Saunders, Rebecca

Born in London in 1967, she studied violin playing and composition in Edinburgh before continuing her composition studies in the class of Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe in 1991–94.

Her compositions have been recognised with numerous prestigious international awards, including the 2019 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize (following the F√∂rderpreis in 1996), ARD und BMW musicaviva Prize, Paul Hindemith Prize, Royal Philharmonic Society Awards for Stirrings Still in 2008 and Fletch in 2013, BASCA British Composer Awards for Solitude in 2013, Alba in 2016, and Unbreathed in 2018, and the GEMA Music Prize for Instrumental Music. In 2015, Saunders received the Hans und Gertrud Zender Foundation Prize and the prestigious Mauricio Kagel Music Prize, and both a BASCA Composer Award and an RPS Award for Skin in 2017. 

Since 2009 she has been member of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, and since 2013 also of the Saxon Academy of the Arts in Dresden. In the 2009/10 concert season, she was composer-in-residence at the Staatskapelle in Dresden and the Huddersfield Festival. She has taught composition at the Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt (2010 and 2012), Impuls Composition Academy in Graz (2011, 2013), Music Days in Ostrava and Schloss Solitude Summer Academy (2015). In 2012–14 she has also lectured at the High School of Music, Theatre and Media in Hanover. 

Her output includes two distinct categories: solo instrumental compositions and works for concertante instruments with accompanying orchestra or ensemble. Since 2003 Saunders has mostly been writing spatial compositions. chroma I–XX(2003–17), Stasis and Stasis Kollektiv (2011–16) are expanding spatial collages of up to twenty-five chamber groups and sound sources set in radically different architectural spaces. Her latest works are delicate collages, exploring the opportunities created by positioning musicians through space. Most recently in 2017, Yes, an expansive 80-minute spatial installation composition, was written for Musikfabrik, Donatienne Michel-Dansac and Enno Poppe for the extraordinary architectural spaces of the Berlin Philharmonic and the St Eustache Cathedral in Paris. 

Selected works: Behind the Velvet Curtain for trumpet, piano, harp and cello (1991), the under-side of green for clarinet, violin and piano (1994), Mirror, mirror on the wall for piano (1994), Crimson – Molly’s Song 1 for 12 soloists, metronomes, whistles and three music boxes (1995), G and E on A for orchestra and 27 music boxes (1996–97), String Quartet (1997), Duo for violin and piano (1996–99), cinnabar, double concerto for violin, trumpet, ensemble and 11 music boxes (1999), Duo 3 for violin and percussion (1999–2001), Duo four – two exposures, double concerto for trumpet, percussion and orchestra (2000), albescere for five voices and 12 instruments (2001), insideout, music for a choreographic installation (with Sasha Waltz, 2003), vermilion for clarinet, electric guitar and cello (2003), chroma I–X for several chamber groups and sound objects (2003–8), crimson for piano (2003–5), blaauw for double trumpet (2004), miniata for piano, accordion, choir and orchestra (2004), choler for two pianos (2004), rubricare for string orchestra and Baroque organ (2005), fury for double bass (2005), Blue and Gray for double bass (2005), a visible trace for 11 soloists and conductor (2006), Stirrings Still for five performers (2006), traces for chamber orchestra (2006), Soliloquy for six voices (2007), company for five soloists (2007–8), Murmurs, collage for 10 performers (2009), to and fro for violin and oboe (2010), Stratum for orchestra (2010), dialogue for viola and percussion (2011), Neither for two trumpets (2011), Stasis, spatial collage for 16 musicians (2011), Still for violin and orchestra (2011), Stirrings for nine musicians (2011), Fletch for string quartet (2012), Ire for cello, strings and percussion (2012), ...of waters making moan for accordion (2013), Solitude for cello (2013), Void for percussion duo and orchestra (2013–14), Alba for trumpet and orchestra (2014), Six for AK for two percussionists, two pianists, guitar and harp (2015), Aether for two bass clarinets (2014–16), Skinfor soprano and 13 instruments (2015–16), White for double trumpet (2015–16), Yes, spatial composition for soprano and ensemble (2016–17), for soprano (2017), Bite for flute (2016), Unbreathed for string quartet (2017), dust for violin and piano (2017–18), Flesh for accordion (2018), Metal Bottle Necks for electric guitar (2018), Sole, trio for accordion, percussion and piano (2018).