errollyn wallen
CAUTIONARY TALES



Opera commissioned by Opera North

Guardian.co.uk Photography: Robert Workman 10/01/2012

HORSEPLAY

The most striking work by far was one which has been played numerous times in Europe, composed–oh horror!!–in the century before this one. But Belize-born Errollyn Wallen gave her ballet Horseplay, which has been performed numerous times since 1998.

The four movements, originally for four male dancers, take the horse-related words “brooding”, “swift”, “rocking” and “race”, though hardly literally. (Probably the dancers usually supply the images.) After more consciously cerebral pieces last night, it was a pleasure to hear Mr. Wallen play with more familiar aspects. Her hunting horn duos were as mysterious as the dark introductions to the other movements. The jazzy second section had a Sonny Rollins-style sax solo, montaged first against strings and then the lower brass. The finale, “race” was no galop: it was a subtle crescendo, so nuanced that one was drawn into it almost subconsciously. Read More

ConcertoNet.com Harry Rolnick 26/09/2009

WORLD AIDS DAY

The finale by Errolyn Wallen is an exultant spiritual, with soloists Rebecca Bottone and Roderick Williams leading the congregation like Baptist preachers. Read More

The Guardian Alfred Hickling 04/12/2008

WALLEN at Tête-à-Tête Festival


Among the highlights of the eclectic Tête à Tête Festival is Errollyn Wallen's family-inspired show. She tells Time Out about how she and her brother turned blood into music.

... With over 30 shows to choose from, the only problem is deciding which three to see each day. One that stands out is 'Wallen', a collaboration between siblings Errollyn and Byron Wallen - the classical composer/songwriter and her jazz trumpeter brother. Read More

TimeOut London Jonathan Lennie 07/08/2009

Errolly Wallen and Friends at Le Poisson Rouge

Rated Top Live Show - (Le) Poisson Rouge; Tuesday 14th July 2009
Born in Belize, Errollyn Wallen skipped out on her studies at the Dance Theater of Harlem to pursue a composer’s career in England. Wallen, whose oeuvre touches on everything from chamber-music serenity to African-chant bliss, is shamefully obscure here in the U.S., but here’s your chance to catch up; her marquee-name friends in tonight’s program, titled “Are You Worried About the Rising Cost of Funerals,” include local toy-piano marvel Margaret Leng Tan and British alt-folk maverick John Wesley Harding. Read More

TimeOut New York Steve Smith Issue 719 : Jul 9–15, 2009

Private Lives at Hampstead Theatre

The staging of the inter-couple fighting is masterful; one watches with glee. Katrina Lindsay's sets are seductively elegant and Errollyn Wallen's music, composed for the show, is dangerous in exactly the right way - full of eloping notes. Read More

The Observer Kate Kellaway 01/02/2009


The laughs survive - but they are often uneasy, just like Errollyn Wallen's splendidly turbulent piano score which punctuates the action. Private Lives has suddenly become a play that makes you feel as well as laugh. Read More

The Telegraph Charles Spencer 30/01/2009

Tête-à-Tête Festival (Errollyn Wallen Songbook)

The first night closed with the multi-talented classical composer and singer-songwriter Errollyn Wallen playing a selection from her ‘Songbook’ at the piano. In a smouldering jazzy voice and with lightning fingers, she whisked us through her witty and wacky world. She even had a special guest to play the cello sonata she wrote for him – that’s right, the ubiquitous Matthew Sharp.

Time Out London Jonathan Lennie 31/07/2008


The evening closed with songs composed and sung, to her own piano accompaniment, by Errollyn Wallen, whose fractured sense of rhythm, harmony and melody ensured that the results never coalesced into merely easy listening. Titles such as My Hitler and Magritte Man provide a hint of her verbal imagination.

Evening Standard Nick Kimberley 01/08/2008




Faultline

The week's second premiere was Shobana Jeyasingh's Faultline, which from its opening - a choppy back-projection of Asian youths engaged in enigmatic street business - seems to shudder with tension. Its creative starting point was Gautam Malkani's 2006 novel Londonstani, whose characters communicate in a blurred patois of text-speak and Punjabi, and Jeyasingh's danced exchanges clearly reflect these mixed influences.

As her eight dancers stalk and prowl, they intercut the hand gestures of hip hop with challenging finger clicks and the lotus and butterfly spreads of bharat natyam. The vocabulary of martial arts is also in evidence, but this is less combative than self-assertive; a community under scrutiny, Jeyasingh seems to be saying, cannot afford to let its guard down. This watchfulness extends to the duets, whose potential for tenderness is repeatedly undercut by macho ritual.

Over this, Jeyasingh draws an extraordinary score. Soprano Patricia Rosario appears, singing material composed by Errollyn Wallen alongside a manipulated recording of Rosario's voice by Scanner. This lends further layers of incident and complexity, skilfully drawn together in the final passage, a thrilling ensemble statement of rhythm and order contained in a single off-centre square of light. In synthesis, Faultline tells us, is resolution.

The Observer 11/03/2007

The Silent Twins

4 Stars Almeida, London
George Hall
Tuesday July 10 2007

Drawn from Marjorie Wallace's book of the same title, April de Angelis's libretto for Errollyn Wallen's new opera tells the enigmatic story of identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons. Born in 1963 in Barbados but brought up in south Wales, their intense relationship separated them from their parents and community, and eventually saw them incarcerated in Broadmoor in 1982 following a chaotic and seemingly exhibitionistic crime spree. It ended within hours of their release 11 years later, when June, the elder of the two, suddenly and mysteriously died. In between, it consisted of love, rivalry and hatred.

The twins not only baffled their parents, but also various schools, social agencies and eventually psychiatrists. Declining to speak to others, they focused exclusively on each other. Their self-published teenage literary productions were prodigious.

Wallen's score seizes the opportunity of defining the twins' isolated, self-created world through music that is immediate without being obvious. She is aided by two remarkable performances from Alison Crookendale as Jennifer and Talise Trevigne as June. Not only do they resemble twins, but their body language is eerily suggestive of mutual identification as well as mutual mistrust.

The alternately florid and frenetic instrumental writing - vividly performed by the Almeida Ensemble under conductor Tim Murray - is perfectly complemented by vocal lines that impress with their sharply etched character. There are deft parodies of 1970s pop styles in scenes that celebrate the hectic imagination of the twins' literary creations, full of edgy behaviour and disco-dancing. Wallen revels in the possibilities here, with a mock-Saturday Night Fever sequence in which the absurdly sensational aspects of the twins' fantasies are almost redeemed by their sheer energy. Their ghastly attempt to win affection from a couple of boys by having sex with them in a church is realised in another tragicomic episode.

Five other singers share a dozen supporting roles. La Verne Williams offers a sumptuous voice and infinite concern as the twins' mother, Gloria. Devon Harrison is priceless as Mark, Jennifer's tongue-tied pen pal, whose arioso, I Live in Wokingham, is a gem. Throughout, the composer and librettist pull off a feat of ambiguity by combining comedy with desperation while avoiding sentimentality; the scenes in Broadmoor are painfully funny.

Martin Constantine's production, visualised in Peter McKintosh's straightforward designs, is assured. The show's weak point is diction, which is ironic given that the piece is all about communication. The opera itself is an unequivocal hit.

The Guardian
Four Stars
To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited Music site, go to music.guardian.co.uk

PHOTOGRAPHY voted NPR's Top Ten Classical Albums of 2016 MIGHTY RIVER selected for PRSF New Music Biennale 2017 CONCERTO GROSSO IN OPENING CONCERT OF Classical:NEXT
PHOTOGRAPHY went straight into the top 20 of the UK Classical Charts and was voted USA's National Public Radio's Top Ten Classical Albums of 2016. The new orchestral album features the Cello Concerto (Matt Sharp, Orchestra X, conductor Nicholas Kok, HUNGER, Photography and In Earth.

http://nmcrec.co.uk/recording/photography
Exploring themes of slavery and freedom, Mighty River combines contemporary classical techniques with spirituals which were introduced to Hull in 1871 by the Fisk Jubilee Singers – an African-American a cappella choir of ex-slaves. The piece, written for orchestra, takes its inspiration from William Wilberforce the English politician, philanthropist and leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade who was, very fittingly, a native of Hull. Errollyn Wallen's brilliant CONCERTO GROSSO (commissioned by Orchestra of the Swan and published by Peters Edition) will be performed in the opening concert of Classical:NEXT in Rotterdam on May 17th. The performers are Chineke! featuring Chi-chi Nwanoku on double bass, Tai Murry, violin and Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano. Conductor is Shaun Matthew.
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