One of the UK’s leading contemporary string quartets, The Ligeti Quartet will premiere Stef’s new piece Singing Strings – A Contemporary Quartet in Conversation on Wednesday 26th October at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. The innovative programme Remembering the Future explores connections between music for strings, past, present and future and also includes works by Stravinsky, Bach, Webern, Gubaidulina and Haas. Stef’s Singing Strings is part contemporary string quartet, part theatre piece, part essay about the contemporary string quartet, part stream of consciousness rant and part children’s entertainment… if for no other reason, come along and enjoy the novelty of some of the finest contemporary classical performers on the scene shouting “PLINKY PLONK MUSIC!!” at each other during their performance!

Following the premiere, the quartet will perform the piece in London, Bristol and Dorchester. Full details of the tour are available on the Ligeti Quartet website.

You can buy tickets for the Cambridge performance HERE.

Stef is hugely excited to be re-forming Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (previous incarnation of the amazing Northumbrian folk group The Unthanks) for one day only on Sunday 17th September, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the band’s Mercury-nominated album The Bairns.

On stage with Rachel and Becky Unthank, Australian Womad 2009

Stef will be joining Niopha Keegan, Rachel and Becky Unthank and Adrian McNally to perform the acclaimed album as part of their Home Gathering Festival, alongside other top notch artists, including The Unthanks (in their modern form!), Joan as Policewoman, Lisa Knapp and Beth Orton. You can book tickets HERE to hear Stef playing songs that utterly changed her approach to music-making, for the first (and probably the last) time, since 2009…

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.

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 Projecta 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) mask 1mask 2

This Christmas, Stef Conner’s Timeline Songs presents two very special concerts celebrating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. The programmes weave together music from the time of the Angevin Kings and the early Plantagenets, folk songs telling stories the of history’s greatest tyrants, King John and King Herod, Christmas carols and new arrangements of well-known protest songs that champion humankind’s hard-won freedoms.

The first performance, on Saturday 28th November, sees the return of Leith Hill Timeline Choir to at St. Michael and All Angels, Mickleham, following their debut Christmas Concert in 2014. The choir will also perform a short excerpt from the 16th century mystery play, The Shearmen and Tailors’ Pageant, which includes the famous ‘Coventry Carol’.

The second performance, on Saturday 5th December at St Mary’s, Barnes (London) features soloists Susannah Austin and Lisa J Coates, who will be joined by members of Leith Hill Timeline Choir for several songs.

Music and history fans are also invited to join Stef for singing workshops before each concert, in which they will be introduced to the music of the troubadours, including ‘Ja Nus Hons Pris’, a song in Old French by King Richard the Lionheart! No previous singing experience is required and all are welcome.

Book your tickets here!

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: