Welcome to robertfokkens.co.uk, home page of composer Robert FokkensLinks to selected scores are now available in the playlist section of the site.
GET THE CD HERE
Please check the Diary for upcoming events and details of the events below. Select a year from the pull-down menu and click ’Go’ for a full listing of past and up-coming events.
To subscribe to Robert’s latest news updates, please add your email address to the newsletter mailing list using the box below.
MAY 2015: Composing and Conducting
The exciting new ensemble Project Instrumental will premiere a short new work for string trio and string ensemble in Oxford on Friday 12 June. Marking the beginning of a larger collaboration with Project Instrumental, the piece is programmed alongside music by Joe Cutler, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. The trio part is played by the Zoltan Trio - Lowri Porter (violin, and music director of Project Instrumental), Nancy Johnson (viola) and Rosalind Gladstone (cello). More details are available on the website.
On 25 July, Robert will be conducting the SA New Music Ensemble in a gala concert of music by contemporary South African composers. This will include his own piece for the ensemble and pieces by Diale Mabitsela, Charlotte Seither, Hendrik van Blerk, Malcolm Dedman, and Pierre-Henri Wicomb. The concert is in association with New Music Indaba. Some more details are available here.
APRIL 2015: Opera Commission - The Application
Robert will be composing a new opera with a libretto by Laurence Allan for Cape Town Opera later this year. The Application will be given five performances in November in Artscape, Cape Town in collaboration with UCT Opera School. See the diary page for further details.
MARCH 2015: Retorica and Recording
The violin duo, Retorica recently performed a new work of Robert’s that included experiments with electronics. They also performed one of his older works, ’Orange’ and will perform more of his older works in Inverness later this month.
Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Eager recently recorded Robert’s piece ’Ukuhamba Kukufunda’ for a CD that will be released later this year. It was originally performed by the South African National Youth Orchestra in 2013 and was revised this year for this new recording.
JANUARY 2015: CD Review
Robert’s CD, Tracing Lines received a very good review this month from Carson Cooman in US review magazine Fanfare which described it as ’truly beautiful’, ’accessible’, ’striking’ and ’compelling’.
Other reviews from the past year have been equally positive:
’never a hint of banality ... a highly rewarding programme of music’ – Christian Morris, Composition Today
’well-defined compositional voice’ – Edward Venn, Tempo
Buy the CD here.
DECEMBER 2014: Broadcasts
This year has seen several exciting broadcasts of Robert’s work. First there was Mob of Meerkats from the piece Mammals of Southern Africa on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme in June. Following this, the first three movements of the same piano trio were played on a special edition of Radio Winchcombe’s programme Impromptu in August and Inyoka Etshanini was broadcast on the pilot episode of a new Resonance FM show, Beethoven Was Wrong in November.
All of the pieces and more are available on Tracing Lines, Robert’s portrait CD.
NOVEMBER 2014: Mzantsi Nights
Robert’s Mzantsi Nights - recently premiered by the New Juilliard Ensemble in New York - has been selected by the New Music South Africa panel for submission to the ISCM World New Music Days 2015.
SEPTEMBER 2014: A Visit to Birmingham Conservatoire
On 28 October 2014, Robert will be spending the day at Birmingham Conservatoire. He will be teaching as well as giving a seminar presentation on his music.
AUGUST 2014: Published Works
A full portfolio of Robert’s works for chamber ensembles, solo piano, and voices with and without instruments is now available from Composers Edition . Robert’s chamber works for Kingma system quarter-tone flutes are available from Tetractys Publishing.
JULY 2014: New Piece for New Juilliard Ensemble
Robert is currently working on an ensemble piece for the New Juilliard Ensemble which will be performed in the Paul Recital Hall at Juilliard School, New York as part of the UBUNTU Festival of South African Music and Arts. The concert of South African contemporary music in which Robert’s piece will be performed is on Monday 3 November. For more information, please click here.
JUNE 2014: Radio 3 Broadcast
Mob of Meerkats, the third movement of Robert’s piano trio Mammals of Southern Africa, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune on 12 June. The programme featured an interview and performances by the Fidelio Trio whose recording of Mammals is available on Robert’s portrait CD, Tracing Lines.
MAY 2014: Worry/Don’t Worry
Robert’s new song, Worry/Don’t Worry was performed by Sarah Dacey and Clare Hammond at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival Gala opening evening. Reviews of the performance can be read here.
MARCH 2014: Associateship of the Royal Academy of Music
Robert has recently been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, given to former students of the RAM who have ’distinguished themselves in the music profession and made a significant contribution to it in their field’.
FEBRUARY 2014: Vale of Glamorgan Festival performances
Robert’s work will feature three times in this year’s Vale of Glamorgan festival: Sarah Dacey (soprano) and Clare Hammond (piano) perform a new song in the Gala Opening Evening atPenarth Pier Pavilion on Thursday 8 May), and on 11 May Sarah teams up with cellist Alice Neary for a performance of Two songs on texts by Ibn al-Arabi and juice perform Words in an afternoon concert at Fonmon Castle.
JANUARY 2014: Tracing Lines commercial launch
Tracing Lines, Robert’s debut CD on the Métier label recorded by the Fidelio Trio, Patricia Rozario and Carla Rees, has been commercially released, and is now available internationally in CD shops and from most online retailers. You can also purchase it directly from the Métier website at:
OCTOBER 2013: Bachtrack review of Cardiff CD launch concert
International review website, Bachtrack has published a substantial four-star review by Peter Reynolds of the Cardiff launch of Robert’s new CD Tracing Lines at Cardiff University. In it, he describes the music as both spare and spacious, its gestures and material refined...memorable, cool and restrained, but always at the service of the emotional idea behind it and says of Mammals of Southern Africa that it is a work of absolute stylistic unity...(which) found a range of colour and spareness in the piano trio texture that should be a model for students attempting this most challenging of combinations.
Read the whole review here:
SEPTEMBER 2013: Publishing deal with Composers Edition announced
Composers Edition, a recently founded publishing company which has already taken on an impressive group of leading British composers, will publish a large number of Robert’s works from October 2013.
An Invitation to Tracing Lines – Robert Fokkens CD launch concert
The “virtuosic Fidelio Trio” (Sunday Times) present a concert of works by Robert Fokkens to celebrate the release of ‘Tracing Lines’, Robert’s first chamber music portrait disc. ‘Tracing Lines’ brings together the Fidelio Trio, Carla Rees (bass flute), Patricia Rozario (soprano) and Grammy-award winning producer Raphael Mouterde to present the premiere commercial recordings of Robert Fokkens’s chamber music on the Métier label.
Fokkens’s music draws together a broad range of influences in a language rooted in traditional Xhosa music from South Africa, and has been described as “hilarious…engaging…quirky…witty…” (The Times) and “engrossing if unsettling… colourful, challenging…irreverent…moving” (Classical Source website).
Sunday 6 October 2013 at 7pm, doors 6:30pm
CD generously funded and supported by the Richard Thomas Foundation and Cardiff University
JUNE 2013: Publishing deal announced with Tetractys Publishing
Robert has signed a deal with flute specialist publisher Tetractys Publishing to publish three of his chamber works including Kingma-system quarter-tone alto and bass flutes. Two song on texts by Ibn al-Arabi (mezzo-soprano and bass flute), Tracing Lines (original single-movement work for alto flute and cello) and Inyoka Etshanini (Snake in the Grass -for alto or bass flute, violin and cello) are now available for purchase from the Tetractys online shop.
JANUARY 2013: SA National Youth Orchestra premiere with Gerard Korsten
Robert has been commissioned by the SAMRO Endowment for the National Arts to write a substantial work for the South African National Youth Orchestra to premiere under Gerard Korsten at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2013.
DECEMBER 2012: Recording in Cardiff
The Concert Hall of Cardiff University’s School of Music sees three days of intensive recording sessions with the Fidelio Trio, Carla Rees, Patricia Rozario and producer Raphael Mouterde (see details below) in early January.
NOVEMBER 2012: Tracing Lines in Oxford
Darragh Morgan (violin) and Robin Michael (cello) will present their first performance of Tracing Lines at the Jacqueline du Pre concert hall in Oxford in January 2013.
SEPTEMBER 2012: Carducci Quartet premiere
The Carducci Quartet, one of the UK’s best young quartets and quartet-in-residence at Cardiff University, will premiere a new quartet by Robert on Tuesday 13 November in Cardiff University’s Concert Series.
AUGUST 2012: CD Recording Project
Robert’s first CD - chamber and solo works for piano and strings, alongside his setting of David Diop’s Africa - will be recorded by the Fidelio Trio (Darragh Morgan, violin; Robin Michael, cello; and Mary Dullea, piano), Carla Rees (bass flute) and Patricia Rozario (soprano) in January 2013. The CD will be released in late 2013 on the Metier label, and will be produced by Grammy Award winner Raphael Mouterde of Lemniscat Productions.
AUGUST 2012: Fidelio Trio present UK premiere of Mammals of Southern Africa
The Fidelio Trio will present the UK premiere of the piano trio Robert wrote for their 2011 tour South Africa, Mammals of Southern Africa, at a concert for the Cardiff University Concert Series in February 2013.
JUNE 2012: Grahamstown National Arts Festival hosts Divisons for marimba and vibraphone
Duo FourIVTwo, comprising Magda de Vries (marimba) and Frank Mallows (vibraphone) will perform Divisions for marimba and vibraphone at the the National Arts Main Festival in Grahamstown. This is a programme of South African works, most of which were commissioned by Duo FourIVTwo. It also includes pieces by two of Robert’s teachers, Peter Klatzow and Peter Louis van Dijk, as well as eminent South African composers Paul Hanmer, Hendrik Hofmeyr and Alexander Johnson.
MAY 2012: World premiere for Soshanguve Dances
The world premiere of Soshanguve Dances for string orchestra will be performed on Thursday 24 May 2012 by the Free State Youth Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Fokkena at Oranje Girls High School, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
MAY 2012: New Commission for Quintet premieres in London
Dynamic recorder quintet Consortium5 present the world premiere of a new commission by Robert Fokkens for recorder quintet and two voices at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury. The quintet will be performed for the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music on 14 May, and also in a Pentecost service on 27 May.
MARCH 2012: World Premiere of Flytrap, a new piece by Robert Fokkens
Vocal ensemble EXAUDI perform the world premiere of a new piece for vocal trio by Robert Fokkens called Flytrap. The piece was specially commissioned for EXAUDI’s Exposure series, to be performed on 12 March at Kings Place, London , 13 March at Cardiff University and 28 March at the Michael Tippet Centre, Bath Spa University.
JULY 2011: ENSEMBLE AMORPHA PREMIERE AT NONCLASSICAL
Up-and-coming new music group Ensemble Amorpha will premiere a new piece for mixed quartet at the first NONCLASSICAL club night of the Autumn 2011 season in September.
JUNE 2011: WIMBLEDON MUSIC FESTIVAL COMMISSION FOR JUICE AND KOSMOS
The Wimbledon Music Festival has commissioned a work for two of my favourite ensembles, vocal trio juice and string trio Kosmos, performing together for the first time.The piece will be premiered at the Festival in November 2011.
JUNE 2011: CLAIRE BOOTH AND ANDREW MATTHEWS-OWEN AT THE PURCELL ROOM
Soprano Clair Booth and pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen have commissioned me a second time - following Africa, commissioned for them by SAMRO in 2007. The piece will form part of a festschrift of songs by myself, Laurence Crane and others, to be performed at the Purcell Room in October.
MAY 2011: TETE A TETE OPERA SEEDBED PROJECT
After commissioning and performing my mini-opera contact about 20 times at the Riverside Studios and around Hammersmith in their 2010 Opera Festival, Tête à Tête Opera have commissioned me to present a work-in-progress at the 2011 Festival as part of their Seedbed programme.
APRIL 2011: COMMISSION FOR FIDELIO TRIO TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA
The exceptional Fidelio Trio (Mary Dullea - piano, Darragh Morgan - violin, Robin Michael - cello) will tour South Africa in September 2011 with programmes of South African, Irish and standard repertoire works. They will include performances of a substantial new work for trio, commissioned by the SAMRO Endowment for the Arts, and ImVubu, commissioned for the Austrian Cultural Forum 2010, in a number of their concerts.
MARCH 2011: JESU DULCIS MEMORIA SELECTED FOR THE LONDON FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY CHURCH MUSIC
The St Pancras Church Choir, conducted by Christopher Batchelor, will perform my 2000 motet Jesu Dulcis Memoria in a choral eucharist as part of the 2011 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music in May.
MARCH 2011: SOUTH AFRICAN PREMIERE OF TO HELL AND BACK
The UCT String Ensemble, conducted by Alexander Fokkens (my brother) will give the South African premiere of my 2000 string ensemble work, To Hell and Back in a concert at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town in May.
MARCH 2011: DUO FOUR4TWO COMMISSION FOR TUNED PERCUSSION TOURING SOUTH AFRICA
Marimba and vibraphone duo Four4Two (Magda de Vries - marimba, Frank Mallows - vibraphone) will tour South Africa in August/September. They will premiere a number of new South African works - including one by myself, and pieces by Paul Hanmer, Clare Loveday, Hendrik Hofmeyr and others - which have been commissioned by the duo.
FEBRUARY 2011: COMMISSION FOR GREENWICH INTERNATIONAL STRING QUARTET FESTIVAL
The Greenwich International String Quartet Festival 2011 has commissioned me to write to piece to be performed by a professional quartet alongside an intermediate string ensemble for an education project in collaboration with Junior Trinity. The first performance will take place in the festival in April 2011.
JANUARY 2011: FIBONACCI SEQUENCE AT THE BUXTON FESTIVAL
The Fibonacci Sequence will play the original one-movement version of Tracing Lines in their closing concert for the Buxton Festival 2011.
DECEMBER 2010: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY POST
I have been appointed as Lecturer in Composition at Cardiff University, starting there in February 2011.
SEPTEMBER 2010: LAUNCH OF BOW PROJECT CD
After seven years of commissioning, performing and recording, the Bow Project has reached it’s final stage with the double CD being released on 16 October.
Hailed as one of the most important musical heritage projects in South Africa, The Bow Project was launched in 2002 by composer Michael Blake as a project of NewMusicSA’s annual New Music Indaba at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown. South African composers were invited to respond to the uhadi songs of the legendary performer from Nqoko village near Lady Frere, Nofinishi Dywili. It is to the memory of Nofinishi that the project and this recording are dedicated. The double CD contains recordings of both remastered recordings of Nofinishi’s original songs and of the works that have been written in response to her songs for the project by composers such as Robert Fokkens, Michael Blake, Sazi Dlamini, Mokale Koapeng and Jurgen Brauninger.
The launch will take place on 16 October at Stellenbosch University at 18:00
AUGUST 2010: Lite Bite dates
My Lite Bite mini-opera for Tete-a-tete’s Opera Festival at the Riverside Studios is being performed most nights as part of the festival - after workshop performances in the first week, the four short operas are now being put on in the foyer of the Riverside Studios before and between shows in addition to daily performances in Hammersmith’s parks, malls and squares. The festival itself is a wonderful showcase for some of the most interesting and creative approaches to the genre to be found in the UK, and runs Thursday - Friday evenings 5 - 22 August. If you have an interest in opera and around London this month, I strongly recommend popping in for at least one evening just to see what’s on - and you’ll probably bump into my mini-opera Contact too.
JUNE 2010: Tete-a-tete Opera Festival Lite Bite
I’ve been invited to write a mini-opera for Tete-a-tete’s annual opera festival this year. Running from 5-22 August at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London, The Opera Festival attracts some of the most interesting composers and groups working in the field of ’opera’. Lite Bites are very short mini-operas performed by a group of two singers and two players in public spaces both at the Riverside Studios and around Hammersmith for the duration of the festival. For more information, visit The Opera Festival’s website: www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/OpFest2010/
APRIL 2010: Soundings 2010 programme released
The programme for the concerts at the Austrian Cultural Forum’s Soundings 2010 have been finalised. See details of the concerts on the diary pages. Patricia Rozario (soprano), Mary Dullea (piano), Darragh Morgan (violin), Robin Michael (cello), Lore Lixenberg (mezzo), Rowland Sutherland (flute) and Tom Lessels will perform music by myself, Ian Vine, Emily Howard, Gerhard Krammer, Elisabeth Harnick and Stephan Karl.
APRIL 2010: Tracing Lines in the Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
A recording of my violin and cello duo Tracing Lines has been released with the most recent issue of the Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa (vol. 6, 2009) along with a brief commentary in the journal. The recording is by Julie-Anne Derome (violin) and Gabriel Prynn (cello) of the exceptional Canadian piano trio, Trio Fibonacci.
For more information, visit the publisher’s site:
MARCH 2010: Ave Verum Corpus premiere at Leeds Cathedral
On 30 March the girls’ and adult choirs of Leeds Cathedral conducted by Christopher McElroy premiere my Ave Verum Corpus, commissioned by Choir and Organ magazine last year.
FEBRUARY 2010: Trio Fibonacci open the Louise Blouin Foundation Concert Series 2010
On 4 March, exceptional Canadian piano trio, Trio Fibonacci, will present the first of this year’s monthly concerts at the Louise Blouin Foundation, Holland Park. The concert includes their third performance of my duo for violin and cello, Tracing Lines, alongside trios by Michael Nyman, Schumann and Beethoven. This wonderful series is curated by pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, and takes place on the first Thursday every month. For details, check the diary page of my site.
JANUARY 2010: Teaching composition in Cardiff
This semester I am fortunate to be teaching a fine group of third year composition students at Cardiff University.
NOVEMBER 2009: Austrian Cultural Forum’s Soundings 2010 Festival
I’ve been invited to take part in the 7th edition of the ACF’s Soundings Festival next year. With a line-up of great performers and excellent composers, the concerts in May should be very exciting. Check back soon for final details of concerts, performers and pieces.
NOVEMBER 2009: Strobe date and venue finalised
The SA NYO performance of my 1999 orchestral work Strobe will take place on 9 December 2009 at the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Strobe will be performed alongside music by Mokale Koapeng, Peter Klatzow and Rimsky-Korsakov. The orchestra is conducted by dynamic Swedish conductor Frederik Burstedt.
NOVEMBER 2009: Strobe returns to Cape Town with the South African National Youth Orchestra
The National Youth Orchestra will perform my first orchestral piece (Strobe, written in 1999 and previously performed by both the University of Cape Town and Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestras) in Cape Town in early December. Dates are currently being finalised - check back soon.
OCTOBER 2009: An Eventful Morning Near East London on Swedish Radio
The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s performance of my violin concerto, An Eventful Morning Near East London with Ernst Kovacic (solo violin) and Pierre-Andre Valade (conductor) was broadcast on Swedish Radio on Thursday 15 October. If you would like to hear the performance and the other excellent works on this concert, follow the link below. My piece is about 30 minutes in.
SEPTEMBER 2009: Recordings of my work now on myspace
If you would like to hear some of my music, please visit www.myspace.com/robfokkens - if you would like to hear more, please contact me using the form on my Contact page.
AUGUST 2009: Flights into Darkness at Tete-a-tete’s The Opera Festival reviewed on Seen and Heard International
In a lengthy review of the performances of Flights into Darkness at The Opera Festival, Seen and Heard said of the piece: ...this is an intelligently conceived piece that has touches of brilliance. The work is dark, mesmerising and enormously intense, and this performance was an unforgettable experience.
JULY 2009: Flights into Darkness and Cabaret Fou at Tete-a-tete’s The Opera Festival, Riverside Studios
Flights into Darkness, a dark melodrama devised by myself and the performers Tom Frankland (actor) and Jakob Fichert (pianist), will be presented on the opening and second nights of Tete-a-tete’s fabulous The Opera Festival at The Riverside Studios on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 July. Produced by Sounds Underground and premiered in London and Oxford in March (one reviewer describing it as highly original and saying it is impossible not to be completely enthralled), Flights into Darkness is the thrilling journey of one man’s descent into madness. With a suitably late starting time - 10.00pm - this is guaranteed to send you out into the night with a lot to think about, and possibly slightly nervous...
Cabaret Fou also makes a return to the Riverside Studios after a successful performance at the 2007 Opera Festival. Singing sad, funny, ironic, bitter and rude songs by Graham Fitkin, Roger Marsh, Laurence Crance, Kerry Andrew, Geoff Hannan, David Blake, Robert Fokkens and others, Cabaret Fou will entertain you stylishly and movingly for an hour on a Saturday night (10.00pm on 8 August). Please see individual listings on the diary page for full information, but have a look at http://www.tete-a-tete.org.uk for more information about this exciting festival.
JULY 2009: Tracing Lines broadcast on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio
A live recording of the original version of Tracing Lines for alto flute and cello, performed by Vernon Hill (alto flute) and Benjamin Hughes (cello) was broadcast on ABC’s Classic FM on 27 July 2009. The recording, made at Piers Lane’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2008 in Townsville, came from a chamber concert performed by The Fibonacci Sequence along with a number of other very distiguished performers. Full details of the concert and broadcast can be found at: www.abc.net.au/classic/daily/stories/s2601809.htm Unfortunately, this programme does not appear to be available for listening online.
JUNE 2009: Ernst Kovacic, Pierre-Andre Valade and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to perform An Eventful Morning Near East London
As I announced earlier in the year, my violin concerto An Eventful Morning Near East London will receive it’s second performance at the ISCM’s World New Music Days in Sweden on 1 October this year. The performers for the concert in Gothenburg will be international violin soloist Ernst Kovacic, renowned conductor Pierre-Andre Valade, (currently conducting the premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna for the Manchester International Festival) and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Full information is on the diary page,
MAY 2009: The Louise T Blouin Foundation Concert Series
Pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen has devised and curated a fascinating series of concerts for the Louise T Blouin Foundation art gallery in Holland Park. Following an extraordinary opening recital by percussionist Joby Burgess in April and a fascinating music and video collaboration called Broken Voices on 7 May, Andrew teams up with soprano Claire Booth for a recital of contemporary song co-promoted with Sounds Underground on Wednesday 10 June. The recital includes the London premiere of Robert’s Africa, a setting of French-African poet David Diop’s visionary poem. For further information about the series, please visit www.ltbfoundation.org/foundation/events.htm
APRIL 2009: The Times has been very nice recently...
In January, The Times said of Clariphonics’ Purcell Room performance of Robert’s clarinet quartet Best of all was the world premiere of Glimpses of a half-forgotten future... More recently, in a glowing review of juice’s Wigmore Hall debut recital, their reviewer said ...I loved Robert Fokkens’s ’Words’... For the full comments on my pieces and other press about my music, please click on the Media button above. Select Reviews from the menu and click Go.
APRIL 2009: A Curious Adventure featured on TV and radio
Robert’s educational project with Combe Down and Newbridge primary schools in Bath - an oratorio written collaboratively with the pupils and performed by 300 children at the Bath Pavilion on 30 April - was featured on BBC Points West (regional TV news), BBC Bristol (regional radio) and in local newspapers on the day of the performance. The show itself, conducted by Robert, was a huge success, with the magnificent efforts of the young performers rewarded by a standing ovation from a capacity crowd.
MARCH 2009: An eventful morning... selected for ISCM World New Music Days
Robert’s concerto for violin and chamber orchestra An Eventful Morning Near East London has been selected for performance at the ISCM World New Music Days in Sweden. After a national call for submissions, the piece was selected to represent South Africa alongside a number of other works. The WNMD takes place in three cities in Sweden (Visby, Vaxjo and Goteborg/Vastra Goteland) this year between 24 September and 4 October.
FEBRUARY 2009: The Wigmore gets juice-y
Watch out for funky vocal trio juice’s Wigmore Hall debut on 6 April. Performing for the Park Lane’s Groups Monday Platform series, juice’s set includes a performance of Robert’s Words alongside a premiere by Gabriel Prokofiev and other contemporary pieces.
JANUARY 2009: Flights into Darkness
The end of March sees the premiere of Flights into Darkness, a contemporary melodrama created collaboratively with actor Tom Frankland and pianist Jakob Fichert. The piece brings together texts from two disturbing fin-de-siécle novellas - Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey and Arthur Schnitzler’s Flight into Darkness.
This will be heard at both The Warehouse in London (24 March) and the Jacqueline du Pré Hall in Oxford (27 March). Please see the diary pages for further details.
JANUARY 2009: Africa premiered
A song recital by Claire Booth (soprano) and Andrew Matthews-Owen (piano) for the BMIC Cutting Edge Tour on 30 January saw the world premiere of Robert’s song Africa, which sets a text by French-African poet David Diop. Hosted by Bromsgrove Concerts, the recital took place in the excellent acoustic of Bromsgrove’s Artrix arts venue. The Birmingham Post described the piece as
a fascinating depiction of post-war liberation struggles...This began with the charm of a mesmerising rocking rhythm leading to angst and passion.
The Cutting Edge Tour includes two more concerts by this duo - on 3 March at Cardiff University, and on 11 March at Cheltenham Town Hall for the Cheltenham Contemporary Concerts series.
Please see the diary pages for more details of these concerts.
More information about The Cutting Edge Tour can be found at www.bmic.co.uk
JANUARY 2009: Clariphonics at the Purcell Room
As part of their excellent recital for the Park Lane Group New Year Series 2009, clarinet quartet Clariphonics performed the world premiere of the piece commissioned from Robert, Glimpses of a Half-Forgotten Future. Both the recital and the piece received favourable reviews, with The Times having this to say:
Best of all was the world premiere of Glimpses of a half-forgotten future by the South African composer Robert Fokkens: sad, strange and scarcely five minutes’ worth of unquiet fragments that expressed more than anything else they had played.
DECEMBER 2008: A new choral piece published
For the January/February 2009 edition, Choir and Organ magazine commissioned Robert to write a motet for their regular New Music feature. The motet, Ave verum corpus, is for SSAATTBB and can be reproduced and used for free for 6 months. To view the score as a PDF and to read about the piece, please visit
DECEMBER 2008: We finally get to Langa...
After a last-minute technical glitch prevented the first performance of Robert’s Cycling to Langa at rarescale’s 5th birthday concert in September, Carla Rees (alto and bass flutes) and Michael Oliva (electronics) of rarescale premiered the piece on 13 December 2008 at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch.
DECEMBER 2008: Sounds Underground appointment
Robert has been appointed Artistic Director of independent new music organisation Sounds Underground.
Please visit www.soundsunderground.org/index.html for more information about Sounds Underground.
OCTOBER 2008: Strings and sticks and...
Sounds Underground, an independent organisation devoted to the promotion of new music in the UK, presented a concert on 24 October at the remarkable Bishopsgate Institute in which Tom Hankey (violin) and Oliver Coates (cello) presented the UK premiere of the complete version of Robert’s Tracing Lines. The concert, entitled strings and sticks and... included some remarkable music by Larry Goves, Anna Meredith, Matt Rogers and others.
SEPTEMBER 2008: Back in the UK
Robert recently returned from South Africa, where he presented lectures and worked with young composers at UNISA (Pretoria), the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Cape Town, the University of Pretoria, and North West University (Potchefstroom), and gave a paper at the annual conference of South Africa’s musicological society SASRIM at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
During his visit he was also a faculty member for New Music South Africa’s annual New Music Indaba, held at UNISA and the University of the Witwatersrand between 1-7 September. For the Indaba, he ran composer workshops for emerging composers from South Africa and Nigeria with London-based ensemble The Chamber Music Company led by pianist Mark Troop. Along with the premiere of a short piece in response to Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time given by The Chamber Music Company, he was also privileged to hear Julie-Anne Derome (violin) and Gabriel Prynn (cello) of Canadian piano trio Trio Fibonacci give the premiere of the full version of Tracing Lines.
At New Music South Africa’s AGM, held at the New Music Indaba, Robert was also honoured to be voted vice-president of NMSA.
For more information about New Music South Africa, please visit www.newmusicsa.org.za/index.html
MAY 2008: sheepdip in Hoxton
Marvellous vocal trio juice will be performing sheepdip as part of their set for Nonclassical at the Macbeth pub in Hoxton on Wednesday 4 June. It should be a great night, with other acts including Laura Moody (amazing singer/cellist), Three and Easy Trio, and Richard Lannoy.
MAY 2008: Tracing Lines to Australia
The excellent chamber ensemble The Fibonacci Sequence will perform Robert’s Tracing Lines for alto flute and cello at the Australian Chamber Music Festival in Townsville, Australia in July. The ACMF, an international chamber music festival held annually in July, features distinguished artists from around the world invited by the artistic director, Piers Lane. See www.afcm.com.au/ for further details.
April 2008: Messiaen mutterings
Robert will give a short introduction to Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time at a recital of Messiaen’s chamber music at St John’s, Notting Hill. This should be an excellent concert, with some of London’s finest young players playing some of the best of Messiaen’s earlier work.
Thursday 8th May at 7:30pm
Chamber Music of Olivier Messiaen
St John’s, Notting Hill, Lansdowne Crescent, W11 2NN (Holland Park, nearest Underground)
Tickets £10/£8 (conc) at the door.
April 2008: Clockwise tour of South Africa
Robert’s new work for violin and harp approach, encounter will be performed by Clockwise - acclaimed South African musicians Jacqueline Kerrod (harp) and Marc Uys (violin) - in a tour around South Africa during June-July 2008. This enterprising duo will tour various programmes, including premieres and repeat performances of commissions written for the tour by 11 of South Africa’s finest composers.
April 2008: 48 hours of contemporary music in the Ukraine
Duo Retorica - outstanding young British violinists Phillipa Mo and Harriet Mackenzie - perform my latest premiere yet in Odessa’s Two Days and Two Nights of New Music Festival. This remarkable Festival presents a programme of new music from 4pm to 4am two days running (18-20 April), leaving audiences exhausted but, hopefully, elated… Retorica go on at 12am on 20 April, performing a colour-themed set of duos written for them by various composers.
April 2008: A visit (NOT a safari…) to South Africa
In August 2008, Robert will return to South Africa to give presentations and classes at, amongst others, UNISA (Pretoria), the University of Stellenbosch and North West University (Potchefstroom). He will also be involved in the annual New Music Indaba to be held in Pretoria in early September, and will be present at a number of performances of his music. Full details will be available on the Diary page soon.
March 2008: SAMRO awards commission for Belgian premiere
SAMRO’s Endowment for the National Arts has recently awarded a commission for Robert’s collaboration with Belgian-based violin and piano duo Christy Collett and Sté phane de May. This will be premiered at De Rode Pomp in Ghent, Belgium on 19 September 2008. Full details on the Diary page.
March 2008: rarescale celebrates its 5th birthday
Pioneering flute-based ensemble rarescale celebrates its 5th anniversary on 13 September with a concert including world premieres by three of their most regular collaborators, one of which is a newly-commissioned work for alto and bass flutes with electronics by Robert.
March 2008: Africa premiere
Leading British soprano Claire Booth and her regular recital partner Andrew Matthews-Owen will perform the world premiere of Robert’s new setting of Davip Diop’s visionary poem Africa (commissioned by the SAMRO Endowment for the National Arts) as part of the Cutting Edge tour 2008. This concert takes place on 28 October 2008, and includes premieres of pieces by Arlene Sierra and Phil Cashian.
January 2008: Histrionics at the Purcell Room
Funky vocal trio juice received rave reviews for their Park Lane Group concert at the Purcell Room in January. In addition to performing Robert’s Words as part of their programme, juice invited Robert to narrate a selection from Roger Marsh’s Pierrot Lunaire, leading Richard Morrison of The Times to observe that “they displayed their theatre skills in six surreal melodramas from Roger Marsh’s Pierrot Lunaire - with another composer, Robert Fokkens, matching them histrionic for histrionic as a highly-wrought narrator…”
See the full review on the Reviews page of the site.
juice repeats this programme with Robert at the Deal Festival on 10 July 2008 - see the Diary page for full details.