Results of the 64th International Rostrum of Composers

Palermo, May 19, 2017 – Brut (2014) by Polish composer Artur Zagajewski (born 1978) and Reachings (2014) by young Finnish composer Sebastian Hilli (born 1990) are the works selected by radio music producers participating in the 64th International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) held in Palermo, from May 16 to 20, 2017. A flagship programme of the International Music Council, the IRC took place for the first time in its history in in Italy, co-organized with the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bellini in the framework of the celebrations of this institution’s 400th anniversary.

Pursuing its mission to promote contemporary music creation through broadcasting for over sixty years, the annual Rostrum has this year again strengthened its role as one of the most important “rendez-vous” for professional exchange between radio producers. Its overall objective remains fostering the exchange of performances of contemporary music between broadcasting organisations. For example, works chosen at the preceding Rostrum (2016) were given some 800 broadcasts by participating networks as well as affiliates of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Since 2015, the IRC has been part of a larger project co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union: Rostrum+ which aims to rethink the ways in which contemporary music connects with audiences through radio network by exploring new strategies to develop audiences, promote new music, enhance the skills of radio professionals and inspire cooperation between musicians, higher music education institutions and broadcasting companies throughout Europe and beyond.

The Rostrum opened its doors to the general public with activities such as IRCSound, a listening station installed in the city’s most prominent bookshop La Feltrinelli a few footsteps away from the Teatro Massimo. Inhabitants of Palermo and visitors were thus able to discover the Rostrum works at the same time as radio delegates in session at the Conservatory. La Feltrinelli hosted also this year’s IRCLab, which saw Italy-born Isabella Vasilotta, artistic director of the Orleans International Piano Competition, present “Nuove Ricette Musicali (New musical recipes”, guiding the audience in discovering contemporary music through the creations of renowned chefs, the presentation culminating in the revelation to the public of a new creation by maître-chocolatier Ernst Knam, especially made for the occasion.

Students and teachers of the Bellini Conservatory attended the listening sessions and exchanged with radio delegates about the music presented and today’s landscape of contemporary creation in general.

The 2017 Rostrum gathered representatives from 29 national radio networks from four continents, which presented 58 works composed within the five years preceding the Rostrum. 35% of these works were by composers under the age of 30. Evert van Berkel, recording producer for P2 live at the Swedish Radio, chaired the sessions. After the listening sessions, the assembly of delegates selected and recommended the most distinctive works in two categories: general and “young composers under 30”. These and other works will be presented in concerts and broadcast after the Rostrum by the participating and other interested radio stations.

In the general category, brut (2014) for 11 instruments by Polish composer Artur Zagajewski (born 1978) was selected by the delegates as most outstanding. The work was presented by Polish Radio Programme 2.

Brut: a French word meaning raw, rough, unpolished, unworked, unpurified, primitive, primeval, brute…

“This piece was inspired by a fascination with Le Corbusier and brutalist architecture. I found it particularly interesting to combine this topic with the use of historical instruments, commonly associated with quite different canons of beauty. Brut was written on the initiative of the cellist Dominik Polonski.” (A. Zagajewski)

In the “young composers” category, the work selected as most worthy for worldwide broadcasting was Reachings for symphony orchestra (2014) by young Finnish composer Sebastian Hilli (born 1990). The composition was presented by Finnish Broadcasting Company.

“What interested me was the feeling born within us as we hear the music drawing closer. My approach to Reachings was that of being on a journey to somewhere without knowing where. It creates a feeling that the music is nearing its destination, but just as it reaches the point it is striving towards, it is suddenly drawn back or takes a new turn.” (Sebastian Hilli)

In addition to the selected works, 11 other works (see list further) were recommended for broadcasting and concert presentation after the Rostrum by the participating and other interested radio stations.

The results of this year’s Rostrum were announced at a press conference held at the Scarlatti Hall of the Bellini Conservatory on May 19th, preceded by an interview of Salvatore Sciarrino conducted by Sydney-based ABC radio music journalist Stephen Adams. Artur Zagajewski will receive a joint commission from Radio France and IMC while Sebastian Hilli will benefit from a special Rostrum+ commission and residence programme in Sweden offered by IMC and Swedish Radio.

During their stay in Palermo, Rostrum delegates had the possibility to enjoy a rich and diverse musical programme including performances of students and teachers of the Bellini Conservatory in a number of churches in the Loggia district.


Selected Work (General Category)

Artur Zagajewski (Poland/Pologne)                               brut


Recommended Works

Ramon Lazkano (France)                                                        Mugarri

Shei-Wei Lo (USA/Etats-Unis)                                               Madhye II

Christian Mason (United Kingdom/Royaume-Uni)         Open to Infinity: A Grain of Sand

Vittorio Montalti (Italy/Italie)                                                 Untitled n. 2

Kate Moore (Netherlands/Pays-Bas)                                      Fern

Onutė Narbutaitė (Lithuania/Lithuanie)                               Was there a Butterfly?

Elis Vesik (Estonia/Estonie)                                                      To become a tree

Gerhard E. Winkler (Austria/Autriche)                                 Anamorph IX UA (Frostblues zur Winterreise)

Daniel Zea (Switzerland/Suisse)                                             Pocket Enemy (Enemigo del Bolsillo)

Andreas Zhibaj (Sweden/Suède)                                              Viola Concerto “Ithaca”


Selected Work (Under-30Category)

Sebastian Hilli (Finland)                             Reachings


Recommended Works

Sergey Stroykin (Russia)                                                    Four Brief Scenes after Samuel Beckett

Szymon Stanisław Strzelec (Poland)                                          L’Atelier de sensorité