Sally Beamish’s “Reed Stanzas” is shortlisted for the RPS Music Award for Chamber-Scale Composition We are delighted to announce that Sally Beamish’s Reed Stanzas (String Quartet No.3) has been shortlisted for the RPS Music Award for Chamber-Scale Composition in memory of Tony Fell.

Sally Beamish said: “I am thrilled that this piece has been selected for the shortlist. It was a huge pleasure for me to have the chance to work with the Elias Quartet, and their special blend of sensitivity and power had a lot to do with its conception. And, of course, Donald Grant's exceptional skills as a traditional fiddler.”

Reed Stanzas was written for the Elias String Quartet and was commissioned by BBC Radio 3. It was first performed on July 25th, 2011 in the Cadogan Hall, London, by the Elias String Quartet, as part of the BBC Proms Chamber Music Series.

Written on the island of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, Sally found herself surrounded by the sounds of birds: “ I was just putting them straight onto the page. This piece is full of birds.” She was also listening to Britten’s quartets in between working. These works reminded her of her former life as a viola player, and the wind blowing through the reed beds at Snape; a very different, but equally windswept, salt-scented wilderness.

Reed Stanzas takes the form of variations on a Celtic-inspired theme announced by the second violin, which opens and closes the work in the manner of Pibroch (the classical music of the Highland bagpipe). Sally has explored the intricate ornamentation used in Pibroch, highlighting its similarities to birdsong, and to Arabic reed flute (ney) playing. The piece also refers to the multiple reeds of the accordion (these days made of metal) – an instrument used in traditional music of many cultures. The idea of the loneliness and vastness of landscape underpins the quartet, while each variation, or ‘stanza’, has its own metre and mood.

To quote the Scotsman: “Sally Beamish’s new composition for the Elias Quartet invokes sounds of nature and the symbolism of reeds, contrasting plaintive fiddle with the other three players….prepare to be blown away!”

The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations. The list of previous winners reads like a Who’s Who of classical music. This year’s RPS Music Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in 2011.

A feature flagging up the shortlists for this year’s RPS Music Awards was broadcast on In Tune on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 17 April at 4.30pm and the RPS Music Award winners will be announced at an awards dinner on Tuesday 8 May.

For further information please contact: Jo Carpenter Music PR Consultancy Tel: 07771 538868