The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Magnus Lindberg, will premiere Stef’s latest piece Calling the Night Gods on Wednesday 12th July, alongside works by Henry Purcell, James MacMillan and three other exciting young composers, Alex Paxton, Yvonne Eccles and Nathan Dearden.
The concert is part of the LPO ‘Debut Sounds’ series and takes place at St John’s Smith Square in London. The programme centres around Purcell’s Come, Ye Sons of Art, written in 1694 to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mary II of England, which was given as a creative springboard to inspire new works. Stef’s piece is a response to the evolution of ‘royal praise’ or regime-glorifying music throughout history. Fragments of Babylonian royal praise poems and ritual incantations form the backbone of the piece, casting the orchestra as a kind of shaman, calling on the ancient Mesopotamian gods, both to glorify their ruler, and to reveal to them the future. As the main incantation unfolds, it gives way to quotations from pieces of music that have been used throughout history to keep populations enthralled by their leaders; the quotations are fleeting at first and gradually become overwhelming, wrenching the piece towards its crushing conclusion. The future, from the perspective of the Babylonians, is indeed revealed, painting a bleak picture of the roll of music in propagandising on behalf of come of history’s most heinous tyrants.
Tickets are available now from the LPO website: BOOK ONLINE
You can also read a brief interview with Stef on the new piece here: READ NOW.
A video of Stef’s performance with the Lyre Ensemble at London’s Union Chapel last year is now available to watch online. Enjoy!
This February, Stef will be singing on BBC2’s ‘Great British Railway Journeys’ as part of the East Grinstead to Guildford episode, which sees presenter Michael Portillo visit Dorking’s Leith Hill Place, birthplace of Vaughan Williams and host to Stef’s frequent choral and folk singing workshops.
Stef will be performing her own piano and voice version of Vaughan Williams favourite folk song, Bushes and Briars, inspired by RVW’s choral arrangement of the same song.
Front page image: Sarah Naim
Stef’s newest composition ‘Face Painting’ will be premiered by the Dr K Sextet this February, as part of The Pierrot Project – a new exhibition of simultaneously visual and aural installations by pairs of contemporary artists and composers, drawing inspiration from Arnold Shoenberg’s seminal composition, ‘Pierrot Lunaire’.
Curated by Niamh White, the three composer-artist collaborations will be presented during an exhibition at The Display Gallery from 5 – 17 February 2016, with an opening night concert on Thursday 4th Feb.
Stef’s piece, conceived in collaboration with visual artist Jörg Obergfell, juxtaposes soundscapes evoking both laughter and melancholy laughter. The players will perform wearing Jörg‘s Pierrot-inspired abstract masks, which draw inspiration from both folk costumes and modernist aesthetics:
(Images: Jörg Obergfell)
Stef’s blog promoting the up-coming Lyre Ensemble performance at the Union Chapel, Islington, was featured in the Guardian Online today. Read the full article here.
A video of Stef singing her Sumerian Lullaby at the Lyre Ensemble album launch, at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, London, is now available to watch online. Enjoy!
Stef’s opera ‘People Watch’, written for Streetwise Opera with librettist Bill Bankes-Jones, premiered this summer on the opening night at Tête-à-Tête opera festival. The performers, most of whom have experienced homelessness, absolutely triumphed, provoking both laughter and tears among the sold-out crowd. Critics praised the piece for its “rousing chorus of hope” (The Stage), “stunning works of composition” (The Big Issue), and “Celtic harmonies” with “shivering, spiky string effects” (Bachtrack).
You can watch the full opera online here: http://www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/peoplewatch/
‘The Flood’, the debut album by the Lyre Ensemble, is now available to buy on CD, complete with full translations, and ships anywhere in the world. The music is also available to download on amazon.
The Flood is the first full-length album of cutting-edge new music in ancient Babylonian and Sumerian languages. Accompanied by the reconstructed 4500-year-old Gold Lyre of Ur, Stef’s sung Mesopotamian poetry oozes, swoops, lurches and wails its way from gentle incantations for baby quietening and poems in praise of mothers to the snarling curses of dying monsters and deathly threats of an enraged Goddess!