Sally Beamish to receive an OBE
Sally Beamish is to receive an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to music.
The honour celebrates a career of distinction, and a musician of faultless craft, endless creativity and immense human compassion.
Sally Beamish said: ”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.
Highlighting the esteem in which she is held by the world’s leading virtuoso soloists, Beamish has composed a notable body of concertante work for soloists with orchestra. She has written more than 20 concertos for outstanding soloists, including three each for piano and viola. Her most recent concerto, ‘Distans,’ is written for violinist Janine Jansen and clarinettist Martin Fröst. It is a co-commission from The Concertgebouworkest, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra, and will be premiered in Amsterdam in April 2021.
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 https://sound-world.org/; 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.
Following her recent marriage to playwright and director Peter Thomson, the dramatic thread always present in her music has intensified, and they are embarking on several projects together, including a piece for amateur singers commissioned by Quaker Concern for the Abolition of Torture. A Quaker herself, her work often reflects deeply held political and social views – for instance ‘Knotgrass Elegy’ – a protest against intensive farming, which was premiered at the BBC Proms in 2001. Her oratorio Equal Voices, commissioned by the LSO and RSNO, was set to a text by Sir Andrew Motion, and reflects Beamish’s long-held pacifist beliefs. She has worked with many writers, including David Harsent, Melanie Reid and Janice Galloway, and artists, including Jila Peacock and Graham Fagen.
Sally Beamish’s music has been extensively recorded on the Swedish BIS label, and can be found here: https://bis.se/composer/beamish-sally/ Katie Tearle, MBE, at Edition Peters, commented
This honour for composer Sally Beamish is so well deserved. Sally’s compositions are loved by audiences and performers – she makes connections between places and people with music of such sensitivity and imagination on all scales from full-length ballets to solo works. We are proud to represent and publish her work.
Sally Beamish biography: https://www.sallybeamish.com/biography
Sally Beamish photos: https://www.sallybeamish.com/gallery
Sally Beamish videos: https://www.sallybeamish.com/videos
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Notes for Editors
Official publication of the List is in the Government’s “paper of record”, the London Gazette. The Gazette is not available in shops. It can be accessed online at www.thegazette.co.uk. Copies can be purchased by ringing 0333 200 2434. The List is also usually published in several broadsheet national newspapers. You can view the List on www.GOV.UK from 22:30 on Friday 9 October 2020
Sally Beamish – Previous Awards
Paul Hamlyn Foundation 1994
Creative Scotland Award 2000
Honorary Doctorate University of Glasgow 2001
Royal Philharmonic Society Award 2011
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2015
Award for Inspiration: Ivors Academy 2018