Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Freya's Gift Strikes a New Chord; A World Premiere Is Scheduled for This Week's Northern Chords Festival. DAVID WHETSTONE Finds out More

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Freya's Gift Strikes a New Chord; A World Premiere Is Scheduled for This Week's Northern Chords Festival. DAVID WHETSTONE Finds out More

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

BRILLIANT young talent is the bedrock of the annual Northern Chords Festival and there's no better example than Freya Waley-Cohen.

The young composer will see two of her pieces performed during this week's chamber music festival, including a world premiere at the weekend's gala concert.

The festival opens with tonight's concert at St Mary's Church, Whickham, featuring works by Brahms, Britten, Vaughan-Williams... and Waley-Cohen.

The latter's short piece for violin and cello is called A Pyrrhic Smile.

The word 'pyrrhic' most commonly precedes the word 'victory', as in a hollow victory, but Freya says it also describes a dance rhythm.

"I wrote it a couple of years ago and it was first played last June by Jonathan Bloxham and my sister, Tamsin, at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

"It's a piece in five short movements but I actually wrote the fifth movement first. The rest of it followed on from that."

Jonathan Bloxham, who comes from Whickham, Gateshead, founded Northern Chords to provide a platform for the young musicians he studies with in London and also to reward music-lovers in his native North East.

Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Freya's older sister, is an accomplished violinist whose performances have been much admired.

Freya, who was looking forward to her first visit to the North East, says the five movements evoke a range of moods from exciting and upbeat through slow and mysterious to ominous and finally quiet and sad.

Her world premiere for Northern Chords, called Dark Hour, is for piano quintet and clarinet. It was inspired by a line in one of the poems which had inspired Mahler to write his Ruckert-Lieder, which Freya was asked to arrange for the tenor Ben Johnson to perform.

You can hear both pieces at the gala concert at Sage Gateshead on Friday. …

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