PRS for Music Foundation: What impact do you think New Music 20×12 will have on your work?
Howard Skempton: Through my involvement with this initiative, existing aspects of my work (a concern with numerical patterns, for example) will loom larger and exert lasting influence.
PRSF: Tell us the story of how and why you joined forces with the performers you are working with on this project.
HS: I was approached by a third party (Third Ear, appropriately) and immediately warmed to the challenge.
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?
HS: Most of the work will be research which will include attendance at bell-ringing events and contact with local ringers.
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?
HS: I hope to reach as many ringers as possible and persuade them that innovation within such a well-established tradition is not an impossibility.
PRSF: Where do you draw your inspiration and influences? Which creator – musical or otherwise – do you most admire?
HS: Morton Feldman is an obvious influence. Also, minimalism (significantly).
Bells proclaim moments of public gathering, of celebration and of important news. ‘Wild Bells to a Wild Sky’ (working title, after Tennyson) will be a new work by Howard Skempton for eight church bells to mark the Olympic year. Skempton is a composer of rare imagination known for writing music of deceptive simplicity and beauty. The piece will be performed to mark the opening of Spitalfields Festival at Christ Church, London, in June 2012 and the work will also be promoted through the 65 societies affiliated to the CCCBR. We anticipate performances across the UK and internationally, including potentially in central London for the 2012 New Year and at churches around the Olympic Park for the Olympic Games. The project is led by the CCCBR in partnership with music production company Third Ear.