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Partnerships > Flagship Programmes > New Music 20x12 > Meet the New Music 20x12 Composers > Anna Meredith

  • Watch a short film about Anna Meredith and her piece for New Music 20x12, produced by NYLON Films.

  • Watch National Youth Orchestra in rehearsal for HandsFree by Anna Meredith

Anna Meredith, commissioned by National Youth Orchestra

'HandsFree'

Special thanks to the Musicians Benevolent Fund for making this New Music 20x12 commission possible.

PRS for Music Foundation: What impact do you think your involvement in New Music 20x12 will have on your work?
Anna Meredith: I'm getting more and more into the immersive and curated side of the music I'm writing. This is a brilliant chance to try something out on a big scale and also a challenge in terms of what's possible for the players to memorise yet still sounds exciting and unexpected.

PRSF: Tell us the story of how and why you joined forces with the performers you are working with on this project.
AM: I've been lucky enough to tutor the amazing composers of the NYO during their 3 annual courses for a couple of years now so I know first hand how jaw-droppingly good the performers are. I've been itching to get my compositional hands on the orchestra!

PRSF: How are you going to approach creating your new work? What kinds of creative input will the performers and community you are working with have on your work?
AM: Watching the NYO and other groups I've worked with do something from memory or just because they know and love it is an inspiring experience. I'd like the performance of this piece to feel as natural as possible so I'm hoping to devise it alongside the orchestra so the material becomes something they're part of and confident with.

PRSF: Who do you hope to reach through the creation and performance of this work and what do you hope they’ll take away with them?
AM: Watching the NYO is always an exciting experience but because this piece will be so portable and flexible I hope we can perform to some unsuspecting members of the public and show a different side to what a performing orchestra can be.

PRSF: Where do you draw your inspiration and influences? Which creator – musical or otherwise – do you most admire?
AM: Argghh! Horrible question! Loads of answers! I hope I draw from lots of places in my music - I like to think I'm pretty musically open-minded!

I'm quite into small scale starting points (even if they then become large scale pieces) so I'm not someone who's drawn to epic poems/paintings/landscapes - it'll tend to be a word or phrase or something I saw or just notes I happen to like!

I'm lucky enough to have some amazing composer-friends (for example Emily Hall, Matt Rogers, Chris Mayo and fellow NYO tutor Larry Goves) who all write really different and individual music and hearing what they're all up to always surprises and inspires me.

PRSF: Which Olympic and/or Paralympic Games will you be seeing in 2012? What was your best/favourite sport when you were growing up?
AM: I'm already on the list for tickets to the cycling, basketball, gymnastics and athletics (along with everyone else in the country) but fingers crossed I can get to something. Despite being shockingly unsporty myself (my brother - (once on the British bobsleigh team!) got all the sporty genes) I love watching gymnastics though must confess to getting a touch of Hoy-mania whilst I should've been working during the last Olympics...

A message from the commissioning organisation, the National Youth Orchestra

In 2012, the National Youth Orchestra's mission to inspire young people nationwide is hitting the streets. Anna Meredith's HandsFree will enable the NYO, in groups of 16 to 160, to share their thrilling musicianship and creative inventiveness without their instruments, through clapping and beatboxing. Set for flashmob style performances in cities nationwide and as a surprise opener/encore to NYO concerts, Anna will shape HandsFree in workshops with members of the NYO, in her words, 'building a piece they're excited to perform and want to own, that showcases their virtuosity to audiences old and new'.