Jessica Summers Living Songs feat. Richard Whalley’s Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom

Jessica Summers

A soprano with a great reputation for her interpretation of contemporary vocal repertoire, Jessica Summers will be performing Richard Whalley’s Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom at St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich on Saturday 17 November, 1pm with pianist Jelena Makarova.

Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom are settings of poems by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), one of Japan’s most important haiku poets. Though he lived a life full of tragedy, he found solace in nature and was known for a sympathetic attitude towards small creatures; this comes out very strongly in his poetry.

You skinny frog, you
don’t be beaten, don’t give up!
Here stands Issa by you.

 

The performance forms part of Summers’ Living Songs project which has since 2013 brought twenty first century into recital programmes alongside more well-known song repertoire, focussing on venues where audiences are less familiar with new music.

More about Living Songs

Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom is available from Composers Edition.

Richard Whalley Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom for voice and piano
Richard Whalley Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom for voice and piano

Premiere of ‘Refugees Welcome ♥’ in Manchester, 16th November, with Ebonit Saxophone Quartet

Come along to hear the premiere of Refugees Welcome , composed for the Ebonit Saxophone Quartet at the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, University of Manchester on 16th November 2017, as part of the New Music North West Festival.

This work is my response to the political upheavals in the UK and US during 2016, by which I was profoundly shaken. It weaves Arabic modes and West African rhythmic patterns in amongst my own musical materials with the aim of creating a kind of emotional tapestry of sound that celebrates the joy and cultural richness that immigrants can bring to society. It also empathises with the plight of refugees, from numerous parts of the world, whose stories are often so heartbreaking. After all, we are all human. But I take hope from individual acts of generosity – from the anonymous person who painted the graffiti on a cycle path near where I live (from which these piece takes its name), to those in various countries who have accepted refugees into their homes and communities, to organisations like Music Action International that give opportunities for refugees and torture survivors to make music through groups like the incredible Stone Flowers.

Plans are afoot for a joint CD of music for the Ebonit Quartet by Kevin Malone and myself. This will include Refugees Welcome and Iapetus Suture, and will be available through Divine Art / Métier.


Psappha perform ‘Wonderland’ on 17 November 2017

I’m very grateful to Psappha for including Wonderland (for 7 instrumentalists, 2015) in their programme for their concert on 17 November 2017 (7.30pm) at Psappha St Michaels, 36-38 George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 5DG. This concert is part of the New Music North West Festival. Tickets available here at Psappha’s website.

In this work the fantasy of Lewis Carrroll’s Alice in Wonderland acts as a metaphor for the inner workings of the piece, but ultimately it is written as a kind of ‘musical garden’ in which patterns evolve and order interacts with freedom. The motivation is to celebrate the miracle of nature, and draw attention to mankind’s urgent need to do a better job of looking after it.

The concert also includes works by Mark Anthony Turnage, Brian Elias and Philip Cashian, and will be conducted by Nicholas Kok.


Performance of Beethoven Piano Sonata Op.14 no.1 on Thursday 5th October

I recently performed Beethoven’s charming early piano sonata in E major, Op.14 no.1 in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester University on Thursday 5th October at 13.10. In the same concert the Quatuor Danel played Beethoven’s arrangement of the very same piece in F major – did Beethoven originally conceive this for string quartet? The Quatuor Danel just happen to be one of the best string quartets in the world – so no pressure on my performance then!


Premiere of Kinderszenen for solo piano, 8 August 2017

I was delighted to perform the world premiere of my new piano piece, Kinderszenen on 8th August 2017 in l’Eglise Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens at Cissé, in the Poitou region of France. This performance was included in the Concerts en nos Villages series, which runs alongside the ARAM-Poitou Summer Academy in late July / early August, during which I also performed works by Schubert, Beethoven, Fauré, George Crumb and Morton Feldman.

I’ve now uploaded a recording of the premiere onto Soundcloud, which you can listen to.

I was also very happy to be teaching on the Composition Masterclass at ARAM-Poitou alongside Peter Swinnen from 5th-12th August.


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