”In these bleak times for music and the arts, I am delighted to receive this honour. It means a great deal to me that creativity, and the role of the creator in society, have been recognised as important to all of us, and vital to the wellbeing of a healthy society. I would also like to acknowledge the support and inspiration I have received along the way, in particular from my family: my brothers, my children, and their father Robert Irvine, and my husband Peter Thomson. I would also like to mention my mother, who, by example and encouragement, gave me the confidence never to doubt that a girl could be a composer. Further thanks are due to my son Tom Irvine, himself a composer, who gives me practical support on a daily basis; and also to Dr Gerry Mattock, who has commissioned work from me for over 20 years, and of course all the superb musicians with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. Last but not least, I’m extremely grateful to The Scottish Music Centre, BIS Records and my publishers: Norsk Musikforlag and Edition Peters. ”
A composer from the age of 4, and a professional viola player, Beamish’s contribution to international musical life has been extraordinary. Working routinely with the world’s greatest musicians, her large body of work encompasses both the epic and the intimate – from great orchestral landscapes, or evening – length music drama, to poetic miniatures for solo instruments. Her music is celebrated for its direct expressiveness, lyrical beauty and emotional power. Beamish makes connections between disparate voices, working regularly with the most eminent musicians in jazz and folk music, and creating sincere and moving work for young and amateur musicians. While living in Scotland, her base for nearly 30 years, she collaborated in innovative projects with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Alasdair Nicolson.
Her work for three pianists and two pianos will be premiered in Autumn 2021 at the New Ross and London Piano Festivals. With pianist Nancy Cooley, she will premiere her own ‘Night Songs’ for viola and piano in Brighton in January – one of many works commissioned by her long – standing patron, Dr Gerry Mattock.
Throughout the lockdown she has composed solo and chamber pieces to support musicians , for instance for Sound World; and “The Parting Glass” for solo clarinet, which will be premiered in Florence in November.
Future projects include a second ballet with choreographer Sir David Bintley, and continuing work with saxophonist Branford Marsalis.