Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Time Flies at the BBC Proms
On 15 August the BBC Proms presents the UK premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s recent orchestral score, Time Flies, a triptych celebrating the cities of London, Hamburg and Tokyo.
Mark Anthony Turnage’s recent orchestral score Time Flies receives its UK premiere from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo on 15 August at the BBC Proms in London. The 25-minute orchestral triptych, commissioned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, BBC Radio 3 and NDR, was completed in 2019 but its title took on an unexpected ironic topicality as its planned performances in Tokyo, Hamburg and London suffered a sequence of postponements in 2020 and 2021, amidst global travel restrictions due to international COVID lockdowns.
The original world premiere in Tokyo was to be linked to the 2020 Olympiad, performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Kazushi Ono. Similarly planned performances by the NDR Elbphilharmonie and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms had to be postponed. The world premiere finally took place in Hamburg in September 2021 with conductor Alan Gilbert, the London performance was rescheduled for this year’s BBC Proms, and after a second postponement the Tokyo performance is planned for a future season.
Cast in three movements, the work flies between the cities of the commissioners, taking time out in London, Hamburg and Tokyo. Scored for large orchestra with a prominent part for soprano saxophone, one of Turnage's favourite instruments, Time Flies opens in the UK capital, throwing a syncopated theme around the orchestral sections. The central Hamburg movement is broader and more chordal with the orchestra working as a whole, while the final Tokyo movement is an energetic celebration of an Olympic city with jazz band scoring predominating.
> Turnage at the BBC Proms
> View the score of Time Flies
Turnage’s new song cycle for mezzo Sarah Connolly, Songs of Sleep and Regret, receives its first London performance at the Wigmore Hall on 28 September. This follows its premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival in June and a Scottish performance in the Music at Paxton series, both featuring Sarah Connolly and pianist Joseph Middleton. The 18-minute work sets texts by Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Hardy, T.S. Eliot and Stevie Smith.
> Read an interview with the composer about his recent song cycles
Other recent works by Turnage include the orchestral score Up for Grabs, combining his twin loves of football and music: this is available for performance with film footage of the celebrated league title-clinching Arsenal victory over Liverpool in 1989. Go For It is an upbeat seven-minute orchestral concert opener, premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra last year. Testament, dating from 2017, sets Ukrainian poetry for soprano and orchestra, reflecting on themes of oppression and exile and powerfully capturing voices from the imperial, Soviet and modern eras.
> Further information on Work: Time Flies
Photo: Philip Gatward