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2004 International Rostrum of Composers 

The 51st International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) took place in Paris, June 7-11, 2004, organised by the International Music Council (IMC) in close collaboration with Radio France. 

UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura and IMC President Kifah Fakhouri had inaugurated this year’s session at a ceremony held at UNESCO on June 7th. Having pursued its mission to promote contemporary music creation through broadcasting for more than half a century, this annual event entered into a new phase of its development last year and has since become one of the most important "rendez-vous" for professional exchange between radio producers. Its initial objective remains fostering the exchange of performances of contemporary music between broadcasting organisations. For example works chosen at the preceding Rostrum (2003) were given some 500 broadcasts by participating networks and affiliates of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU); a number of works were also performed in public concerts.

Organised by the International Music Council(*) with the support of participating broadcasting organisations, the 51st International Rostrum of Composers gathered representatives from 29 national networks from four continents and presented 59 works composed within the five years preceding the Rostrum. CBC Executive Producer David Jaeger (Canada) chaired the sessions. After the listening sessions, the assembly of delegates selected and recommended the most important works in two categories: general and "young composers". These and other works will be presented in concerts and broadcast after the Rostrum by the participating and other interested radio stations.

In the general category, Sula (Thaw) (1999) for orchestra by Estonian composer Helena TULVE (born 1972) was selected by the delegates as most outstanding; Estonian Radio’s head of music Tiia Teder had presented it in a recording of a performance by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Toomas Vavilov. "Sula denotes the process of thawing, melting - the transformation of ideas, materials, timbres and sounds from one state to another. The composition was partly inspired by the rather topical notion of global warming, by this image of a colossal iceberg thawing up." (H.T.)

In the "young composers" category, two works were selected ex aequo as most worthy for worldwide broadcasting: "sens nacre" (The Sense of Nacre) (2004) for ensemble by the Latvian composer Santa Ratniece (born 1977); the work had been presented by Sandra Nedzvecka, Head of Music at Latvian Radio, in a recording of the premiere in Riga, April 2004, performed by Ensemble Nove and Altera Veritas. "A variety of tones from instruments unite to produce shades. Kokle melts with xylorimba, accordion softly reflects the sounds of oboe and clarinet. Percussions make it glitter like nacre and strings blend colours." (S. R.)

The second selected work in the young composers category is dissolve (2002) for harp, piano and percussion by Canadian composer Abigail Richardson (born 1976); Sandy Thacker from CBC had presented the work in a recording made at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, and featuring Sanya Eng, harp, Christopher Foley, piano, and Ryan Scott, percussion. "In this work, the instruments have an individual role at the beginning but gradually come together throughout the piece. […] The final pattern is the most unified of all, as the instruments rely on each other to contribute elements of the pattern in order to create a whole."

In addition to the selected works, ten other works were recommended for broadcasting by all participants as well as for presentation in concert (see list further).

As in the past, the European Broadcasting Union has lent its distribution, promotion and logistic assistance to the IREM. The event also benefitted from UNESCO support. On the occasion of the Rostrum, Radio France, the Finnish Cultural Institute in Paris and IMC staged a concert featuring the three piano sonatas by Pierre Boulez.

With a view to better responding to the professional concerns of the IRC delegates, two fora were organised at UNESCO, the first dealing with cultural diversity as applies to broadcasting new music and the second addressing the topic « The Internet is here to stay ».

The results of this year’s Rostrum were announced at a press conference held at the Maison de la Radio’s Centre d’accueil de presse étrangère (CAPE) on June 11th, during which the producers of the selected works were presented with the UNESCO Picasso-Miro medal; it was also awarded to Ms Tulve. The young composers selected will be receiving the "Guy Huot Bursary for Young Composers", named after the late Secretary General of the IMC who passed away in 2002.

As a result of the collaboration with Radio France, Sula (Thaw) by Helena Tulve, the selected work in the general category, will be programmed at Présences, the prestigious contemporary music festival organised annually by Radio France. Moreover, Radio France will pass commissions to the two selected composers in the "composers under 30" category (Santa Ratniece and Abigail Richardson); the commissioned works will be premiered at the 53rd International Rostrum of Composers to be held in Paris in 2006.

(*)The International Music Council is the world’s leading professional organisation dedicated to the development and the promotion of diverse music. It aims at contributing to the development and strengthening of friendly working relations between all the musical cultures of the world on the basis of their absolute equality, mutual respect and appreciation. It concerns itself with musical creativity, education, performance, broadcasting and promotion, research and documentation, the status of musicians and various other aspects of musical life. Founded in 1949 upon request of the Director General of UNESCO as the advisory body to the agency on musical matters, it is based at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris and functions as an independent international NGO maintaining a formal associate relationship with UNESCO.

The mission of IMC is to provide exceptional value to its membership by building knowledge, creating networking opportunities, supporting and enhancing the visibility of initiatives that help sustain people’s participation in music and cultural life.



Publication Date 17 Jun 2004
Author(s) IMC
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