Composing Myself starts 2023 as we mean to go on, with Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham embarking on a bracing, invigorating meander through the conversational hills with Icelandic composer and multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds. Subjects broached include the minutiae on how phonographs work and Ólafur’s formative teenage hardcore punk band Cone Heads, the long and winding road from hardcore bands to composing theBroadchurch score, and the development and creation of his ingenious, ground-breaking musical software Stratus.
Ólafur Arnalds is a multi-instrumentalist and composer - internationally known for his haunting musical style. He captivatingly combines elements of ambient, classical, electronic, pop and rock music. His recent album “re:member” (2018) follows the success of his innovative musical project Island Songs (2016). “re:member” features Ólafur’s new software, Stratus, which transforms the humble piano into a unique new instrument.
Ólafur has been praised for his extensive soundtrack work, including composing the score for ITV’s Broadchurch, for which he won the 2014 BAFTA for Best Original Music. He has been involved in various other media projects and his music appears in many films, television shows and advertisements.
Together with Barði Jóhannson (Bang Gang), Ólafur composed music for “Dyad 1909”, a Random Dance/Wayne McGregor project. This music was released as an album in 2009.
Furthermore, Arnalds formed the experimental techno project “Kiasmos” together with Janus Rasmussen. They have released two albums so far: “Blurred” (2017) and “Kiasmos” (2014).
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23. Anoushka Shankar43:44Anoushka Shankar is our guest on this latest episode of Composing Myself, beaming in from her home in London for a captivating chat with Wise Music Group Creative Director and CEO Gill Graham and Dave Holley. During the course of this enchanting conversation we learn how a childhood discovery of Peter and the Wolf led to a realisation of the power and imagery of music and her subsequent interest in playing the sitar, how studying with her father Ravi Shankar shaped Anoushka's musical discipline, how she fostered a conscious change of relationship with her instruments - “I had to find a way to see my instrument more as a friend than something scary”, how she “never rebelled around the music”… and indeed, the answer to the great question of where music comes from.https://www.anoushkashankar.com/To read a list of Anoushka Shankar’s accomplishments is to read many life stories in one: masterful sitarist; film composer; impassioned activist; the youngest and first female recipient of a British House of Commons Shield; the first Indian musician to perform live or to serve as presenter at the Grammy Awards with nine nominations under her belt, and the first Indian woman to be nominated; one of the first five female composers to have been added onto the UK A-level music syllabus. Immersed from a young age on the world stage, with over a quarter-century’s performing behind her, she is a singular, genre-defying artist across realms - classical and contemporary, acoustic and electronic.
22. Rufus Wainwright53:13It’s a real privilege this week to talk to one of the world’s most complete musicians, Rufus Wainwright, beaming in from a Philadelphia hotel room to join hosts, Wise Music group CEO and Creative Director Dave Holley and Gill Graham. In this fascinating chat we discover how a guitar case came to be Rufus’ first crib, the key difference between critics and composers and why “if there is no turmoil in the process it’s probably not a very good piece”, and a passion for opera bringing forth two majors works for the stage among a myriad of other gems and revelations. Unmissable.https://rufuswainwright.com/
21. Richard Rudolph57:50We travel to early-morning Santa Monica in this latest edition of Composing Myself, where multi-million-selling songwriter, record producer, music supervisor and label executive Richard Rudolph is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and fizzing with energy in his creative headquarters. In this fascinating hour-long chat, helmed by Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham, we take a journey through Richard’s illustrious, six-decade career - including a stop, of course, at a riveting retrospective on jointly producing Minnie Riperton - “one of the great loves of my life” - alongside Stevie Wonder. Unmissable.
20. Maja S. K. Ratkje47:12Norwegian vocalist and composer Maja S. K. Ratkje joins Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham in this latest episode of Composing Myself, beaming in from her basement home studio on the fringes of Oslo. Maja talks about how as a child her sound world of birdsong and languages influenced her music, the intention of “using classical music to say something about the lives we are living in our time”, studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music and the first piece she wrote for other people to perform, how her experimental improvisational work draws a parallel with extreme sports, and her environmental protest sound art project ‘Desibel’ - the world’s largest mobile horn loudspeaker system.https://ratkje.no/The performing composer Maja S. K. Ratkje is at the forefront of the musical avant-garde. Despite its boldness and originality, her music is meant for sharing. At its heart lies Ratkje’s own voice, an open door to her individual musicianship and a constant tool for realigning her work with natural expressions and human truths.Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen and Arne Nordheim all tantalized Ratkje during her studies. She played in a gamelan ensemble, worked with the experimental percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and joined the ensemble SPUNK as a vocalist, a move that would have a lasting impact on her day-to-day creativity.Ratkje’s exploration of her own voice’s timbral properties led to its involvement in the compositional process. In 2002, she released the album Voice, a catalogue of previously unexplored vocal production techniques fused with electronics that was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica. Ratkje’s exploration of the voice as an instrument came to maturity in Concerto for Voice (2004), commissioned by Radio France.Ratkje’s music frequently involves stark contrasts, more often in the delivery of balance and kinetic action than in the creation of shock or effect. Her ability to hold disparate materials in her grasp is as apparent as her care and restraint with that material. ‘Form is the most important aspect of composition and the reason I consider myself a composer,’ Ratkje once said.While many of Ratkje’s scores are notated, many stretch beyond the confines of traditional notation in aspiring to both greater precision and greater liberation. Some reveal her DNA as a performing and improvising musician; some ask performers to improvise or produce material themselves.Her music has links her to Norwegian identity and politics (Ro-Uro, 2014), to her beloved Japanese culture (Gagaku variations, 2002), to children under the age of three (Høyt oppe i fjellet, 2011) and to instruments as varied as the viol consort (River Mouth Echoes, 2008) and the world’s largest mobile horn speaker system (Desibel, 2009).Ratkje’s work Waves IIb was awarded Norway’s coveted Edvard Prize and was further honoured by UNESCO and the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. Ratkje was the inaugural winner of the Arne Nordheim Prize and was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2013. She has been Composer-In-Residence at numerous institutions and festivals, has contributed to well in excess of 100 albums and has written music for dance, radio plays and gallery installations. She is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.
19. Dickson Mbi46:03Cameroon-born, London-raised choreographer and composer Dickson Mbi is our guest on this week’s Composing Myself, beaming in from Glasgow for a riveting chat with Wise Music CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham. Hot topics discussed with this engaging and charismatic creative polymath include:- how Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry’s ‘7 seconds’ “was the song that smashed it for me” and pulled a young Dickson away from football- getting into dance “because of girls”- a chance discovery of his first popping crew after escaping a dance class in Covent Garden- being clandestinely enrolled in dance school by a friend’s dance tutor who saw limitless untapped potential - the importance of late-70s and early-80s funk - Earth, Wind & Fire, Cameo etc - on Dickson’s palette of influences and how he was given his first job in dance by Shalamar’s Jeffrey Daniel- why an “epic snare” is absolutely crucial- a life-changing return to Cameroon and the village where his parents grew up… “I really understood who I am as a person just from that experience”- how the sound of a tiger’s roar affects the human stomach!- why “when a matriarch falls, everything falls apart”https://www.dicksonmbi.com/Dickson Mbi was born in Cameroon and grew up in London where he studied at Lewisham College and London Contemporary Dance School. He is a world-renowned dancer in the Hip Hop dance community and best known for his popping skills which is integral to the work that he creates today. Dickson has featured in multiple TV campaigns including BALMAIN X H&M (2016), AUDI E TRON (2014), and was the face for LUCOZADE REVIVE (2012). Over the course of his career, he has worked with award-winning artists such as Russell Maliphant, Boy Blue Entertainment, Robbie Williams, Corrine Bailey-Rae, Black Eyed Peas and choreographed the 'Leave A Trace' music video for CHVRCHES. He is an award-winning choreographer and has been commissioned by several theatres, festivals and arts organisation. In 2018, Sadler's Wells Theatre commissioned a documentary ‘Street to Stage’ about Dickson's artistic journey for BBC4’s Danceworks series. Later that year, Sadler's Wells commissioned him to create work for their elderly company - The Company of Elders. In the following year, Dickson was commissioned by BBC Young Dancer to create the winning choreography UNSTRUNG performed by Max Revell. As a leader in his community, Dickson focuses on fostering the future generations of dancers with his partner Brooke Milliner in their battle crews Prototype and FIYA HOUSE. As a choreographer, Dickson enjoys making works for other companies as well as presenting his own works under Dickson Mbi Company. Well worth a listen.
18. Tarik O'Regan01:11:16British-American composer and force of nature Tarik O’Regan meets Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham in this whirlwind of an episode of Composing Myself. Conversational ping-pongs gently batted about the table this week include:- driverless taxis in San Francisco and “the dominance of tech” in our everyday lives- John-Paul Jones and the aborted arrow dance- a brief stint in banking- what the devil is a fugue?- long childhood car journeys listening to Led Zeppelin, Madonna and a selection of local Algerian oud players- a fascinating, globe-spanning family tree including great-great-great grandfather, renowned Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, and the influence it's had on Tarik’s musical output- the not-entirely-pressure-free task of composing for none other than the coronation of King Charles IIITarik is a brilliant raconteur and this ebullient episode is one of our best yet.https://www.tarikoregan.com/Tarik Hamilton O'Regan is a London-born composer based in San Francisco. In recent years much of his work has investigated and been influenced by his dual Arab and Irish heritages.Tarik is Composer-in-Residence with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO), where he is also overseeing an ambitious new commissioning initiative. The 2022/23 season sees performances by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Choir, the Carducci Quartet, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Alexander String Quartet, and PBO, and the televised world premiere of a commission from His Majesty King Charles III for The Coronation Service at Westminster Abbey.Tarik’s output, recognized with two GRAMMY® nominations and two Ivors®, has been recorded on over 40 albums, and is published exclusively by Novello. He maintains a longstanding commitment to education and service to the arts in general. Most recently, this has been recognized by his election to an Honorary Fellowship of Pembroke College, Oxford, and to the board of Yaddo, one of the oldest artists’ communities in the USA. Tarik was also included in the Washington Post’s annual list of creative artists “changing the classical landscape” for 2022.
17. Helen Grime53:20Scottish composer Helen Grime is this week’s guest on Composing Myself, talking to Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham about her life in and out of music. Melodic motifs on the conversational score today include her formative years studying the oboe, why a first rehearsal is more nerve-wracking than a premiere, experiences at Tanglewood - the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, why passing knowledge forward through teaching and learning is so important, and the nature of inspiration - “sometimes I seek it, and sometimes I really need it”. As ever, a joyful and enlightening hour.https://helengrime.com/The music of Helen Grime has been performed by leading orchestras around the world, among them the London Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductors who have championed her music include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Pierre Boulez, Kent Nagano, Oliver Knussen, George Benjamin, Daniel Harding, Marin Alsop and Thomas Dausgaard. Her music frequently draws inspiration from related artforms such as painting (Two Eardley Pictures, Three Whistler Miniatures), sculpture (Woven Space) and literature (A Cold Spring, Near Midnight, Limina) and has won praise in equal measure for the craftsmanship of its construction and the urgency of its telling.Born in 1981, Grime attended St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh and, following studies at the Royal College of Music in London, was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to attend Tanglewood Music Center in 2008. Between 2011 and 2015 she was Associate Composer to the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester and in 2016 was appointed Composer in Residence at Wigmore Hall in London. She was Lecturer in Composition at Royal Holloway, University of London, between 2010 and 2017 and is currently Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was appointed MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for services to music.
16. Judith Weir49:28It’s an exciting first for Composing Myself this week, with this episode’s guest holding a position in none other than The Royal Household of the United Kingdom. Judith Weir - Master of The King’s Music (and former Master of The Queen’s Music) – talks to Wise Music Group CEO Dave Holley and Creative Director Gill Graham about an illustrious life of creative adventure, from a fortuitous mentorship by Sir John Tavener to being appointed to a Royal position by Queen Elizabeth II. Stops along the way include the Battle of Stamford Bridge (“an iconic moment in English history”); how deadlines – “the composer’s curse” – are actually a big help; Judith’s inspiring work in the broader community; why singers are “the most amazing people in our profession”, and the myriad joys of blogging. A life less ordinary reflected on by a wonderfully eloquent composer.https://www.judithweir.com/Judith Weir (b 1954 to Scottish parents in Cambridge, England) studied composition with John Tavener, Robin Holloway and Gunther Schuller. On leaving Cambridge University in 1976 she taught in England and Scotland, and in the mid-1990s became Associate Composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Artistic Director of Spitalfields Festival. She was a Visiting Professor at Princeton (2001) Harvard (2004) and Cardiff (2006-13) and in 2014 was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music. Since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022, Weir is now Master of The King's Music. From 2015 to 2019 she was Associate Composer to the BBC Singers.She is the composer of several operas (written for Kent Opera, Scottish Opera, ENO and Bregenz) which have been widely performed. She has written orchestral music for the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras. Much of her music has been recorded, and is available on the NMC, Delphian and Signum labels. She blogs about her cultural experiences at www.judithweir.com.
15. Paul Mealor49:47Welsh composer Paul Mealor is our guest on this week’s episode of Composing Myself, presented by Wise Music Group CEO and Creative Director Dave Holley and Gill Graham. Topics covered across this warm and inspiring conversation include:- a childhood discovery of Iron Maiden -“people were just singing from the heart; they didn’t care about anything other than the music”- why boys get into heavy metal- the “visualness” of Debussy and Ravel- being “step friends” with Aled Jones- the benefits of daily composing in fending off writer’s block - “you’re not afraid of the blank manuscript”- Dylan Thomas’ influence on Roald Dahl- how his Military Wives Choir number one single changed the rules of the UK charts- composing for the Royal FamilyAs ever - not to be missed!https://www.paulmealor.com/Paul Mealor’s music has rapidly entered the repertoire of choirs and singers around the world; his music has been described as having, ‘serene beauty, fastidious craftsmanship and architectural assuredness… Music of deep spiritual searching that always asks questions, offers answers and fills the listener with hope…’. Mealor was catapulted to international attention when 2.5 billion people heard his motet, Ubi caritas, performed at the Royal Wedding Ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey, 29th April 2011.Mealor studied composition privately from an early age with John Pickard, at the University of York with Nicola LeFanu (1994-2002) and in Copenhagen with Hans Abrahamsen (1998-99). Since 2003 he has taught at the University of Aberdeen, where he is currently Professor in Composition, and has held visiting professorships in composition at institutions in Scandinavia and the United States.