An Unexpected Light Rusnė Mataitytė

December 2016

Rusnė Mataitytė performs Songs for Rusnė in London

I am very thrilled indeed that the wonderful Lithuanian violinist Rusnė Mataitytė is performing Songs for Rusnė at All Saints Church, Notting Hill on 7 December 2016 at 7pm. Also known as Seven Lithuanian Folksongs, the piece is based on songs taken from a recording of performances compiled by Genovaite Cetkauskaite in early 2001 (Autentiska Lietuviu Liaudies Muzika, Juosta Records 006). My settings reflect particular interpretations by the singers, trying to capture something of the vocal qualities of each performer rather than just the tune itself. The songs were recorded in villages across Lithuania between 1965 (eg. Oi, toli toli) and 1984 (eg. Vativoolo, oolo) and represent the range of traditional musics thriving in the country until very recently. The pieces are dedicated to Rusne Mataityte as thanks for her wonderful performance of my violin concerto, An Unexpected Light, in 2004. The work received its premiere in 2005 in the Symphony Hall, Vilnius and is recorded on NMC.

I. Oi, toli toli
Oh, far far away (South Aukstaitija)
Oh, far far away is my old mother: a hundred miles away, across blue seas, across green forests. I shall swim like a duckling; I shall fly like a cuckoo. Over my father's farm I shall rise like the sun, to sit at the white tables, to talk with my dear mother. (A song performed by a bride after her wedding.)

II & III. Vativoolo, oolo (Western Aukstaitija)
There is Jonas on the hill, cows around him.
O ginali ginali (Zemaitija)
Come, little shepherd, and drive the cows. Here the grass is fresh and fragrant. (Two Oliavimai - shepherd's songs and exclamations meant to wake up or call other shepherds)

IV. Pute vejas
The wind has blown (South Aukstaitija)
The wind has blown onto one oak tree. Don't you wind blow onto the oak, for this tree cannot blow back, cannot swing back its branches. Father has scolded his son. Don't you father scold your son, for he cannot retort, cannot say a word. (A harvesting song.)

V. A-a, a-a, mazulyte
Ah, ah, the little one (South Aukstaitija)
A-a, a-a, the little one, the pretty one, my dear daughter. (A lullaby.)

VI . Saulala motula
Dear Mother Sun (South Aukstaitija)
Dear mother sun, fire up. We are little shepherds; we are so cold here on the pasture. (A song sung in the rain when driving animals back home.)

VII. Us, birrr,telek (East Aukstaitija)
Us, birrr, piggies home. Here comes the rain. (Sung by a swineherd in the rain when driving animals home.)

As a soloist Rusnė has performed in Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Yugoslavia and Greece. Prominent contemporary Lithuanian composers Algirdas Martinaitis, Osvaldas Balakauskas and British composer Sadie Harrison have written violin concertos dedicated to Rusnė, which she premiered with the Lithuanian National Symphony and St. Christopherus Chamber Orchestras. She has also recorded violin concertos by Raminta Šerkšnytė and Feliksas Bajoras.

Rusnė has appeared at the Newbury and Aldeburgh Festivals in Great Britain, Europa Musicale in Germany and gave concerts at the Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall) in New York and St.John's Smith Square in London. Her CD recordings have been released by Proud Sound (UK), ASV(UK), NMC(UK), BIS (Sweden), Naxos (Germany) , LMS and LMIPC (Lithuania). Since 1997 R.Mataityte is a member of the Kaskados Piano Trio. With this Trio she toured Russia, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Japan. Apart from the Kaskados Trio Rusnė has been a member of the Tate Ensemble (London); since 2002 she is also the lead violin of the Gaida Ensemble (Vilnius). Rusnė teaches at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and the National M.K.Čiurlionis School of Arts. Dan Styffe Bronze Age rock carving Sheet music

December 2016

Hällristningsområdet for Dan Styffe and Prima Facie Recordings

It is a huge honour to be asked by Dan Styffe to contribute to his recording of new works for solo DB for Prima Facie. Returning to my past as an archaeologist with a particular interest in the petroglyphs of Scandanavian Bronze Age, the new piece is called Hällristningsområdet (Rock Carvings) inspired by the Swedish carvings at Tanumshede which date to c. 1800 to 500 BCE.

The programme note for the new work reads:
The area of Tanumshede is situated on the south western coast of Sweden. Archaeologically, it is renowned for its unique series of Bronze Age rock carvings dating from between c. 1800 to 500 BCE. Incised into over 600 panels, the petroglyphs were originally situated along a 25 mile stretch of fjord coastline and as such there are many depictions of Hjortspring boats and seafaring activities. There are also scenes of hunting, agricultural and livestock farming and warring, with many armoured figures carrying swords, axes and shields. Whilst it is possible to interpret most carvings as images of quotidian life, the meaning of some panels is less clear. It is likely that several scenes depict ritual acts overseen by gods, often surrounded by abstract symbols - crosses, dots and ‘cups’, the significance of which is now unknown. As well as being a source of information about Scandinavian Bronze Age weapons, vehicles, tools, ships, even hairstyles, the carvings have also been the subject of debates about gender. The society depicted on the rocks seems overwhelmingly patriarchal, making the rare carvings of probable female figures particularly important. The most famous of these is known as The Grieving Woman, apparently weeping over a dead warrior from a ship. Her grief, ‘heavy as rocks’ is heard in the opening movement of the piece, echoing through the remaining movements and giving the work its dark, melancholy character. The Woman returns in the final movement as a ghost, her footsteps coming closer and closer as her ‘lover’s’ ship is rebuilt over and over again. Movement III is gentler in tone, a song for the Woman and her lover - depicted as a couple rolling a giant sun surrounded by farm animals. Movement II represents the enigmatic Juggler or Calendar Man who holds 29 spheres in his hand - perhaps juggling the fate of The Grieving Woman. Hällristningsområdet was written at the request of bassist Dan Styffe, resident in Norway but born in Sweden. (SH)

I Den sörjande kvinnan: The Grieving Woman
II Tjugonio bollar: identifiera juggler tid: 29 Balls: identifying the juggler of time
III Älskande rullande solen: Lovers rolling the sun
IV Diskursiva relationer mellan skepp och fotsulor: Discursive relationship between ships and footsoles

King Kong The American Deaf School

December 2016

SQUISH! US premiere in association with The American Deaf School

Being the current Composer-in-Residence with the US ensemble Cuatro Puntos makes for a life full of wonderful surprises. I’m about to embark on a new piece in celebration of the deaf community in Hartford, Connecticut which will use an American Sign Language story as a starting point. I knew absolutely nothing about ASL before the invitation to compose the piece and am so excited to be part of such an amazing project.

Called SQUISH! the piece is for string quartet and New York street sounds - a musical retelling of King Kong's love affair with Ann Darrow. In the ASL version it doesn’t quite end in the way you might expect! SQUISH! will be premiered on 7 December in Hartford. The commission is being supported by a grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Here's the video I'm interpreting:

Squish! performed with ASL interpreter in Storrs, Connecticut

November 2016

Squish! performed with ASL interpreter in Storrs, Connecticut

Squish! (King Kong’s Love Song) receives another performance in the glorious surroundings of St. Mark’s Chapel in Storrs, Connecticut on November 5th at 7.00pm. The work was commissioned as part of a celebration of deaf culture in Connecticut and was written as part of my Residency with the US ensemble Cuatro Puntos, here in its quartet form. The commission was funded generously by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

CP writes: ’Unknown to many, Connecticut is the birthplace of American Sign Language. 200 years ago in 1817 Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet brought sign language from France and started the American School for the Deaf. Cuatro Puntos will present a diverse program titled “Celebrating Deaf Musical Culture from Beethoven to the Present.” On the program will be a newly commissioned piece from Cuatro Puntos’ composer-in-residence Sadie Harrison. “Squish!” is based on an ASL deaf story about King Kong, which has a surprising twist at the end. The story will be told by ASL storyteller Danielle Holdridge, with musical accompaniment by string quartet.’

Echoes from Home

November 2016

Theo’s Lullaby for cor anglais and harp premieres in Salisbury

Theo’s Lullaby was originally written for beginner double bass and piano in 2012. Over the years, I have made several arrangements of this little piece (dedicated to my grandson Theo) - among them, versions for 2 double basses and piano (for David Heyes); bassoon, bass clarinet and piano (Sarah Watts and Laurence Perkins) and now for cor anglais and harp. The work receives its premiere on 12 November (7.30) at Salisbury Methodist Church performed by Jennifer Porcas (ob) and Helena de Rijke (harp) at a charity concert for the Salisbury Trust for the Homeless.

Broken Wing performed in Tianjin, China

October 2016

Broken Wing performed in Tianjin, China

Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Mihailo Trandilovski gave the Chinese premiere of Broken Wing (after Leonardo) for 2 violins on 25 October 2016 at the Tianjin Conservatory as part of the British Contemporary Music Festival. The programme, presented as part of the Kreutzer Quartet’s week long residency at the Conservatory included woks by Trandilovski, George Holloway, Laurie Bamon, Richard Beaudoin, Scelsi and Finnissy.

Broken Wing was written especially for the duo - a tour de force of virtuosity that depicts Leonardo da Vinci’s conception and construction of one of his wonderful flying machines. The opening phrases are a transcription of a fragment apparently composed by da Vinci, and form the material on which the piece is based.

New UYMP works

September 2016

Gallery broadcast on Radio 3 Breakfast Show

BBC Radio 3

Very nice indeed to hear the first movement from Gallery (Room 1) broadcast on Radio 3 Breakfast Show with Martin Handley on 18 September 2016. The movement is entitled The Flight of Swallows, and as with all the pieces, it is based on a painting by Peter Sheppard Skaerved - in this case, 'Swallows over the Residenz in Munich'. Peter has released both Rooms of Gallery on Toccata Classics to great acclaim.

New UYMP works

September 2016

New works published by UYMP

A collection of news works in the UYMP Catalogue this Autumn:

A Not-So-Sonatine for double bass and piano
Premiered by Frano Kakarigi (double bass), Juan José Muñoz Canivano (piano) in Granada (2016).
A video of a subsequent performance can be seen at:

SQUISH! (King Kong’s Love Song) for string quartet
Commissioned as part of my Composer-in-Residency with US ensemble Cuatro Puntos with funds from the Connecticut Office for the Arts and in association with the American School for the Deaf in Hartford. The work receives its premiere on 18 October 2016 in Connecticut, USA.

‘…an amaranth from the shade..’ for violin and piano
Written for Peter Sheppard Skaerved in celebration of his 50th birthday.

Sapida-Dam-Nau (New Dawn) for the Afghanistan Women’s Orchestra (ANIM)
(2 Oboe, 2 B-flat Clarinet, 1 Trumpet in B-flat, 1 Crotales, 1 Glockenspiel, 1 Triangle, 1 Xylophone, 2 Piano, 1 Orchestral Strings, Qashkarchas, Rubabs, Sitars). The work will receive its premiere at the Closing Concert of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January 2017 with subsequent performances in Berlin, Weimar, Geneva, Vienna and London. The composition of the
work was generously supported by a Finzi Trust Scholarship.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved

September 2016

Peter Sheppard Skaerved plays Gallery in Vermont and New York

It is a rare thing to have the commitment of a performer like Peter! Hardly a month goes by when I don’t hear of yet another performance of pieces from Gallery (Rooms 1 and 2). This month Peter played a selection in Brandon, Vermont at the Compass Center (13 September) and then a couple of days later at Ithaca College in New York as part of his Autumn residency.

Peter’s recording of the work (Toccata Classics TOCC0304) has been described by Kate Wakeling in the BBC Music Magazine as ‘a vivid exploration of the miniature. No single movement exceeds four minutes and the shortest is just 24 seconds, yet these five magnetic works explore content and form with a dazzling intensity. Many of the compositions are exphrastic in nature…Gallery is by turns meditative and skittish, exploring the paintings and drawings of artist and violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved who also performs the work (and writes the disc’s engaging liner notes)’, and by Fiona Maddocks (Guardian) as ‘Gallery (Rooms I and II) for solo violin – 19 musical glimpses to be played in any order – takes the paintings of the versatile violinist Peter Sheppard-Skaerved as a starting point….each glittering in their intensity.’

British Music Collection

August 2016

British Music Collection Spotlight Article

It is a great privilege to be on the BMC team as part of the Collection’s Steering Group, and I am so excited to start exploring the extraordinary wealth of materials that are housed in the BMC’s Huddersfield site. Over the next few weeks, I am going to throw the Spotlight on some of the Collection’s composers who have shared my interest in the music of other cultures. But first, an introduction to my own passion for the music of Afghanistan, expressed most recently in Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light, a two year project that culminated in 2015-16 tours in the USA, UK and Europe.

BBC Record Review

August 2016

Rosegarden of Light on BBC Radio 3 Record Review

Sadie Harrison - Solos and Duos Sadie Harrison - The Rosegarden of Light

July 2016

Toccata Classics CDs receive excellent reviews

Solos and Duos for Strings and Piano (TOCC0304) - is made up of many short pieces. In fact there are 39 tracks across 72 minutes. These form six works. Gallery (Room 1) for solo violin is the banner under which eleven are collected. The music is approachable, moving between Vaughan Williams (Along the Field and The Lark Ascending) and Holst (Four Medieval Songs), spiky blues, melodious legato writing, the chitter of insect flight and papery wings, sour and abrasive attack and meditative-static moments. Room 2 is in much the same region with angularity, simple songs sepia tinted, chattering aggression and hesitancy. Cymbeline's Fort (tr. 18) has an airy atmosphere track added before a gentle tune is ushered in. …Ballare Una Passacaglia Di Ombre… for solo violin is in the same broad ballpark.

As a break from the unadorned sound of the violin comes Hidden Ceremonies 1: Nine Fragments after Paintings by Brian Graham for solo piano. Harrison here introduces us to sepulchral muffled bells, slow moving and with long silences between single notes, nervy, fast, ruthless episodes, warm emotionality yet with complex dissonances, the stern and the taciturn, clinking railroad rhythms and a final piece (After Antler Music) in which Conlon Nancarrow might well be meeting Scott Joplin. TheThree Dances for Diana Nemorensis are for solo viola. Here Harrison's interest in the ancient world surfaces: Diana charts stuttering unconfident progress, Hecate is suitably creepy with angular virtuosity while the final Selene feels like a tentative journey through some unknown world. We end with the seven movements that make up ... under the circle of the moon ... Mansions I-VII for two violins. Here harsh discords are mixed with steely dissonance, the violins seem to emulate electronic effects in the first piece. Other sections adopt broken linkages or are articulated in a way that will require much more listening from me before I can make out the nexus. In The Thousand Songs of Thebes there's more legato which smoothes progress but again the journey takes the listener into distant kingdoms. Albrecht Dürer Self-portrait 1500 AD - The Frankfurt Zoll is more humane and as a prize there's a singular melody which has an archaic ecclesiastical caste.

The Rosegarden of Light disc (TOCC0342) - just released - has a strong Afghani flavour which most Western listeners will recognise as a distinctive reflection of Middle-East manners and methods. The music consists of traditional Afghan pieces, original compositions by Harrison and arrangements by Kevin Bishop. Arghawan is a dance that showcases a plectrum-driven instrument, bouzouki-like in sound, with traditional ensemble. Dast be Dast is for solo viola and is hushed yet animated. Its sound may prompt memories of Holst's Four Songs for voice and solo violin.

Sadie Harrison's engaging Gulistan-e Nur:

The Rosegarden of Light (2015) is laid out in three pairs of Interlude and Movement, each founded on Afghan material. The music, often mysterious and husky, feels at various junctures like a Round, delightfully pointed dances that are fast pulsing and reflective islands. It often rejoices in subtle shadings and the finest thrusts and delicate slashes of a keenly-honed audio scalpel. The final piece has a touch of Steve Reich about it. Ay Shakhe Gul, as arranged in Westernised style by Kevin Bishop, is easy to assimilate. It has about it something of Alan Hovhaness and his gift for evoking angelic celestial dancing.
The last three tracks involve two that are intriguingly traditional in sound but the central one Pesta Faros, again skilfully arranged by Kevin Bishop is very Westernised. The disc might present cataloguing difficulties in that it seems to move effortlessly between what I take to be authentic World Music and a 'classical' take on traditional Afghan material.

(Both reviews: Rob Barnett)

Several Instruments Blogspot Review:

The Rosegarden of Light: Sadie Harrison is a composer of considerable stature, with a significant oeuvre that shows variety, depth and originality. She has been engaged in two additional professions which enhance her music. She's a professional gardener, which gives her insights into the natural world and organic processes, and also an archaeologist, which opens windows into other cultures and to the past. The Rosegarden of Light project is a fascinating partnership with Cuatro Puntos (with whom Harrison is working closely, as composer in residence), a chamber music collective dedicated to global cooperation and peace, and student ensembles of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (including the girls' Ensemble Zohra and the Junior Ensemble of Traditional Afghan Instruments).

The combination of Harrison's special writing for strings, full of deceptively simple, open tunes and intricate rhythms and harmonies, and the joyful traditional Afghan music with its delightful sound palette gives this music an uplifting feeling. You can play clips from each track [the entire album] at the Toccata Classics website, and get a hint of this highly successful cross-cultural project. It makes one at least a tiny bit optimistic that music can indeed change lives, even for young people looking for life and joy against such high odds.

Bavad Khair Baqi performance Bavad Khair Baqi performance

June 2016

Report from the British Museum

Great to share these two great photographs from the performance of Bavad Khair Baqi! for solo violin and …under the circle of the moon…for violin duo that took place in the Alexander Room at the British Museum on 17 June. Peter Sheppard Skaerved is the only violinist to take on BKB, which puts a strain on the body and the voice!

Peter’s recording of the piece can be heard at:

Mihailo and Peter recorded the duos for Toccata in 2015. FANFARE MAGAZINE reviewed the pieces: There are 28 “mansions of the moon,” and each of Harrison’s seven movements is based on the number 28.

Inspiration came from Dürer, the Thousand Songs of Thebes and tourmaline (the gemstone), among others. The theological/mystic ideas explored are too numerous to be listed here, but the end result is that the music speaks directly to the heart, nowhere more so than in the intertwining lines of “The Thousand Songs of Thebes,” an evocation of Osiris. The references to earlier musics, in “Albrecht Dürer Self-Portrait 1500 AD – The Frankfurt Zoll” sound perfectly natural, as does the command of the performers, particularly in the terrifyingly high, quiet lines.

This movement seems to be one of Harrison’s most impressive achievements; it glows in this interpretation. The grating sounds of “Tourmaline” which follows could hardly be more different, 40 seconds that lead to the strong but less abrasive final “The Curse with Turtledoves.” Here, the violin parts are labeled “Her” and “Him” and are motivically independent of each other.

They can be heard at:

The Rosegarden of Light poster

June 2016

The Rosegarden of Light European Tour, 28 May - 6 June 2016

View the photo gallery

28 May 2016 CONCERT 1: Purbeck Arts Weeks Festival, Swanage School, Dorset
29 May 2016 CONCERT 2: Brighton Fringe Festival, Friends Meeting House
30 May 2016 CONCERT 3: Silk Mill Studios, Frome, Somerset Publicity materials
1 June 2016 CONCERT 4: Afghan Music Unit, Goldsmiths, London: CD LAUNCH (Toccata Classics: The Rosegarden of Light)
2 June 2016 CONCERT 5: St. Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, Dorset
6 June 2016 CONCERT 7: Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin
4 June 2016 CONCERT 6: Late Music Festival York, Unitarian Chapel, York


Emma Ormond (organiser)
Thank you for an amazing evening last night. I thought the three groups worked together beautifully in terms of sound and ethos. Feedback from people on their way out of the school was amazing. I'm sorry we didn't sell a few more CDs - I think their minds were still in Afghanistan. As Sadie said, it was very touching that they even clapped the video clips. Once again, many thanks for a wonderful opening concert and setting the Festival off on such a positive note.

Brian Graham (artist)
What a wonderful evening. To have music of the calibre provided last night in Swanage was a true and somewhat rare luxury. I loved it!


Jenny Lord (oboist)
Wonderful wonderful concert Sadie, huge thanks to you all. My ‘trio of girls’ all loved it. I loved your music for CP. and had great difficulty holding myself together in 2nd mvt......what powerful stuff.

Mark Hewitt (composer)
I just wanted to say that the Rosegarden of Light concert was the best concert I've been to in...well, years....or ever!! What was remarkable for me was the freshness of the your music. It was so refreshing to go to a concert that leaves one feeling changed for the better. I've been listening to your disc today and low and behold the national time signature of Crewkerne is now 7/8!!

(Lady) Vix Madel (mature student)
BRAVO!! It was a complete triumph. I can't tell you how much we all enjoyed it. I am listening to the CD now. A minute ago Lauire was dancing around the room to it and we had a really interesting conversation about the Taliban and the work you are doing. You are a true inspiration, so wonderful to see the work being done and stories like Wahid moving forward and grasping all of life. I am so pleased I came. It is a night I will remember always.

Jean Daw (mature student)
Just wanted to tell you how much Jack and I enjoyed the marvellous concert last week.

Zara McQueen (artist)
I was totally blown away by the concert in St Peters. You are all working so hard.

Marc Yeats (composer)
Amazing concert in Shaftesbury last night with Sadie Harrison and The Rosegarden of Light Project 2016 starring the US string ensemble, Cuatro Puntos and Veronica and John Bailey along with video from Ensemble Zohra in Afghanistan and original compositions from Sadie. What a delight. There's so much to say - the performances were utterly top notch and Sadie's The Rosegarden of Light was a spectacularly lifeaffirming work that combined virtuosity, beauty, elegance and excitement with a deeply felt heart. No sentimentality here, the music communicated directly through its strongly crafted melodies connecting traditional Afghan folk tunes with Sadie's own compositional aesthetic in a whirlwind of joy. Such accomplished and profound music. Can't wait to listen again on the CD I'm holding. Congratulations to all!

Jennifer Newbury (writer)
Simon and I had a brilliant time last night. The music was so beautiful and inspiring. Congratulations!

Jane Hawthorn (Psychotherapist)
The Rose Garden of Light has been a truly remarkable project. Congratulations to all involved. You have so much to be proud of.


Amanda Bee (artist)
An absolutely brilliant evening with amazing music - thank you Sadie!

Martin Penning (luthier)
Just to say "Great concert last night ". I hope you had a good chill day, last night was fantastic. We really enjoyed your pieces and all of the program. Shame about the numbers but everyone who went loved it. Hope you’re proud, you`ve done something very special.

Niall Hoskin (singer)
I came back last night from one of the dates on the ‘Rosegarden’ tour with – of course – a copy of the CD. It is – and the concert was – a fascinating listen. Utterly committed performers, some crafty arrangements by violist Kevin Bishop, and at the heart of the project the Harrison work. It alternates field recordings from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul with responses to those pieces, played live by the American string sextet Cuatro Puntos. There was a reference in the programme to pieces being ‘culturally bilingual’, which I found helpful. The ‘Western” musicians reference the Afghan originals without patronising them, and the original material is strong enough for the themes to be clearly discernible in Harrison’s treatments.

The ensemble has a double bass rather than a second cello: that makes for immense richness at times. But filigree sounds are there too. The viola solo ‘Allah-Hu’ is a gem, beautifully played by Bishop. This is music of great beauty and power, with moments of foot-tapping energy. All involved with the project are committed to the ANIM institute. The tour isn’t over – they’re worth tracking down. If it’s too late for that, get the CD and crank up the volume!

Review in The Fine Times: Fanny Charles

The Rosegarden of Light, Silk Mill in Frome and touring
WHAT kind of world do we live in where making music is an act of defiance? What kind of country is it where it requires huge courage for girls to learn to play instruments? What kind of god asks its adherents to smash exquisite traditional instruments and bans the making of music or even singing as you work in the fields?

Video film of the smiles and concentration on the faces of Afghan girls playing music with Afghan and American teachers says more about the plight of ordinary people under a regime of brutal fanatics than any Mad Max images of gun-waving fighters on armoured vehicles racing across the desert amid clouds of swirling sand. The three-part film of Ensemble Zohra was shown as interludes between performances of The Rosegarden of Light (Gulistan-e Nur), to a small but captivated audience at the Silk Mill in Frome, part of an international tour that also visits Shafesbury before heading for Berlin and The Hague.

The Rosegarden of Light is the title of a work by the Shaftesbury-based composer Sadie Harrison. It is also a project that involves Sadie , the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM) and the American string sextet Cuatro Puntos (Four Corners), a non-profit ensemble dedicated to global cooperation and peace through writing, performing and teaching music. The girls in the film are students at ANIM, which was founded by Dr Ahmed Sarmast, whose father Ustad Salim Sarmast was one of Afghanistan’s finest and most popular composers. The concert includes Ustad Sarmast’s O Flower Branch (Ay Shakha Gul), a setting of a ghazal by the Iranian poet Mohammad Hoseyn Shariar, with swirling, sentimental melodies that are poignant reminders of a time when music filled the airwaves and the streets of Kabul. Music, poetry and the creation of gardens flourished in Afghanistan throughout the centuries, as they did in neighbouring Persia/Iran. It was only with the rise of the puritanical Taliban that the enjoyment of beauty in all its forms – as part of a deeply religious culture – was stamped on. Instruments were smashed, music disappeared from radio, television and the streets, even from people’s homes. The lives of women – always hard and constrained by rigid codes of morality – became almost unendurable, with bans on education, music, colourful clothes and most forms of socialising.

After the removal of the Taliban government, and the return of a fragile freedom, Dr Sarmast founded ANIM in 2009. The organisation works particularly with street children and trains teachers to take their skills and music to other parts of the country. A film made over several years, shown at The Rosegarden of Light evening, features Waheed, a child who scratches a pittance selling plastic carrier bags to shoppers, and has learned to play the piano. Rosegarden composer Sadie Harrison wrote a piece for him called A Gift of Music – his smile as he plays is heart-breaking and uplifting. Waheed also plays the harmonium and the sitar.

On 11th December 2014, Dr Sarmast and a group of young musicians from ANIM were performing at the Istiqlal School at the French Cultural Centre in Kabul. A suicide bomber attacked the venue and Dr Sarmast was seriously injured. Undeterred, he continues with his work, supported by brave Afghan teachers and by visiting musicians, including viola player Kevin Bishop and bassist Holly Bishop of Cuatro Puntos. They are helping to revive Afghanistan’s traditional music and to teach western music. Waheed’s favourite composer is Chopin, and Sadie’s gift is a nod to the Polish master of the piano.
Sadie Harrison worked as an archaeologist before she became a composer and her knowledge and understanding of the past informs much of her music. The Rosegarden programme also includes her solo viola piece, Allah hu (This is God), part of a longer work, Dast be Dast (Hand to Hand in Friendship) which was first performed in Kabul by Kevin Bishop, rubab player Samim Zafar and Madhurijya Barthakur on tabla. The piece was commissioned by Kevin and was Sadie’s first for Cuatro Puntos and ANIM.

Other works in the programme are Nai Concertino, by the Iraqi composer Mohammed Uthman Sidiq, the profoundly moving Calligraphies for string quartet by Iranian-born Reza Vali and Letters Home, a tragic memoir by the Syrian exile Kareen Roustom. The second half opens with Pesta Farosh (The Pistachio Seller), a popular traditional Afghan song that can be played or sung or arranged for any number of performers or instruments.

The film of Ensemble Zohra was made at a time of terrible violence and random attacks in Kabul. The girls were literally in fear of their lives, Sadie told the Frome audience. Afghanistan is still the worst country in the world for women’s rights, but the existence of ANIM and of the girls in Ensemble Zohra is a tribute to the courage and creativity of these young women and testament to the power of music to transform lives.

The Rosegarden of Light project has already been performed across the USA and at Brighton Festival, and is heading for Berlin and the Netherlands. There is one more West Country date, at St Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, on Thursday 2nd June. This is an important, fascinating and hugely enjoyable evening, one to make you think but also to relish the richness of music in our culture, whether we come from povertystricken Afghanistan or the wealthy west.

The Rosegarden of Light is raising awareness – and funds – for ANIM and Cuatro Puntos’ work in Afghanistan. Proceeds of the Rosegarden CDs will go to the project, and Shaftesbury artist Phyllis Wolff is donating part of any sales of her paintings, some inspired by The Rosegarden of Light, on show at the Silk Mill in Frome for the next two weeks. Phyllis is also opening her studio for Dorset Art Weeks, which continues to 12th June.


Claire Irwin (UYMP)
I was so sorry to miss it, Sadie. Matthew says the York concert was amazing!

James Whittle (composer)
The Rosegarden of Light UK Tour 2016 is a truly incredible project not only supporting the rights of young Afghan women and men to have a voice and pursue a passion in music - in a country where both have been suppressed - but also promoting the uncontainable, exuberant joy in this country's music. Cuatro Puntos showed such close listening, deep understanding and love for this music. Would that these were seen in all things. Thank you Sadie Harrison and Cuatro Puntos for a heartwarming concert.

Hayley Jenkins (composer)
The most uplifting, passionate, inspiring and beautiful concert by Sadie Harrison- Composer Late Music. We NEED to support music in Afghanistan and other war zones so that the music lives on in young people and it inspires and enriches them when everyday life is such a struggle. All children need love, creativity and independence, and community. Thank you Sadie for raising awareness and sharing such an important project.


Diana Ambache (Ambache Charitable Trust)
Bravo on last night - so many interesting aspects. Your skill in writing for the different levels was great, and I thought all the work with the Ensemble Zohra was terrific. It was a stimulating evening from many angles. I hope the rest of the tour goes well.

Douglas Bertram (musician)
RE: CD: I’ve been listening to this music tonight. Truly wonderful stuff, and so finely and engagingly performed. More!

The British Museum

June 2016

Peter Sheppard Skaerved performs at the British Museum

Peter will be giving a performance of Bavad on 17 June 2016 at 6.00 in the Great Court at the British Museum. It is part of a programme entitled Music from Alexander the Great’s Empire. BM website: Violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved presents an evening of music inspired by Alexander the Great's travels.

‘Come and hear new music by Macedonian composer Mihailo Trandafilovski, American composer Michael Alec Rose and Australian composer Sadie Harrison, bringing together traditions and instruments from India, Afghanistan and Europe.’
BM Website

Peter gave the first performance of this virtuosic 12 minute work for solo violin at the Glyptothek Museum, Munich in 2002. Since then he has performed the work in venues across the globe, also recording it on Metier Records MSV CD 92084. The work is the third piece of my trilogy The Light Garden which was written as a response to the Taliban’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The title comes from an inscription on the tomb of Babur the Conqueror, found on the fourteenth terrace of the Bagh-e Babur (Babur’s garden) built by Shah Jahan in Kabul in the 16th century. Bavad Khair Baqi! (May this goodness last forever!) is a condensed and fractured derivation of material from the first two works in the set. Played without a break, the piece is meant to be a struggle - edgy, desperate, with suppressed aggression and exhausting. The closing moments of the piece are shown here.

Sheet music

The Rosegarden of Light Project poster The Rosegarden of Light

May-June 2016

The Rosegarden of Light European Tour 2016

From 28 May - 6 June 2016, I will be joining forces with the exceptional American string sextet Cuatro Puntos and performers of traditional Afghan music Veronica Doubleday and John Baily in a 7 date tour across the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. The concerts will present a celebration of music by contemporary Afghan, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi composers alongside a newlycommissioned work by myself - Gulistan-e Nur for string sextet and youth ensemble. Gulistan is a 6 movement work which pairs the sextet with video recordings of Ensemble Zohra - an extraordinary girl’s ensemble from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul.

The tour will also launch the Toccata Classics CD The Rosegarden of Light with a reception and concert in association with the Afghan Music Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The concert dates are:

28 May 2016, 7.30pm Purbeck Arts Weeks Festival, Swanage School
29 May 2016, 3pm Brighton Fringe Festival, Friends Meeting House
30 May 2016, 7.00pm The Silk Mill, Frome, Somerset
1 June 2016, 6.15pm CD LAUNCH CONCERT Goldsmiths, Londo
2 June 2016, 7.30pm St. Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, Dorset
4 June 2016, 7.30pm Late Music Festival, Unitarian Chapel, York

Ticket information and reservations from individual venues email: tel: 07456 890899


May 2016

PRSF Women Make Music Award for The Rosegarden of Light European Tour


We are delighted to announce that Sadie Harrison has been awarded a prestigious PRS for Music Foundation Women Make Music grant for The Rosegarden of Light UK Tour 2016 and CD Launch, which takes place between 28 May - 7 June. The tour has already been awarded UK grants from Arts Council England, Hinrichsen Foundation, RVW Trust and Greater Hartford Arts Council, alongside funding from US-based New Music USA and the Mattina R Proctor Foundation.

The initial commission for the multi-media string sextet/video work Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light, which gives the tour its name, was funded generously by the Ambache Charitable Foundation.

American string sextet Cuatro Puntos and performers of traditional Afghan music Veronica Doubleday and John Baily will tour the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. The concerts will present a celebration of music by contemporary Afghan, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi composers alongside Gulistan-e Nur. Gulistan pairs the sextet with video recordings of Ensemble Zohra – Afghanistan’s only girls’ ensemble from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul.

As mentioned in an earlier news release, the concerts will take place between 28 May – 7 June 2016, at the Purbeck Arts Weeks Festival in Swanage, the Brighton Fringe Festival, York Late Music Festival, the Silk Mill Studios in Frome, St. Peter’s Church, Shaftesbury, the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin and as part of a Syrian refugee music programme located outside The Hague.

Toccata Classics’ CD The Rosegarden of Light (CD342) will be launched at a concert and reception at Goldsmiths, University of London, on 1 June, in association with the Afghan Music Unit.


May 2016

Collaboration with artist Brian Graham

I was absolutely delighted to receive this wonderful gift from Dorset artist Brian Graham during the Rosegarden Tour to Swanage on 28 May. Brian and I have been in conversation for a number of years resulting in the composition of Hidden Ceremonies for solo piano recently recorded by Roderick Chadwick on Toccata Classics in 2015. The programme note for the work reads: Brian’s paintings draw together the worlds of prehistoric archaeology, geology, music and contemporary landscape. They bring the reality and imaginings of prehistoric sites into the present through direct, emotive expression, sometimes inspired by the music of past and contemporary composers. The works are by turns pale, delicate and fragile, then ablaze with red-black drama; they are quiet contemplations of the scarred landscape and the conjurings of dark spells and ancient ritual acts.

These nine musical fragments, almost exclusively fitting on a page as if a painting themselves, add a further layer to Brian’s palimpsests. Some mirror physical shapes on the canvases (Sacrarium, Flint), others interpret the colours, perhaps just the title (Antiphon, The Intervening Figure), others the objects depicted (Hearth, Spine, Antler Music). All attempt to capture, fleetingly, something of the intensity and energy of the paintings.....each over in seconds, in stark contrast to the deep past that has inspired them.’

Brian’s gift is a response to my interpretation of his original work entitled Hearth which he painted
in 2003…an ongoing dialogue from painting to music to painting….

Jenny Duck-Chong

April 2016

Aster with Jenny Duck-Chong in Sydney

The acclaimed mezzo soprano, Jenny Duck-Chong will be giving the Australian premiere of the solo vocal movements from Aster: Six Epigrams at St. Bede’s Anglian Church, Sydney on 16 April at 5pm. The pieces are part of a programme entitled Of Earth and Stars.

Jenny’s biography reads: ‘With a career spanning more than 25 years, mezzo soprano Jenny Duck- Chong has established herself as a versatile and intelligent musician with extensive experience in a broad range of classical repertoire. She has worked with Sydney's finest vocal ensembles, including Opera Australia, Pinchgut Opera, The Song Company and Cantillation.

Renowned for her dramatic portrayals of tragic heroines, such as Purcell’s Dido, Monteverdi’s Arianna and Britten’s Phaedra, as well as her formidable performances of contemporary works such as Ligeti’s Síppal, Dobbal, Nahigedüvel, Macmillan’s Raising Sparks, Benjamin’s Upon Silence and Berio’s Folksongs, she has been a featured soloist with ensembles as varied as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Baroque, Ensemble Offspring, the Renaissance Players and the Kevin Hunt Jazz Trio.

She is the director of acclaimed new music ensemble Halcyon, with whom she has been active in commissioning, premiering and performing Australian and international repertoire of the highest calibre for more than fifteen years. A passionate advocate of vocal chamber music Jenny has run classes, seminars and workshops for secondary and tertiary students and has and built relationships with composers, performers and institutions around the globe.

Also an avid recitalist, Jenny has recorded numerous concerts for broadcast by the ABC and 2MBSFM and in the recording studio, has featured as a soloist for ABC Classics and Walsingham labels as well as in film and TV scores and numerous other recordings with Cantillation, Pinchgut Opera, The Song Company, The Renaissance Players and Halcyon’s own recordings.

Severnside Composers Alliance

April 2016

Aurea Luce in Bristol and Stroud with SCA

Wonderful news that Madeleine Mitchell and Geoff Poole will be performing Aurea Luce for violin and piano a couple of times for the Severnside Composers Alliance Music on the Edge Series in April. I wrote Aurea Luce for the duo last year as part of my 50th birthday celebrations and since then Madeleine has also performed the piece with Ian Pace at City University. I started writing the work on International Womenʼs Day 2015 and it was serendipitous that the hymnʼs text is ascribed to a 5th century female author, Elpis (reputedly the first wife of the philosopher Boethius). The title translates as ʻ..with golden light..ʼ and in context within the verse it reads as:

Aurea luce et decore roseo, lux lucis, omne perfudisti seculum, decoran caelos inclito martyrio hac sacra die, quae dat reis veniam. (The Poissy Antiphonal, fol. 412v) (The beauteous light of Eternity hath flooded with blissful fires this golden day which crowns the Prince of the Apostles, and gives unto the guilty a free way to heaven).

Performance 1: 7:30pm, Thursday 7 April 2016 @ St. Paul's Church, Clifton, Bristol
Performance 2: 7:30pm, Friday 8 April 2016 @ The Christian Community, Stroud

Frano Kakarigi

April 2016

Frano Kakarigi performs A Not-So-Sonatine in Granad

Fantastic news that double bass virtuoso Frano Kakarigi will be performing my A Not-So-Sonatine at the The American Institute, Granada on 9 April 2016. This is the second outing Frano has given the piece, but this time performed with the pianist, Ángel Jábega. The four contrasted movements are entitled I Molto moto!, II Molto cantabile, III Molto scherzando and IV Molto brilliante! As the title suggests, this hugely virtuosic piece is hardly a Sonatine! it is dedicated with affection to David Heyes.

Pippa Harrison Pippa Harrison artwork

April 2016

Four Jazz Portraits at Late Music York

It is such a joy that Pippa Harrison of the Albany Trio will be giving a performance of Four Jazz Portraits on 2 April (7.30pm) in the lovely Unitarian Chapel, Saviourgate as part of the Late Music York Festival.

Rebecca Clarke - Trio
Nicola LeFanu - A Post Card and a Letter
Steve Crowther - New Work
David Lancaster - New Work
Sadie Harrison - Four Jazz Portraits
Judith Weir - O Viridissima
Helen Grime - Three Whistler Miniatures

From Pippa’s website: 'Concert highlights include performances at Fairfield Halls, St James’s Piccadilly, Castres Conservatoire, and St Martin in the Fields, The Banff Centre, The Forge and Proms at St Judes. With the Albany Trio, Pippa curated an inaugural Woman in Music festival at the Royal College of Music in 2014, which was featured in The Telegraph and sponsored by the Richard Carne Trust. Pippa has a wide ranging repertoire, frequently commissioning works and collaborating with composers including Charlotte Bray, Judith Bingham, Rory Boyle, Rachel Stott and Judith Weir 'Pippa is also an artist - you can see her beautiful pictures on her website.

LCM logo

March 2016

Composers’ Workshop at the London College of Music

Really looking forward to introducing some of my recent works to the students at the London College of Music in their Composers’ Workshop Series on March 17th. (4-6pm at the Ealing Site/BY.02.033)

Women Composers Festival of Hartford

March 2016

Performances at the Women Composers Festival USA

The Women Composers Festival of Hartford has, for the last fifteen years, provided an educational and entertaining platform for the promotion of women’s music and it is fantastic that this year Cuatro Puntos (the Festival’s Featured Artists) are presenting two of my works - Gulistan-e Nur for string sextet and Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis for solo viola at the opening concert on Thursday 10 March at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut. The Festival is hugely enterprising and it is great to see that Saturday 12 March is being dedicated to a 12 hour Marathon of women’s music from 9am to 9pm at the Charter Oak Cultural Centre.

SCAW Buxton Opera House & Pavilion Arts CentreBroken Wing

February 2016

SCAW perform Owl of the Hazels in Buxton

Fabulous musicians both, Sarah Watts (bass clarinet) and Antony Clare (piano) will be performing Owl of the Hazels at the Pavilion Arts Centre in Buxton on 12 February at 1pm. They have given the piece a few performances, this one in a typically virtuosic and varied programme:

Sadie Harrison - Owl of the Hazels
Christopher Hussey - Mystic Stardance
Sir Harrison Birtwistle - Verses
Sohrab Uduman - Glitschig
Thomas Simaku - My Beautiful Morea
Antony Clare - Fall of the King

‘Watts and Clare explore the colourful side of classical music, with inspiration taken from both jazz and folk. This afternoon’s programme includes work written specifically for Scaw, along with core repertoire works by Sadie Harrison and Gordon Crosse and Clare’s own composition Fall of the King. There will be a meet and greet over coffee with Watts and Clare following the performance.’

Fanfare logo Solos and Duos for Strings and Piano - Sadie Harrison

January 2016

Excellent review of Toccata CD in FANFARE

“This is not the first disc of music by Australianborn, UK-residing composer Sadie Harrison I have reviewed here: Back in 2007 I wrote on An Unexpected Light (NMC records, Fanfare 31:2). It is a pleasure to welcome the present disc, this time on the enterprising Toccata label.

With regard to her piece Gallery, Harrison describes her fascination with miniature paintings, particularly those housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. A piece made up of micromovements, Gallery (Rooms 1 and 2), of 2012–13, marked Harrison’s return to composition after a period out to engage in archaeology (specifically, the designs on Bronze Age pottery from the Carpathian Basin). There is an intriguing double aspect to this composition, in that Harrison used the present violinist’s paintings as starting points for her works. Harrison is a strict selfdisciplinarian, and she rigorously wrote a piece a day.

Some of Peter Sheppard Skaerved’s paintings are reproduced in the accompanying booklet (there are more at; as when one walks around a gallery and savors the art sometimes in random fashion, so can the performer here choose his or her own order. What is most powerful here is Sheppard Skaerved’s sense of lyricism. Even in the more playful pieces (the fourth movement “Measure for Measure,” for example), it is this element that is most powerful. The close recording adds an extra layer of involvement, particularly in the abrasive final piece of Room I, “It rubs off.” There’s a lovely idea in the second set, as Harrison pens a piece entitled, “Practising Sadie Harrison.” Again, the playful side act as a foil for the prevailing lyricism, a lyricism that is directed very much inwards for “Lachrymae (Tennessee) after Cotton Eye Joe,” wherein Sheppard Skaerved’s bow control is little short of miraculous; his technique is once more tested in “Stormfactory,” while the glassy harmonics of “Cymbline’s Fort” invoke a supernatural stillness.

There are myriad influences, artfully woven together, for Harrison’s … ballare una passacaglia di ombre … of 2011. A Biber project by Sheppard Skaerved rubs shoulders with Danish fairy tales by the violinist’s wife, a mosaic by Sosos of Pergamon, two fragmentary Delphic hymns from 138 BC and Biber’s Sonata No. 16. It lasts less than four minutes, but occupies a very special, fragile space.

The Hidden Ceremonies I piece is subtitled, “nine fragments after paintings by Brian Graham” and is a 2013 work for solo piano lasting around 11 minutes. One of Graham’s inspirations is archaeology. Harrison calls the fragments, “quiet contemplations of the scarred landscape and the conjurings of dark spells and ancient ritual acts.” The stasis, the gestures that seem to work from bass up all speak of an ancient, buried past ripe for reworkings; all this while reflecting the energy of Graham’s paintings. Roderick Chadwick is an excellent interpreter (he recorded Stockhausen’s Mantra for Hathut). Each movement begins with the word “after,” emphasizing the interiorization by Harrison of Graham’s expression. The stumbling, somewhat post-Stravinskian gait of the final “after Antler Music” comes as something of a surprise. Perhaps the recording of the piano could have accorded a little more depth to the instrument. (This is the only piece not to have been recorded at St. John the Baptist Aldbury; instead it was taken down in St. Michaels, Highgate in London.)

Diana Mathews is a superb violist, her sound magnificently warm. Harrison’s Three Dances for Diana Nemorensis (2013) takes its title from a three-“headed” Goddess structure Diana-Selene-Hekate. Perhaps the number three is emphasized by Hekate’s designation of Hekate Trevia, or Hekate of the three ways (in the UK there has been an explosion of interest in this liminal Goddess over the past few years). Harrison takes as her starting point a coin from 43 BC, however, which shows the three Goddesses. The piece is magnificently mysterious, particularly the final movement, “Selene” (a moon Goddess).

Finally, there comes …under the circle of the moon… (Mansions I-VII) for two violins of 2004. There are 28 “mansions of the moon,” and each of Harrison’s seven movements is based on the number 28. Inspiration came from Dürer, the Thousand Songs of Thebes and tourmaline (the gemstone), among others. The theological/mystic ideas explored are too numerous to be listed here, but the end result is that the music speaks directly to the heart, nowhere more so than in the intertwining lines of “The Thousand Songs of Thebes,” an evocation of Osiris. The references to earlier musics, in “Albrecht Dürer Self-Portrait 1500 AD – The Frankfurt Zoll” sound perfectly natural, as does the command of the performers, particularly in the terrifyingly high, quiet lines. This movement seems to be one of Harrison’s most impressive achievements; it glows in this interpretation. The grating sounds of “Tourmaline” which follows could hardly be more different, 40 seconds that lead to the strong but less abrasive final “The Curse with Turtledoves.” Here, the violin parts are labeled “Her” and “Him” and are motivically independent of each other.

There are two sets of booklet notes here, one by the composer and one by Sheppard Skaerved. The violinist’s view on Harrison’s responses to his art is fascinating—but, importantly, not as fascinating as the music itself.” COLIN CLARKE

Afghanistan National Youth Orchestra The Finzi Trust logo

January 2016

Finzi Trust Scholarship awarded for new Afghan orchestral work

I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded a 2016 Finzi Trust Scholarship for the composition of a new orchestral work for the Afghanistan National Youth Orchestra, entitled Gulistan-e Bolbol: The Nightingale’s Rosegarden. I will be the first woman to write for the orchestra and one of only a very few non-Afghan composers to have written works for the ensemble. In line with ANIM’s pioneering approach to music-making, the orchestra combines traditional Afghan instruments, such as the rubab, tanbur, ghichak, dilruba, sitar, sarod and dhol, with a full compliment of western orchestral forces. The orchestra has played in several prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Centre and Carnegie Hall to great acclaim. The work will be performed during the Winter Academy at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and during a US tour in 2017. Although a fledgling ensemble, the best hopes of the country are embodied in its young performers, who will become not just tomorrow’s musicians but also the country’s leaders and educators.

Huge thanks to the Finzi Trust for supporting this venture!

Ian Pace Madeleine Mitchell

January 2016

Madeleine Mitchell and Ian Pace perform at City University

Two recent works were given fabulous performances by Madeleine Mitchell and Ian Pace in the Performance Space, City University on 26 January. Ian gave The Return of the Nightingales for piano and nightingale song its second performance, having premiered the work at Late Music York in 2013. The score is prefaced by the following Persian Sufi text:

‘Ajab tarana e sar karda am darin golshan, Khoda konad ke na sazad falak khamush mara’

I have started to sing a wonderful song in this flower-garden like a nightingale I hope the movement of the stars (destiny) does not make me silent again.

It is used as a direct reference to the devastation of Afghan culture during the period of the Taliban when musicians were silenced, many exiled or fleeing, and to their re-emergence following the Taliban’s expulsion from 2001. The text also suggested a simple musical narrative:

  • a lone nightingale’s song is accompanied by an Afghan tarana (classical song)

  • ts obliteration by a violent and mechanistic depiction of warfare

  • the gradual reassertion of the tarana and the nightingale with an accumulation of birdsong and trills interlaced with fragments of an Afghan rag, increasingly ecstatic and resonant. This eventually dies away to reveal the nightingale’s song.

Madeleine joined Ian for a second performance of Aurea Luce which originally received its premiere with Geoff Poole. It is based on a plainsong melody sung as a hymn for the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair in Rome, reflecting the dedication of the Shaftesbury church in which the premiere took place. I started writing the work on International Women’s Day and it was serendipitous that the hymn’s text is ascribed very unusually to the 5th century female author Elpis (reputedly the first wife of the philosopher Boethius).

The piece states the plainsong clearly at the beginning, with a gradual accumulation of bells (constructed from patterns taken from St. Peter’s Church changes) making conscious reference to the tintinabulation style of Arvo Pärt. It also hints at James Macmillan’s ‘Kiss on Wood’ which was written especially for Madeleine and which has become one of her very special ‘calling cards’.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Mihailo Trandilovski

January 2016

Broken Wing (after Leonardo) performed at Goldsmiths College, London

Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Mihailo Trandilovski gave Broken Wing its second performance on 28 January in Deptford Town Hall, University of London. The work was written especially for the duo - a tour de force of virtuosity that depicts Leonardo da Vinci’s conception and construction of one of his wonderful flying machines. The opening phrases are a transcription of a fragment apparently composed by da Vinci, and form the material on which the piece is based. More details about the work can be found in the December 2015 News Section.

Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut

January 2016

Cuatro Puntos perform Gulistan & Allah hu in Connecticut

The fabulous US string sextet Cuatro Puntos gave Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light another outing on 15 January in the glorious surroundings of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut. Kevin Bishop also performed the solo viola work Allah hu, the central movement from Dast be Dast for rubab and viola premiered in Kabul in 2014.

Both works will be released on a Toccata Classics CD in May 2016 during the ensemble’s European Tour of The Rosegarden of Light Project. Information about both works and Rosegarden Project can be found in the News Section 2015.