Fire in Song released on Divine Art/Metier

March 2021

Fire in Song released on Divine Art/Metier

I am totally thrilled that Fire in Song has been released on Divine Art/Metier's ‘..for clarinet and strings..’ (MSV28608) recorded by members of Gemini, with Fire in Song performed by Ian Mitchell, Caroline Balding, Aleksander Szram and Sophie Harris.

Ian writes: 'From its very beginning in 1974 Gemini has commissioned composers in a variety of styles, and programmed works and composers that have been overlooked sometimes for many years. This album presents works by Cyril Scott and Rebecca Clarke that have been championed by the ensemble. The Scott quintet was premiered by the Melos Ensemble in 1953 and possibly given only its second performance (his widow thought this was the case) – at London’s South Bank Centre in 1995. The Clarke duo, like much of her music, was unfamiliar to most people, and (performing from manuscript copies) Gemini has given a number of airings including a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast. A central plank of Gemini’s programming has always been to promote contemporary composers including music by women – 32 of whom have been commissioned, with over 70 performances of works by women. The ensemble has developed long-standing relationships with many composers: commissioning, performing and recording with the aim of giving their music a wider audience. Gemini has had a long and close musical relationship with Nicola LeFanu (eventually inviting her to be the ensemble’s Honorary President); supported Sadie Harrison from very early in her career and commissioned a number of works from Howard Skempton.'

Sadie writes: 'Fire in Song tells the creation story about fire told by the Yolngu group of Aboriginal Australians who live primarily in north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The work was written during the catastrophic bush fires that swept much of Australia in 2019-2020. It reflects on the Aboriginal approach to the fires. The outer movements provide a contemporary context - dark, abrasive commentaries on the current extreme climatic events with the central movements based on Aboriginal songs and dances from Northern and Central Australia. The story of fire's creation by Baru the Saltwater Crocodile and the joyful unification of clans as it was spread across Australia by animals, insects and birds is recited by percussionists to the pulse of Aboriginal clapsticks. The work is dedicated to David Lumsdaine and Ian Mitchell, teachers and supporters both.'

The work is in seven movements:

I The World's Lament

II Bandicoot and the Hollow Log

III Quail and the Burning Twig

IV Honey Bees and the Paperbark Swamp

V Honey Bees and the Tall Grass

VI Baru the Saltwater Crocodile and the Ancient Fire

VII Lament for the Whole World

Music & Heritage book cover

March 2021

Composing Archaeology: chapter in forthcoming Routledge publication: Music and Heritage

Very excited that the air.. for solo piano has been released on the Prima Facie ASC Records label performed by Duncan Honeybourne. The CD is the culmination of Duncan’s Contemporary Piano Soundbites, a project created during lockdown as fundraising to support Help Musicians UK. Duncan writes that the objective of this project ‘is to harness the zeitgeist of our present situation, to bring comfort and enjoyment to a large ready-made audience stuck at home, to aid musicians badly affected by the “cultural lockdown” and to add to the contemporary repertoire, creating an artistic keepsake of this extraordinary phase in our lives. Contemporary Piano Soundbites is a collection of solo piano miniatures composed, directly or indirectly, in response to the 2020 coronavirus crisis.’

Programme note: Whilst the title of the piece makes reference to the aerial transmission of the virus, it is meant primarily to express a feeling of quiet unsettledness, where drifting melodic fragments and harmonies come to rest momentarily before floating away again. The piece was written as a gift for Harrison’s mother for her birthday on 12 April.

‘ the air..’ was premiered online as part of the Weymouth Chamber Concerts Series on 2 May 2020 and will receive
its first live performance on 21 October 2020. The score is available from UYMP (link above).

Flight of Swallows on Night Tracks, BBC Radio 3

February 2021

Flight of Swallows broadcast on Radio 3 Night Tracks

Many thanks to Hannah Peel for including the solo violin piece The Flight of Swallows (performed by Peter Sheppard Skaerved) on Night Tracks on Monday 8 February. The movement is the first piece in a set of an ongoing collection of miniatures inspired by Peter Sheppard Skaerved’s exceptional artwork. The pieces (either as a complete set or a selection) can be performed in any order just as different viewers choose their various paths through a gallery space. The miniatures attempt to capture different aspects of Peter’s pictures - sometimes the medium or technique with which they are created or the structurally suggestive juxtaposition of colours and shapes. But more often, they are expressions of imagined narratives, personal responses to the art’s kaleidoscopic references, their vivacity, drama and quiet beauty. Gallery is dedicated to Peter in admiration and with thanks for so many wonderful years of collaboration. The work was released on Toccata Classics (TOCC0304) on 3 July 2015.Peter’s pictures can be see at 

Ambache Charitable Trust

February 2021

Ambache Charitable Trust Grant awarded for Frederick Septimus Kelly Projec

UYMP writes: 'We are delighted that pianist Alex Wilson has commissioned house composer Sadie Harrison to write a substantial new work, generously supported by a grant from the Ambache Charitable trust. The collaboration came about after Alex’s recent release of a Toccata Classics CD of works by the little-known Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, who died at the Battle of the Somme aged 35. Sadie's pieces are designed to be interspersed between Kelly’s piano works illuminating diary entries that he wrote throughout his life, chronologically arranged. The music will be full of references to Kelly’s own works and also to the traditional music from many of the countries with which he is associated - Scotland, England, Australia, France and through his friends to the Middle East. The piece is a celebration, and a homage to an extraordinary composer whose music has been likened to that of Scriabin, Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninov - a voice cut short through the tragedy of the First World War. 

Alex writes: Thanks so much to The Ambache Charitable Trust for supporting a new commission from Sadie Harrison by the pianist Alex Wilson.  Alex has been performing the music of the forgotten composers of WW1 since 2014, and released some of the previously unrecorded piano music of composer, pianist, rower and war hero F.S.Kelly during lockdown on the Toccata Classics label. Sadie’s new work for solo piano will form a part of a series of concerts that honours the life and music of F.S.Kelly, using her own musical voice to bring Kelly’s story to life in a wonderfully original and imaginative way. The concerts will happen in London, Exeter and Gloucester later in 2021, dates still tbc so watch this space!

The New Oboe Music Project

January 2021

Featured composer in The New Oboe Music Project

James Turnbull: This month, Sadie Harrison is the featured composer with her fantastic solo oboe pieces ‘Three Jennys’ and work for solo oboe d’amore or oboe ‘Jinny’s Haiku’. For those oboists currently taking ABRSM exams, ‘Three Jennys’ are featured for Grade 6 and 7 as well as being fine additions to any recital programme.

Three Jennys was written especially for Jenny Porcas. The three miniature movements are entitled Spinning Jenny (based on the Lancashire folksong ‘Poverty Knock’ associated with the textile industry of the nineteenth century), Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummelaria) which twists and turns like the plant itself, and Jenny Wren, heard here in virtuoso voice! Three Jennys is dedicated to Jenny with affection. First performance by Jenny Porcas for Purbeck Arts Week Festival, St. Mary’s Church, Swanage, 7th June 2014. Premiere: Commissioned & Premiered by Jinny Shaw. Premiere at Oxford Contemporary Music Festival, 18th November 2006. Each movement of Jinny’s Haiku is accompanied by a print from Yoshitoshi’s series 100 Phases of the Moon and a haiku by the master poet Basho. The four movements follow an unconventional seasonal sequence – Winter longing, Autumn wind, Spring mist and Summer dawn. The piece was commissioned by its dedicatee Jinny Shaw who gave the first performance on 18 November 2006 in the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival. The work also exists in a version for solo oboe.The New Oboe Music Project aims to promote existing new music for the oboe and encourage more composers to write for the instrument. Founded in 2015 by English oboist James Turnbull, the project has a number of aims:

To commission new oboe repertoire by raising money through existing charitable foundations and crowd funding donations.
To raise awareness of existing oboe repertoire written since the turn of the 21st century.
To encourage emerging composers to write for the oboe by establishing the Léon Goossens Oboe Prize. The inaugural prize was in 2016 and is run biennially.

WPRB Radio

7 January 2021

‘ the air..’ broadcast on WPRB Radio in Viva 21st Century

I am indebted to Marvin Rosen for his continuing support of my music. In his New Year programme Viva 21st Century he included my little solo piano piece ‘ the air..’ from the Contemporary Piano soundbites disc recorded by Duncan Honeybourne. In his typically wide-ranging programme, he also played music by composers from USA, Canada, Lithuania, Estonia, China, Brazil, Israel and France. Thanks Marvin!