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.
Six Songs of Old Japanese Wisdom is available from Composers Edition.
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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.
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.
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!
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.
John Turner and myself have recently made a new recording of Kokopelli (for recorder and prepared piano). This will be included on a reissue of ‘John and Peter’s Whistling Book’, which will be available through Divine Art / Métier. Watch this space!
Misplaced Time Refound was shortlisted for a BASCA British Composers Award (Solo/Duo category) in 2016. You can hear Gavin Osborn’s performance of it (Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester, 25 February 2016) here.
I had the great privilege of performing Fauré’s Piano Quintet no. 2 with the Quatuor Danel in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Manchester on 25 November 2016. What an experience: Fauré is an absolute magician when it comes to harmony and texture.
I am grateful to the pianist Clare Hammond for her exquisitely sensitive performances of Five Preludes in St Briavels church, Gloucestershire on 19th February 2017, and in Dorstone House, Hay-on-Wye (part of the Hay-on-Wye Festival) on 24th July 2016.
I am writing a new string quartet for the Quatuor Danel inspired by Iceland’s incredible geology (which is hyperactive compared to most other places on earth). Can geological processes, such as eruption and effusion of lava, buckling and cracking of rock, erosion by wind, water and ice be represented by music? Can music evoke Iceland’s unique relationship between heat and cold, and the otherworldly atmosphere of its landscape? That is what I am trying to work out at the moment.
From 13-19 July 2016 I visited Iceland, a place I have always been fascinated by, and I walked the Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Thórsmörk, including the ascent to Fimmvörduháls, beneath the Eyjafjallajökull volcano (infamous for bringing European air travel to a halt in 2010).