errollyn wallen
Errollyn Wallen’s piano quintet “Music for Tigers” (2006) is as picturesque as Mr. Snow’s work, if not as overtly comic. But Ms. Wallen’s vital rhythms and inventive melodies keep her work lively, and the players — Alicia Choi and Heidi Schaul-Yoder, violinists; Eva Gerard, violist; Mimi Yu, cellist; and Hsiang John Tu, pianist — gave her work, like the others, a firm, warm-spirited and finely polished performance.

Article by Allan Kozinn
NY Times 26/07/2010
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What got you started?
Coming out of hospital after an operation when I was five to find a piano in the living room. My parents had to beg me to stop practising.

What was your big breakthrough?
Forming Ensemble X in 1990 to perform my music. I wanted to give concerts I would like to go to myself. At our first concert, we handed out Mars bars.

What's the biggest myth about composing?
That it's a rarefied activity carried out by dead white men in wigs.

What song would feature on the soundtrack to your life?
Dido's Lament from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. There's something transcendent about it.

Do you suffer for your art?
Sometimes. While I was writing the oratorio Carbon-12 for Welsh National Opera earlier this year, I told myself I could eat as much as I liked as long as I kept going: I gained 10lbs.

What's your favourite film?
Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. I first saw it as a student, and loved the fact I wasn't always sure what was going on.

In the movie of your life, who plays you?
Pam Grier. I'd like to be as sexy as her.

What's your favourite museum?
The Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia in Rome. There's an amazing Etruscan sarcophagus of a married couple, both wearing mysterious smiles.

What have you sacrificed for your art?
Daytime television.

Complete this sentence: At heart I'm just a frustrated ...
Ballet dancer. When I was 12 I wanted to go to ballet school, but my aunt and uncle said they wouldn't send me because they'd never seen a black ballet dancer before. It was terribly painful.

What's the greatest threat to music?
The lack of silence. People seem frightened of silence, yet you have to revere it in order to really celebrate music.

What advice would you give a young composer?
Follow your ears.

What work of art would you most like to own?
Howard Hodgkin's painting Rain. It inspired the mix of one of my songs.

Is there anything about your career you regret?
Not playing the organ for Billy Smart's circus. They called me once about an advert I'd placed offering myself as a keyboard player. I told them I didn't play the organ; now I wish I'd given it a go. In short

Career: Has written songs, chamber music and operas, and released three solo albums. She performs songs from the Errollyn Wallen Songbook at Riverside Studios, London W6 (020-8237 1111) on Thursday.

High point: "Seeing a photograph of my album Errollyn floating in a shuttle in outer space. An astronaut friend had taken it with him."

Low point: "Getting accidentally locked in a basement practice room for 11 hours in 2000."

Interview by Laura Barnett
The Guardian 29/07/2008
www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/jul/29/classicalmusicandopera1

Concerto Grosso performed by Academy of Saint Martin in the Field QUAMINO'S MAP: new opera for Chicago Opera Theatre Errollyn Wallen Composer of the Week Jan 3 - 7 2022
Watch this thrilling performance of Concerto Grosso in a filmed performed by ASMF and conducted by John Butt. Live on Facebook and YouTube at 7.30pm January 21st 2022. Music by Errollyn Wallen
Libretto by Deborah Brevoort

A story about the enduring pull of freedom – and the ends to which people will go to achieve it.

Juba Freeman arrives in London after winning his freedom from slavery by fighting for the British in the Revolutionary War. Thrown headfirst into British society, he meets Amelia Alumond, a member of the British Black gentry, and reconnects with other ex-slaves who are struggling to build new lives for themselves as free men. Inspired by historical events, the opera sheds a light on a forgotten corner of history – and challenges current assumptions of what life was like in 18th-century London for a person of colour.

Saturday, April 23, 2022 @ 7:30pm
Friday, April 29, 2022 @ 7:30pm
Sunday, May 1, 2022 @ 3pm


#cotmap
Donald Macleod chats to composer Errollyn Wallen about her heritage and musical upbringing.

Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen has been called a “renaissance woman of contemporary music”. She’s a remarkably versatile and prolific composer, pianist and songwriter and one of our most in-demand musical voices today. She was the first black woman to have a piece performed at the Proms. In 1998, her music opened the 2012 Paralympic games. She's even been performed in space, aboard Nasa’s STS115 mission. Wallen writes in a kaleidoscopic range of styles; her music constantly crosses and re-crosses musical boundaries and it brims over with a sense of adventure and delight. All this week, Donald Macleod gets to know Errollyn as she dials into his studio from her Scottish lighthouse where she retreats to concentrate on her work.
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