Mark-Anthony Turnage Remembering

Sir Simon Rattle / London Symphony Orchestra
Producer: Andrew Cornall
Engineering: Classic Sound Ltd
Recorded: Live in DSD, January 2017, Barbican Hall, London

Commissioned by the LSO, Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Generously supported by Susie Thomson.

Remembering, written in memory of Evan Scofield, is Mark-Anthony Turnage’s response to the young man’s premature death from cancer in 2013, at the age of 26. Turnage knew Evan as the son of family friends, the jazz guitarist John Scofield and his wife Susan, and the sister of Jeannie, the partner of Ursula. A boy whose quirky but deep rooted enthusiasms – for cinema, axes, hyacinths, friends – reflected a readiness to take on life in all its fullness, a young man whose ways of seeing seemed so good, so full of promise and possibility. Such early deaths strike us less like personal tragedies and more like cosmic catastrophes. What kind of a world is it that allows such things to happen?

Adapted from Guy Dammann’s programme note from the world premiere performance. In the composer’s own words, prior to the world premiere performance: I’d worked closely on Blood on the Floor and Scorched with guitarist John Scofield from the mid-90s and got close to him and the family – his wife Susan, daughter Jeannie and son Evan. So it was a shock when Evan died of cancer at the age of 26. I’d come to terms with older figures such as Henze or Richard Rodney Bennett passing away, but losing a young guy seemed particularly cruel. Having my own family made me think what it would be like to lose a loved one too early in this sudden way.

Writing this piece was a challenge – I had to reconcile something very personal and private with a compositional statement that would inevitably be experienced in a public space by an audience. Across the 30-minute span I was determined there should be enough variety to reflect Evan Scofield as an original and positive person, avoiding a mournful tone throughout, opening up a wider humanity.

Knowing Simon is conducting the performance makes it very special and seems like old times. We built an unusually close working relationship when I was Composer in Association with the CBSO around 1990 and the intimate workshopping of new works there had a big impact on me as a composer. He understands my style and instinctively knows how to approach it. So, we have a mutual trust.

Interviewed by David Allenby (2016), reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers.

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