classical music
contemporary classical

Ensemble Modern: Rebecca Saunders Portrait

Part of SoundState

The second of two concerts with leading contemporary music specialists Ensemble Modern presents the music of multi-award-winning British composer Rebecca Saunders.

Saunders’ Skin for soprano and 13 instruments plays with two Modernist literary texts. It was inspired by a passage from Samuel Beckett’s television play The Ghost Trio:

‘dust is the skin of a room
history is a skin
the older it gets the more impressions are left on its surface
look again...’

and quotes from Molly Bloom’s passionate monologue in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

The piece won the RPS award for Chamber-Scale composition, the jury commenting: ‘[it displays] an ability to hear and reproduce astonishing sounds with an artistry and technique which leave us gasping in admiration’.

The short piece Fury II for double bass and ensemble explores the dimensions of sound and noise.

Explaining the title of ‘a visible trace, Saunders speaks about hunting down sound: ‘Find the thing and it disappears; name the thing and it loses shape and meaning. That is the ‘trace’ ... unattainable, elusive, slips through your fingers, the moment you touch it, it is gone.’

The work’s eleven soloists form small chamber groups, each creating musical threads which coexist in the overall texture to create, in the composer’s words, ‘an unusual tension’.

Few composers make you more aware of the intricacy, delicacy and elementality of the musical process.
The Guardian


Ensemble Modern
Vimbayi Kaziboni conductor
Juliet Fraser soprano


Rebecca Saunders: Fury II for double bass & ensemble; a visible trace for ensemble; Skin for soprano & 13 instruments

Dates & times

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Queen Elizabeth Hall


£15 - £20
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£15, £20


25% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Discounted student tickets are available from Student Pulse in the month before this concert. Some of these seats are on the stage. Download the Student Pulse app or register online

Related events
Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer at 9pm – Artists' Bar with Rebecca Saunders. Grab a drink after the concert and delve deeper into the music at this informal Q&A with our SoundState featured artist. Admission free.