Premiere in the Elbphilharmonie

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018




Next month I'll be attending the premiere of an unusual new piece commissioned by NDR in Germany, to be played in the small hall of the amazing new concert venue Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

It's a piece that takes my love for 'plucked' instruments to a new level, as it's written for five of them - Mandolin, Guitar, Harp, Theorbo and Harpsichord. As any of you who know my career will know, the mandolin part is taken by my dear friend and awesome colleague Avi Avital, who helped organise the commission.

The piece, despite being mainly uplifting and full of energy is entitled 'Death is a Friend of Ours'. I was inspired by a book of poems by Helen Dunmore, who died from cancer last year and in her very last poem she charted a rather unexpected relationship with death. Her final poem starts 'Death, hold out your arms to me, embrace me, Give me your motherly caress, Through all this suffering You have not forgotten me."

I was very touched by this idea of death as a caring friend or even a parent, and also by the book's treatment of life as like the ride a surfer takes along the inside of a wave - something full of wonder but inevitably short-lived. The three movements of my work are something of a response to this and are kind of 'dances with death'. Like Dunmore's poems, the dances take a surprisingly positive and uplifting look at the experience. They are telling us we should take joy from our brief time on earth.

The line 'Death is a friend of ours' strikes a similar tone to Helen Dunmore's poems, but comes from the English philosopher, and native of my home town St Albans, Francis Bacon.




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Undula for Molly Morkowski

Posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2017



Undula is a new solo piano piece written for New York-based Molly Morkowski. The premiere takes place at a recital she is giving in Montana State University this October 7th. Undula is inspired by the Californian pool paintings of David Hockney. Read more about it here




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New piece for San Diego Symphony

Posted on Friday, June 09, 2017




I was honoured to be asked by San Diego Symphony to write a celebratory fanfare in honour of their departing maestro Jahja Ling, who conducted the premieres of my Night Parade and the Violin Concerto Fragile Light. The former of these pieces Jahja also brought to Carnegie Hall for the orchestra's debut there, as well as on their tour of China in 2013. I enjoyed working with Maestro Ling, who had a firm but gentle approach, and the orchestra has clearly flourished under his tenure, with a raft of excellent younger players joining and creating his legacy for the future.

The fanfare is a 3 minute work for full orchestra, you can hear it by clicking the youtube video above. It's called Fanfarrón, the Spanish word, said to be the origin of the word 'fanfare', which translates roughly as 'show-off' or 'loud-mouth' - a reference to the character of the music of course, rather than the man himself, who is anything but!





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Avi Avital/Dover Quartet US Tour

Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017




Mandolin rock-star Avi Avital and the leading US quartet Dover Quartet tour Cymbeline in North America throughout February, as well as recording the piece for a future release, alongside Bruce's The North Wind was a Woman. Described by the Financial Times as "a vibrant piece with a golden hue that finds much sonic variety in the instrumental combination", Cymbeline is inspired by the spiritual place the sun has had in human culture and forms three movements relating to positions of the sun - sunrise, noon, and sunset.

Tour dates:





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Nothing in Denmark

Posted on Wednesday, January 04, 2017




Den Jyske Opera, otherwise known as Danish National Opera opens the Danish premiere of Nothing this February

More info here

Nothing was recently picked as an operatic highlight of 2016 by The Guardian, The Telegraph, Arts Desk and critic Mark Pullinger.

Fiona Maddocks called it "one of the world premiere hits of the year" in The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/04/fiona-maddocks-best-classical-music-2016-chineke-david-bruce-ring-opera-north-lulu-eno

and David Nice at Arts Desk said "this was a show that worked at every level, begging a London airing (the opera premieres in Teller’s Denmark next year)."
http://www.theartsdesk.com/opera/best-2016-opera
Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph also mentioned it in his round-up of the best of the year:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opera/what-to-see/thumbs-new-work-lukewarm-applause-big-hitters-2016-opera/
as did critic Mark Pullinger on his personal blog:
http://beckmessersquill.com/2016/12/28/plums-and-turkeys-musical-voyage-around-2016-highlights-mark-pullinger/





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Yo-Yo Ma & Silk Road Ensemble tour Cut the Rug

Posted on Thursday, July 07, 2016




Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble perform Cut the Rug at a string of high-profile venues across the US on their Festival tour summer. Details below:

Tanglewood

August 7, 2016
8:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Tanglewood, Koussevitzky Music Shed
Lenox, MA

Longwood Gardens

August 9, 2016
7:30 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Kennett Square, PA

The Freeman Stage at Bayside

August 10, 2016
7:30 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Selbyville, DE

Wolf Trap

August 11, 2016
8:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Vienna, VA

Blossom Music Festival

August 13, 2016
8:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Cleveland, OH

Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

August 15, 2016
7:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Hilbert Circle Theater
Indianapolis, IN

Ravinia Festival

August 16, 2016
8:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Highland Park, IL

Cal Performances

August 18, 2016
8:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Hearst Greek Theatre
Berkeley, CA

Green Music Center

August 19, 2016
7:30 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Weill Hall and Lawn
Sonoma, CA

Hollywood Bowl

August 21, 2016
7:00 PM
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma
Los Angeles, CA





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Jennifer Koh at NYPhil Biennial

Posted on Thursday, May 19, 2016




Jennifer Koh performs the premiere of David's new solo violin piece Marzipan and the NY Phil Biennial concert at National Sawdust in Williamsburg,NY this May 24th at 7pm, along with a collection of other new commissions from the likes of Kaija Saariaho, Andrew Norman and Vijay Iyer. The event will be broadcast live on WQXR and available to stream from this page.




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Julian Bliss/Carducci Quartet CD release.

Posted on Tuesday, May 03, 2016




I'm delighted that the excellent recording of Gumboots by Julian Bliss and the Carducci String Quartet has been released on Signum Classics. A couple of reviews already in:



... at first haunting, then breezy, catchy, exhilarating.

The Financial Times ★★★★

... a vital journey towards exhilarating physical release.
The Times




Links to listen and purchase here



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Watch the Official Trailer: The Music of Strangers

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2016


A new film from the director of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom tells the extraordinary story of the Silk Road Ensemble musicians. The film and the closing section of the trailer shown below feature the piece they commissioned from David Bruce, Cut the Rug. The film opens in theatres across the US in June 2016.







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Camerata Pacifica to Perform World Premiere ‘The Consolation of Rain’ by David Bruce

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2016






From April 10-15, 2016, Camerata Pacifica will present the world premiere of “The Consolation of Rain” commissioned from David Bruce for Camerata Pacifica by Bob Klein and Lynne Cantlay.

The Consolation of Rain is a 20 minute work for oboe, cello, harp and percussion, and will be premiered by the Camerata Principal Artists Nicholas Daniel, oboe; Ani Aznavoorian, cello; Bridget Kibbey, harp; and Ji Hye Jung, percussion.

"We all take consolation from different things, and without wanting to be overly morbid, I would like to think that after I die, my loved ones could take consolation from the sense that I was quite literally all around them, in the air, water and earth as part of the natural cycle of things," said Bruce,

Among Bruce's inspirations is the poem "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep" by Mary Elizabeth Frye, from which the composer connects experiencing emotion and observing nature.

The poem reads, "I am a thousand winds that blow. / I am the diamond glints on snow. / I am the sunlight on ripened grain. / I am the gentle autumn rain."

Bruce's resulting work focuses on an element all to common to the Englishman: rain.

"Taking Debussy's method of portraying the sea in La Mer as something of a model, the piece is primarily an abstract musical construction, but one that constantly and variously evokes different aural images of rain, whether it be rippling, glistening, dripping, rumbling, swooshing or showering; gathering pace or subsiding; distantly echoing or vigorously present," he said. "But throughout, the impression is of rain not as dark and depressing, but as something positive, consoling, life-affirming and renewing the 'gentle autumn rain' mentioned in the Frye poem."

Performances will be held in Ventura at 3 p.m. Sunday April 10; San Marino at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12; Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, in Santa Barbara.

The concerts will also feature works by Nigel Osborne, Christopher Deane, Toku Takemitsu and Debussy. Adrian Spence, Melanie Lançon, Nicholas Daniel, Bridget Kibbey, Marcia Dickstein, Ani Aznavoorian, Ji Hye Jung, Lee Vinson, Egle Januleviciute and Caroline Bloom will also perform.

Update

Here is a recording from the concert:






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