|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
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?
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
|Concerto Grosso performed by Academy of Saint Martin in the Field||CLASSICAL COMMONWEALTH Part 2||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.||Errollyn Wallen unravels more stories of how classical music fused with local musical traditions across the British Commonwealth, speaking to acclaimed South African double-bassist Leon Bosch, Canadian indigenous composers Cris Derksen and T. Patrick Carrabre, and the Jamaican musical polymath Peter Ashbourne, who works across the genres of classical, jazz and reggae.
Errollyn explores the remarkable hybrid musical identities at play in the nations of South Africa and Jamaica - and tells the fascinating and complex story of how the music of Canada's indigenous communities has been celebrated by a new generation of composers and performers seeking to capture their cultural "in-between"-ness in sound.
Errollyn is also joined by the music historians Stephen Banfield and Wayne Weaver, as well as the Thai-American cellist and researcher Jon Silpayamanant, to explore challenging questions around our reception (and sometimes neglect) of this music in a postcolonial era. In celebrating and championing this repertoire - how much do we also need to confront ideas of musical colonialism? What does this all tell us about how musical culture was disseminated - and sometimes imposed - across the British Empire? And what should we make of it today?
An Overcoat Media production for BBC Radio 3
Producer: Steven Rajam
|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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