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Royal Academy of Music Masters students to perform at The Hepworth Wakefield

20 Mar 2019

On Saturday 23 March, Royal Academy of Music Masters students will perform a series of new short pieces at The Hepworth Wakefield specially created in response to Barbara Hepworth’s work. The performance is the culmination of a six-month project researching the collection and personal library of Barbara Hepworth in Wakefield and at the archives at Tate Britain in London.

The project grew out of a seminar given by author and art historian Michael Bird at the Royal Academy of Music on the subject of rhythm in the visual arts. Bird commented: ‘Barbara Hepworth seemed like the natural focus for a project, because of the many ways in which her sculpture, life and thought are permeated by musical ideas. She spoke of the sound world in which a stone-carving sculptor lives, with the ringing rhythm of the chisel, and of how a sculptor’s work echoes the shaping of landscape by natural forces. She collaborated with musicians like Michael Tippett and Priaulx Rainier. Hepworth told her friend Rainier that you should be able to ‘hear’ a sculpture in the same way as you feel a piece of music. I like to imagine that audiences at The Hepworth Wakefield on 23 March, when the six new pieces will be premiered by a group of very talented young musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, will experience both these things, just as Hepworth describes.’

The six new compositions will be performed in the galleries of The Hepworth Wakefield by Royal Academy musicians throughout the day on 23 March, starting at 11am. The compositions were designed to be played by instruments that can be performed whilst on the move and will be assessed as part of the students’ end of year portfolio submissions.

Entrance to The Hepworth Wakefield is free.

Phil Cashian, Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, said: ‘It has been a real pleasure to work with The Hepworth Wakefield on this project. They have given our composition students such special access and insight into Barbara Hepworth’s work, life and personal surroundings, which has inspired very different and distinctive musical responses from the six young composers. It is an incredible opportunity for our composition students to have their work performed to a live audience in such an esteemed gallery. The experience has made them really focus on making sure what they have written actually works as a live performance.’

Nicola Freeman, Director of Engagement & Learning at The Hepworth Wakefield, said: ‘We were delighted to work with the Royal Academy of Music on this innovative project. Inspiring creativity is central to everything we do at The Hepworth, and we have been so impressed by the students’ thoughtful engagement with Barbara Hepworth’s work and working processes. We hope audiences will be as surprised and captivated as we are by their responses, which shed new light on our collection displays.’