New work creates a Big Bang for Nimrod
Composer Nimrod Borenstein is excited to see how his work will be showcased by The Philharmonia Orchestra, as Nigel Powlson discovered.
MUSIC and science may seem like strange bedfellows but composer Nimrod Borenstein has always been just as happy with both disciplines.
A gifted maths pupil as a child, he has grown up believing that there's a symmetry between science and music, which is one of the reasons he's brought the two together in The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe.
Written in 2009, it will be performed at De Montfort Hall on February 23 with Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting The Philharmonia Orchestra.
The work was commissioned in honour of philanthropist Zvi Meitar's 75th birthday and is an orchestral piece with three contrasting movements: moderate (Light), slow (Peace) and fast (Adam and Eve).
"The Big Bang and Creation are fascinating subjects for an artist," Nimrod says. "At the start, a piece of music comes from nothing – so it's fitting."
Born in Tel Aviv, Nimrod grew up in Paris before settling in London.
"As a child I always loved maths and science," he says. "At the age of 13, I gave some lessons in A Level maths to my piano teacher's daughter in order to get free tuition. I was not sure whether I wanted to be a mathematician or a composer. I started composing at six and for me it's a bit like mathematics, as both stretch your intellect."
In fact, Nimrod has given a lecture at the Royal Institution in London about the connections between scientific method and how you compose music. He says: "The way you work on your inspiration is the same whether you are a composer or a scientist. It's very analytical. You work to find out what's wrong and then try to correct it."
The 60 works Nimrod has already composed range from vocal, orchestral and chamber music to solo instrument pieces and have been performed and lauded worldwide.
His Shell Adagio has been played more than 30 times by 16 different orchestras including a concert at Carnegie Hall.
A great champion of his work has been Vladimar Ashkenazy.
Nimrod says: "I am very touched by his support because he is one of my idols. From the age of 10 I have owned all his recordings as a pianist.
"A few years ago I arranged to meet him and he said he was very busy and could only give me a few minutes. I brought some recordings and he listened to the first piece and then asked to hear more. He listened for more than hour and it all started from there.
"He's a very special man as well as a talented musician."
"I'm now excited to see what he and one of the best orchestras in the world make of my music in Leicester."
Nimrod is also pleased that The Philharmonia is giving new work a chance.
He says: "It has never been an easy life being an artist in any art form. The financial situation makes it hard for arts organisation to survive and they become cautious in their programming. But I can't blame audiences, as they know 99 per cent of new work isn't going to be good. What's left for history are the few that are good. The public is conscious of that. So you shouldn't have concerts of all new music."
In Leicester, Nimrod's piece will share the programme with popular works by Mozart (Piano Concerto No. 21) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). He says: "It's important for me to hear my music alongside the great composers and see the reaction of the audience.
"If people are still listening after Brahms or Beethoven, that's the biggest boost of confidence you can have."