Seven is based on Second Still Life for oboe and harp, which Berkeley wrote for the 2007 Presteigne Festival. That work is founded in turn on a 'short and very spare' phrase which the composer remembered from his score for the 1986 feature film Captive . In the film it marked what the composer calls 'a moment of absolute but menacing tranquility'; but in its new context, stripped of narrative, the music loses any sense of menace and rejoices in a meditative purity. Seven is the result of Berkeley's feeling that he could elaborate the material further and use contrasting voices, while still retaining an utter simplicity. As for the title, the work is for seven players - well, six and a mystery seventh; it lasts seven minutes; and it plays with the juxtaposition of seven characters and the way they can inflect lines with their own colour and individuality. ((c) Anthony Burton 2007)
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Michael Berkeley was born in 1948. He studied composition, singing, and piano at the Royal Academy of Music but it was not until his late twenties, when he went to study with Richard Rodney Bennett, that Berkeley began to concentrate exclusively on composing. In 1977 he was awarded the Guinness Prize for Composition; two years later he was appointed Associate Composer to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Since then Michael's music has been played all over the globe and by some of the world's finest musicians. Most of Michael's significant orchestral work, much of his chamber music and his operas are available on CD as part of the Chandos Berkeley Edition. For ten years from 1995 Michael was artistic director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music. He currently presents Radio 3's Private Passions, which won the Broadcasting Press Guild's Radio Programme of the Year Award in 1996, and is Chairman of the Governors of The Royal Ballet.
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