An award winning composer, whose works have been described as ‘evocative’ ‘obsessive’ and ‘otherworldly’ Ben Lunn is a composer who tries to draw upon his own political, spiritual, personal, and ideological worldview within his works. He has had the pleasure of working with ensembles like OeNM, Music Theatre Wales, Ensemble Synaethesis, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Soloists and he has featured in international festivals like TCML, Vale of Glamorgan, Crossroads, and Occupy the Pianos.
What drew you to a career in music?
I grew up playing in Brass bands, particularly feeling at home in colliery bands. Around my late teens I started to find I had a bit of a knack for composing, I was particularly intrigued by the imagination of Berlioz and Ligeti, so from there I tried to explore everything I could. What really awoken the idea of being a composer was encountering the music of Radulescu, Feldman, and Scelsi. I was fortunate enough to get into RWCMD for my bachelor’s and I started studying with Peter Reynolds, and as they say the rest is history.
How would you describe your work?
It is always hard to say what I sound like, but I can easily point out what is driving me currently. Since coming back to Britain, I have been particularly eager to explore that notion of identity and nationality. While studying in Vilnius, the question of national identity and ‘Lithuanian sound’ were and are still very common. But I know I do not fit to the international stereotype of British/English because it has rarely had working class lads define the stereotype or the nation. So I am eager to find ways of connecting to that working class history of Britain, like the Red Clyde, Merthyr Rising, Tolpuddle Martyrs, Luddites, Charterism, Peterloo and so on. I am also eager to just connect on that universal level of solidarity amongst my class. Its hard to say how this is done musically but it is there, increasingly so.
What positive and negative aspects have you found lockdown has had on your work?
Personally, not too much has changed, my work is quite reclusive so there are many days hiding indoors normally. However, it has been sad seeing the number of things having to be dropped by the wayside. However, as a result two things have been able to take centre stage for me. Firstly, I have had plenty of time to dedicate to a new work for Royal Northern Sinfonia. Secondly, I have had ample time to read which is feeding my work for my upcoming stay at the Cosy Nook thanks to the Britten Pears Foundation. This new piece is going to be quite a daring work for piano quartet and chamber orchestra, which I am writing for my dear friends in Latvia.
Ben was an award winner at this year’s Scottish Awards for New Music.
Diversions was the result of a unique collaboration between Drake Music Scotland, Hebrides Ensemble and the Queen’s Hall, aimed at addressing some of the barriers facing autistic or neurodivergent people who want to attend live music events.
Ben curated the event, which was inspired by the idea that autism-friendly programming should “change the space, not the content”, proving that artistic integrity and accessibility are not mutually exclusive.
Diversions won the ISM Prize for Collaboration as well as the RCS Award for Making it Happen.
Find out more about the Scottish Awards for New Music here.
Listen to Ben’s piece Symphonies For Instruments (2019) below.
Listen to Ben’s recent work for cello and electronics, performed by Georgina Aasgaard:
In November just passed my recent work will we… was premiered. This work for cello and electronics was premiered in the Imperial War Museum North in Salford, and in short tried to come to terms to this global revision of history we are witnessing. The title, is a simple rebuttal to the famous Remembrance Sunday declaration ‘we will remember them!’ do we really remember them? Or just remember those who conveniently support our ideology? Do we remember all of them? Do we honour all of the efforts to remove the stain of Fascism from our globe?
(Ben Lunn, 2019)
The score for this piece is available from the SMC shop.
Keep up to date with Ben’s work via his website
Follow Ben’s Twitter Page
His music has been described as ‘Evocative’, ‘Restrained Otherwordliness’, ‘Chilling’, ‘sophisticated and most importantly obsessive’ or ‘produces…glorious roaring sounds’ and ‘desolate monotone’. He has also been referred to as a ‘Composer of life music’.
Ben Lunn is a Mackem composer who studied in Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under the guidance of Peter Reynolds, as well as studying in the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre with Marius Baranauskas. Since graduating from his master’s, he now resides in Glasgow working in various elements including conducting, musicology, teaching and composing.
His work has been featured in many leading international festivals including Vale of Glamorgan, London New Wind Festival, Druskomanija, Leeds Leider+, Zilele Muzicale Aniversare, HASS FEST, Toronto Contemporary Music Lab, and Occupy the Pianos. He has had the privilege of working with leading international ensembles like N.A.M.E.S, Sofia Soloists, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Synaesthesis, Music Theatre Wales, Ligeti Quartet, OeNM, JVLMA, and Jauna Muzika.
As musicologist, his specialities focus around Baltic Music, Horaţiu Rădulescu, and Composing and Disability. He has had the honour of lecturing in some of the world’s leading academic institutions including Fordham University, Mozarteum, RWCMD, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Komitas Conservatory, and Amsterdam Conservatoire. His articles have been published in Germany, UK, US, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and collected by the Arvo Pärt Centre. He has also delivered written work for the Music Information Centre of Lithuania and Latvia.
Currently he has been made an associate artist for Drake Music. And in October he was appointed Trainee Artistic Director of the Hebrides Ensemble.
June 2018 – Premiere of BLOC a work commissioned and workshopped in the Toronto Contemporary Music Lab
April 2018 – Premiere of T4 a work dedicated to victims of Aktion T-4 and Tory Austerity. Commissioned by Drake Music and Brighter Sound, in partnership with Help Musicians UK and London Philharmonic Orchestra
November 2017 – Premiere performance of Vinapa by JVLMA Ensemble, Premiere performance of Skygoer by ÖeNM both featured as part of Crossroads Festival 2017, Salzburg.
October 2017 – Premiere performance of Three Songs D’Amore for Flute D’amore, performed by Carla Rees, in Iklectic Lab, London.
July 2017 – Performance of ‘…of Aryadeva’ in Kintu Festivalis
May 2017 – Performance and recording of Contemplation Without… by Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and Robertas Servenikas
March 2017 – Premiere of Dances and Ballades for Piano by Diana Kacialova
November 2016 – World Premiere of In Nomine by Ensemble Synaesthesis in Salzburg
October 2016 – British Premiere of Symphony No. 6 ‘Palestine’ in the London New Wind Festival
September 2016 – Premiere of Piano Sonata No. 2
July 2016 – The World premiere of ‘For Garik’ as part of the inaugural Hearing Art Seeing Sound Festival 2016.
June 2016 – Finalist in the Vox Juventutis 2016 competition, where ‘In the Rose Apple Grove’ was premiered.
May 2016 – Three works premiered in Vienna by Duettissimo, After Basho, Delta of Venus, and The Hidden and Immobile Dance.
April 2016 – World premiere of ‘Luminous Path to Liberation’ an oratorio, premiered as part of the Sunday Music Brunch Series in AccoAkademija 2016
March 2016 – World Premiere of ‘The Gateless Gate…’ for piano quartet, by the Artro Quartet
September 2015 – Sofia International Composition Competition prize giving, premiere of ‘Sangye’ performed by Nicolai Matsov under the baton of Plamen Djouroff.
May 2015 – Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Françoise-Green Duo performance of ‘The Horror and Ecstasy of Life’
February 2015 – Workshop of Symphony No. 2 ‘Oboe’ as part of the final of the Boulogne-Billancourt composition prize
October 2014 – Premiere of ‘A Letter to a Dying Man’ performed by Adam Jondelius, Alex Stead, RWCMD Strings under the baton of Tianyi Liu.
August 2014 – St. Christopher’s Festival, Vilnius. Premiere of ‘Stravinskio Sapnas’ and premiere of ‘Asis-Taktas’
June 2014 – St. John Smith Square, Occupy the Pianos. Premiere of ‘The Horror and the Ecstasy of Life’ by Rolf Hind and Zubin Kanga.
May 2014 – Atmospheres Festival. Premiere of ‘Bhava’ performed by members of RWCMD. Subsequently the work was awarded the RWCMD Composition Prize.
Upcoming Performances and Projects
Ben Lunn currently is working towards a commission with the National Open Youth Orchestra in Bristol for a large work for flexible instrumentation to be used by musicians using assisted music technology, traditional instruments, and various notational methods like FigureNotes. He also is working on a small work for string quartet especially for the Ligeti Quartet.
Ben is also in the process of preparing for grant applications to aid the creation of a collection of works which will explore disability and the wider social impact.
Other upcoming projects include a cycle for signer and piano, a large scale piece for Charles Hazelwood and the ParaOrchestra, as well as projects with DaDa Fest.
‘…but the results, as so often with this composer, were hypnotically beautiful in their effect’
http://seenandheard-international.com/…/three-world-premie…/ – Paul Corfield Godfrey
‘Clearly, he has been moved by them, and the larger wisdom they represent, to urge his audience to greater awareness of matters spiritual, ancient and modern. The result is a work that is as heartfelt as it is thoughtful, and which signals an interesting turn to a more tonal language for its composer…..’ http://www.walesartsreview.org/atmospheres-new-music-festi…/ – Steph Powers
‘I attended six events during the day during a period of nine hours, and the major score was undoubtedly the première of Ben Lunn’s one-hour oratorio Bhava’
http://seenandheard-international.com/…/a-wide-range-of-n…/… – Paul Corfield Godfrey