New Music 20x12 – Commissions Announced

Celebrating the talent of Northern Ireland's musical community as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad        

PRS for Music Foundation announced twenty outstanding pieces of new music which will feature centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad as London hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The twenty works commissioned for New Music 20x12 include a Northern Ireland commission by local composer Conor Mitchell and NI Opera. Each piece of music will last for 12 minutes and offer a snapshot of the quality and diversity of new music in the UK. The performances will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and tour the UK – ensuring as many people as possible have the opportunity to enjoy excellent new music as part of the 2012 celebrations.

The works selected for New Music 20x12 cover a wide range of genres, reflecting the diversity and richness of musical life in the UK - from contemporary classical, folk and opera in Scotland and Northern Ireland to bell ringing, beatboxing, jazz and music for brass band in England and Wales.

Inspired by the dynamism of Olympic and Paralympic sports, the passion of human endeavour so central to the Games, and the once in a lifetime opportunity of creating a musical work which contributes to a global celebration, these commissions are full of the energy, hope and excitement that will emanate from across the Cultural Olympiad and the Games themselves.

The successful commission chosen from Northern Ireland will see composer Conor Mitchell working with NI Opera to produce Our Day – a new opera set against a backdrop of events in Northern Ireland in 1972, one of the bloodiest of the Troubles. It was also the year that local girl Mary Peters won a gold medal at the Munich Olympics, an event that briefly unified the country. In 2012 it will be 40 years since that win, and Conor and NI Opera want to remember that sense of national pride Northern Ireland had in 1972.

Oliver Mears, NI Opera, said: ‘NI Opera is delighted to be working with one of Northern Irelands most exciting young composers, Conor Mitchell, on a gripping short opera set against the backdrop of the most violent period of the Troubles - but also Mary Peters inconic, life-affirming Olympic win of 1972. With internationally renowned playwright Mark Ravenhill writing the libretto, this twelve minute thriller should be one of the most intriguing cultural offerings of the UK's Olympic year.’

The New Music 20x12 commissions were chosen by a judging panel consisting of composer Judith Weir, journalist Kevin Le Gendre, composer and performer Errollyn Wallen MBE, producer Joana Seguro and DJ and musician Rita Ray. The panel was chaired by Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of the BBC Proms, who said:

‘The panel was impressed by the quality and range of the UK wide applications and reluctantly rejected a number of distinctive project proposals. However, 20x12 means just that and only 20 ideas could be approved for funding. Those selected were considered to be outstanding and represented a range of compositional output by their wide variety of genres and styles. These pieces will form a vibrant and exciting celebration of British composition in 2012 and help to reflect the Olympic and Paralympic values through their creative excellence and inspirational ideas.’

Cian Smyth, London 2012 Creative Programmer for Northern Ireland, based at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland added: ‘The Cultural Olympiad in Northern Ireland has been a huge success so far with over 130,000 people participating in community-based projects since 2008. We are now working towards the final events of this four year programme of work, the UKs largest ever festival of art and culture.

‘The New Music 20x12 commissions promise to be an exciting and innovative part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and it is fantastic that Northern Ireland has secured a commission, offering people here a real opportunity to get involved and experience the best new music has to offer.’

New Music 20x12 was initiated by Jillian Barker and David Cohen and is delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with the BBC, LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) and Sound and Music. It is generously supported by committed patrons and funders from across the UK including the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland.

For more information about New Music 20x12 see