Steve Martland (1954–2013, England). He curated the Factory Classical label of Factory Records, featuring contemporary British composers. Martland was born in Liverpool, and studied composition at Liverpool University and in the Netherlands with Louis Andriessen. He worked almost exclusively with artists outside classical institutions—Dutch and American groups, freelance musicians and especially his own Steve Martland Band which tours his music internationally. He also worked with the King’s Singers and Evelyn Glennie for whom he wrote Street Songs. Martland was composer in residence at the ETNA Music Festival in Sicily in 2006 and 2007. His music was published by Schott Music.
Usually amplified, muscular and powerfully rhythmic, his music was extensively choreographed: Dance Works commissioned and premièred by London Contemporary Dance Theatre has received many new productions around the world, and Remix was awarded the SACD Prize for Video Dance Choreography Music after being choreographed for BBC TV by Aletta Collins.
His Principia was adopted as the theme music for the BBC radio programme The Music Machine. Dance Works is also used as the title music for a Dutch TV programme. He also wrote and directed A Temporary Arrangement with the Sea, a film about Louis Andriessen. In August 1998 he collaborated with the band Spiritualized on a project for the Flux Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Martland’s preoccupation with the function of the composer in society was reflected in his commitment to music education. He believed in the educational impact of creativity: “Creativity is everything that is against what’s going on in the world right now. It’s to do with tolerance and understanding other people.” Martland directed many composition projects in schools both at home and abroad and he initiated and ran for many years Strike Out, his own annual composition course for school children.
In 2015, composer Tim Benjamin founded the Steve Martland Scholarship for young composers at the Sound and Music Summer School, in honour of his former mentor.
Dance works is one of the works of Steve Martland which shows an idiosyncratic minimalism that links rock music energies with the idiom of gradual development.
Exhilarating and celebratory, the rhythmic demands and physicality of Dance Works share roots with rock, jazz, and even the dynamic syncopations of medieval dance music. Steve Martland collaborated with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Aletta Collins’ original choreography centred around a single dancer’s vain attempts to join a larger group. While the music deliberately avoids any narrative elements, dramatic tension is created through simultaneous dissonant and consonant harmony. Originally scored for the Steve Martland Band, Martland later made an arrangement of Dance Works for two pianos. This smaller version retains all the rhythmic power of the original but opens up new possibilities for small-scale or touring dance companies.