Rebecca Saunders

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Berlin-based British composer Rebecca Saunders was granted the tenth Commission in 2018 and her work will be premiered at the Lucerne Festival 2020.

With her distinctive and intensely striking sonic language, she is one of the leading international representatives of her generation. Born in London in 1967, Rebecca Saunders studied composition at Edinburgh University with Nigel Osborne and with Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe.

Since 2003, Saunders has steadily expanded the spectrum of her compositions, beginning with chroma (2003-2013), a collage of 6-23 instrument groups and sound sources distributed throughout a space. Since the premiere in 2003, 19 new versions have been produced for radically different performance venues, with the architectural conditions of these spaces determining the arrangement of the individual chamber music groups within the piece. Stasis - Kollektiv (2011/2016), dedicated to Ensemble Kollektiv, comprises 25 ‘modules’ for 23 soloists, treating each soloist like a protagonist in a form of abstract instrumental theatre. Her first work for the stage, inside out, for a choreographed installation, was created in collaboration with Sasha Waltz and received over 100 performances throughout Europe.

From 2013 to 2016, Saunders wrote a series of solos for performers with whom she has collaborated closely over many years, including Marco Blaauw, Nicolas Hodges, Teodoro Anzellotti, Séverine Ballon, and most recently Helen Bledsoe for Bite (2016), for solo bass flute. As if developing upon this process, she simultaneously pursued her keen interest in works for soloist in a concerto role by writing the double percussion concerto Void (2014) for Christian Dierstein and Dirk Rotbrust with the WDRSO, conducted by Peter Rundell, and the RPS shortlisted trumpet concerto Alba (2014) for Marco Blaauw, the BRSO and Peter Eötvös. These orchestral concertos marked the close of a triptych of works which also includes the violin concerto Still (2011). A new extended version of Still was produced in the summer of 2016 in a joint project with the Jungen Deutschen Philharmonie (JDP), with dancers from Sasha Waltz & Guests and choreographed by Antonio Rúz.

Saunders is in great demand as a composition tutor and teaches regularly at the Darmstadt Summer Courses and at the Impuls Academy in Graz. In addition, she has been professor for composition at the Hanover University of Music, Theatre and Media since 2011. In 2009 she became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, and was honored with membership of the Sachsen Academy of Arts in Dresden in 2013.