How I came to work with Juliet Fraser on Voice(s)

Wednesday 30 September 2015

In about 5 weeks time Juliet Fraser will give the first performance of my new piece for soprano and tape at the Pound, Corsham. I thought it might be interesting to briefly chart how I came to work with her and end up co-curating a programme of music that will be toured throughout 2015/16.

I first saw Juliet perform at hcmf// in 2005 as part of EXAUDI vocal ensemble, which she co-founded with the composer James Weeks. They were performing a programme of music by Christopher Fox who I had just begun studying composition with at Huddersfield University (Fox also has a piece in the Voice(s) concert).  I was impressed with the music and the performance and I rushed to buy EXAUDI’s cd of the same music on the NMC label (Highly recommended!). Years went by as I cemented myself as a fan of EXAUDI by attending more of their concerts.

It wasn’t until late 2010 when I was selected as part of a Sound and Music (SAM) call for composers, which involved composing a piece for EXAUDI that they would perform in late 2011, that I actually met Juliet. At the same time as composing my EXAUDI piece I saw Juliet perform a solo show at the Cello Factory in London. It was at this concert where Juliet’s phenomenal performance, particularly of parts from George Aperghis’s Recitations, made me want to compose a solo piece for her. After a recording session for my EXAUDI piece in January 2011 I approached Juliet about the possibility of collaborating on a new piece. She was warm and encouraging to the idea and we agreed to exchange emails to explore the idea.

In mid 2011 we met to chat in person about a possible collaboration again and I gave her some scores and recordings of my music for her to look at and listen to. We agreed that we’d keep in touch and see if a collaboration would fit into her schedule and quite what the project would be like. For whatever reason the possibility of collaborating seemed to lose steam after this meeting and there were no further exchanges for quite some time.

However in early 2013 I began to think about writing a piece for voice and tape and was still interested in collaborating with Juliet.  I approached her again by email and come late 2013 we agreed and committed to begin planning the project that would later become Voice(s). There was still a long way to go to get the project in a state where we could pitch it to promoters/funders and fortunately in late 2014 the Pound’s enthusiasm for my work and the Voice(s) project brought it alive. The long gestation period is not something we were particularly after yet there are advantages, particularly in allowing ideas to grow and develop over an extended period of time that have suited my collaboration with Juliet.

pound arts residency