleod about her role as Master of the Queen's Music and looks back at the relationships she's forged over the years, with her recording company, performers and arts and academic organisations, plus a look ahead to some of her future projects.

To Judith, from Judith (No 5 of Variations for Judith: 11 Short Reflections on Bist du bei mir (G H Stölzel arr. JS Bach))

Melvyn Tan, piano.