NEW MUSIC TUESDAY | Composer Mark Simpson's New Violin Concerto

The concerto's premiere was live-streamed with violinist Nicola Benedetti and the London Symphony Orchestra on April 22, in London


Mark Simpson recently talked with The Violin Channel about his new work.

"About three years ago, I heard that the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) wanted me to write a piece. I knew instantly I wanted it to be the Violin Concerto for Nicola Bendetti," Mark Simpson told The Violin Channel.

"The LSO was keen, then we contacted Nicky and so was she. The scope and scale of the piece were therefore directly inspired by her, a musician who I hold in the highest regard, with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, the LSO. I knew that writing for this combination of stellar musicians was going to be a challenge, but I knew I would feel that I had to surpass myself in some way.

"For the piece itself, as with every other, the concerto went through various iterations before the structure presented itself in the current form. Originally, the opening material was much more hopeful and full of life. After the implications of the Covid pandemic started to manifest, in the various lockdowns and ever-rising death toll, I knew that the piece had to begin differently. My Violin Concerto is not a direct commentary on the pandemic, but it felt wrong not to acknowledge the pain and suffering people have been experiencing.

"The piece begins with a moment of stillness and reflection. We are then launched into a fast dance movement, a result of the huge amount of pent-up energy that had been building up inside me over the months during the lockdown. The third movement is in essence a love song, tinged with pain. The fourth movement is a cadenza, and the fifth is a devilish tarantella that morphs into the finale.

"There is a lot to take in with this piece. But I think the overriding thing that I want to communicate is my heart. If you have not been moved in some way, then I have not done my job properly."