Helen Grime: Violin Concerto (2015/16)
Malin Broman, violin
Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester
Daniel Harding, conductor
World Première, 15 December 2016, Berwaldhallen
My Violin Concerto came about after several collaborations with Malin Broman and many years of gestation. We first worked together with Malin’s piano trio (Kungsbacka Trio) but I also had chance to work with the orchestra, conducted by Daniel Harding with Malin leading, in 2010. I was immediately struck by the ferocity, power and passion in her playing. At turns she is able to play with a sort of wild abandon but also with great tenderness, sensitivity and with many different colours. I knew when we started talking about the piece some years back, that I wanted to highlight and showcase these striking, opposing qualities. Violent, virtuosic music covering the whole range of the violin is contrasted with more delicate and reflective filigree material that features oscillating natural harmonic passages and searching melodies.
Towards the beginning of the writing process, I sent Malin various fragments of material and many of these are used in the concerto. These initial sketches actually became the basis for the piece’s central section and everything else sprung from this. In one continuous movement, the piece falls into three main sections but features extensive dreamlike interlinking passages that connect them.
The music of Helen Grime has been performed by leading orchestras around the world, among them the London Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductors who have championed her music include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano, Oliver Knussen, George Benjamin, Daniel Harding, Marin Alsop and Thomas Dausgaard. Her music frequently draws inspiration from related artforms such as painting (Two Eardley Pictures, Three Whistler Miniatures), sculpture (Woven Space) and literature (A Cold Spring, Near Midnight, Limina) and has won praise in equal measure for the craftsmanship of its construction and the urgency of its telling.
Born in 1981, Helen Grime attended St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and studied at the Royal College of Music with Julian Anderson and Edwin Roxburgh (composition) and John Anderson (oboe). She came to public attention in 2003, when her Oboe Concerto won a British Composer Award. In 2008 she was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center where she studied with John Harbison, Michael Gandolfi, Shulamit Ran and Augusta Read Thomas. Grime was a Legal and General Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music from 2007 to 2009. Between 2011 and 2015 she was Associate Composer to the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester and in 2016 was appointed Composer in Residence at Wigmore Hall in London. She was Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London, between 2010 and 2017 and is currently Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was appointed MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for services to music.