In May 2012 Asko|Schönberg celebrates Oliver Knussen’s sixtieth birthday. A regular guest with the ensemble for many years, the composer-conductor will present various short works. The listener can count on haute couture of finely woven tonal textures and robust fabrics of sound, all of this dressed up in virtuosically combined washes of timbres and colours.
A former student of Knussen, Rob Zuidam composed his McGonagall-Lieder to texts by a nineteenth-century Scottish textile weaver with literary ambitions. The limping verses of ‘England’s only memorable bad poet’ – in the words of a literary critic of The Times – inspired Zuidam to compose a dramatic song cycle that includes both a jazzy perpetuum mobile and a warbling coloratura to a stuttering motor rhythm.