New Music Biennial 2017 – Anna Meredith’s ‘Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra’

Anna Meredith’s Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra at #NMB17 was a revelation. Meredith’s work is a joyous and immersive thing; the composer and producer is a creative beacon.

Seven years after its commission by the Southbank Centre, Anna Meredith’s Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra received a second (and third) performance at SE1, the first concert in the New Music Biennial 2017 – the weekend-long celebration of ‘new and nearly new music’.

Meredith’s music is a mesmerising mix of rhythmic and textural geekery. Running at fifteen minutes, the composer fuses the spectacle of beatboxing with an orchestral accompaniment that imitates, approximates, and celebrates the talent the concerto spotlights.

Beatboxer is, as you’d expect, riven with an irresistible pulse right the way through. Heads bobbed and feet tapped in the Clore Ballroom as the hypnotic beat, supported by electrifying demonstrations of vocal dexterity from the four beatboxers on stage, thrilled the audience.

We marvelled, oohing and aahing at the soloists visceral art. Sublime moments of exoticism giving us permission for a spot of self-reflection on a hot summer’s evening.

Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra is a technically demanding piece for everyone on stage, and hugely satisfying for audience and musician alike – the looks on the faces of the Southbank Sinfonia made that clear to all.

Anna Meredith never disappoints. Hers are riveting composition, creations that make her and her work appointments to listen.

The performance jostled with the busy-ness of the Festival Hall bar too, adding a special buzz to proceedings. Anna Meredith and her contemporaries keep places like Southbank alive. Gratitude and pride aren’t sought, but they’re surely deserved.

The New Music Biennial 2017, supported by PRS Foundation, runs until Sunday 9 July. All events are free, some require tickets from the box office.

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