rough for opera #10

ROUGH FOR OPERA #10 | 17.11.14 | programme notes + bios




for programme notes and composer and performer biogs read more

R.I.O.T (20 mins)

  Jenni Watson (music)

Jenni Watson/Lucan Mills (libretto)

  Presented by fUEL productions

  Nira King teenage girl

Wadè teenage boy/shopkeeper/father

Lucan Mills narrator

  Graham Henderson Bass Guitar

Alex Villar Electric Guitar

Ric Elsworth Drums

Jenni Watson piano/MD

  R.I.O.T. looks at the involvement of teenagers in the 2011 London summer riots. With a loose storyline, it looks at class backgrounds, confused emotions, peer pressure and consequences. Exploring mob mentality, it offers an invitation to revisit the creation of our moral codes and our strength to maintain them.

  With rap artist Lucan Mills as narrator, R.I.O.T. is a blend of urban, hip-hop, RnB and more classical sounds. Abroad at the time, this is the composer’s initial reaction to now learning the true scale of events.

  Tonight’s performance represents the complete work in terms of duration, but at an early stage of development, being performed for the first time. Future performances could range from opera nights to clubs, and potentially into secondary schools for rap and composing workshops. A subtitle in this case would be Rap Inspired Opera for Teenagers.


Sought after as a virtuoso saxophonist, Jenni is also a strong composer and multi-instrumentalist, making her one of the most unique artists to emerge on the classical-contemporary scene in recent years. Within composing projects, she explores a link between accessibility and creativity. As a composer, Jenni’s notable commissions include the Liverpool Biennial Festival 2010 (RLPO 10/10 Ensemble) and Hallé Harmony Youth Orchestra. She is published by Astute Music and Wavemusic.

  As a performer, she has worked with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, European Union Youth Orchestra, and performed concertos with the RNCM’s Concert Orchestra and Wind Orchestra.


 Ric is a freelance Percussionist based in London. He studied at the Royal College of Music and works as a session musician, mainly for the bands Foals, Bastille and the London Contemporary Orchestra. He studied at Chethams School of Music with Jenni, and has played at the Latitude Festival.


Graham studied for his BMus at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has since played & recorded with So Solid Crew and Ella Eyre. His main influences are Michael Jackson, Avishai Cohen, Jamiroquai and Royksopp. Although his first study is drums, these days he mainly plays bass in groups ranging from jazz, funk & electronica to heavy metal, rock & hip-hop.


 Originally from Zurich, Switzerland, Nira King moved to London in 2013 to pursue a career in music. She has been taking singing lessons since her earliest childhood. In college she started to get classical training by opera singer Esther Levy. At the same time she enrolled at the Jazz Conservatoire of Zurich where she received one-on-one vocal lessons and was part of a jazz band and, amongst others, performed at the Zurich playhouse. In the summer of 2014 Nira successfully completed a BTEC Vocal Diploma at Tech Music School London. During that year she performed with her band at Shepherds Bush Hall. She is currently studying for a BA in Music Business at BIMM London.


An upcoming UK Rap Artist, originally from Southampton. Lucan is a fresh, young talent delivering real lyrics and well-constructed verses drawing inspiration from life experiences. Lucan shot to the competitive music industry by winning the 2007 UK Channel U competition, defeating a bunch of talented and prospective acts in the UK. Lucan has performed at various events with Chipmunk, G-Unit, Ironik, Kano, N Dubz, Tinie Tempah and has freestyled on-stage with Ed Sheeran. He also came 4th out of 9000 artists in Open Mic UK competition. Lucan has played shows at Ronnie Scott’s, Proud Camden, and The Bedford.


After being Inspired by the music of the 60s, Alex Villar, who grew up in Brazil, decided to take up the Guitar at the age of 11. Then going on to be taught by Violinist and composer Barney Smith, he moved to London to Study at Tech Music school and work as a session musician, where he regularly performs with artists in Genres ranging from Latin, Jazz , Folk, Rock and Hip- Hop.


Wadè is a London based singer, songwriter and producer specialising in R’n’Band soul music. For the past five years Wadè has been perfecting his craftin digital music production, singing and songwriting. Having gained experince performing on stage alongside various musicians around London,he is finally bringing his own unique material to the forefront.


  The Dressing Room (14 mins)

  Caroline Wilkins (music and libretto)

Joe Austin (director)

  Caroline Wilkins performer

  THE DRESSING ROOM The scenario takes place in a backstage dressing room of an opera house, where a singer prepares for her role and reflects on her curious existence in this fictional world, the historical recreation of which is highlighted by the presence of a gramophone. She enters into dialogue with her counterpart on shellac disc, exploring her memory as she re-embodies dramatic moments from operatic roles, and interacting with this early recording / sound reproducing machine.

  The Dressing Room is a one act opera adapted from an earlier work of mine, Arias for Phonograph and Singers, which was produced by Chamber Made Opera, Melbourne in 1993. This is the first performance of the new version, which by no means replaces the former, both works being fully scored. Nor is it my intention to remain the sole performer of a work which now exists independently and is thus open to other interpretations.


Dr. Caroline Wilkins comes from a background of new music performance, composition and theatre, and has worked extensively on collaborative productions involving a combination of these disciplines. After studying piano and composition at the Royal College of Music she moved to Sydney and held instrumental improvisation / new music theatre classes at the Conservatorium of Music. As a performer she collaborated in projects and productions of new-form theatre/music theatre whilst pursuing parallel studies in voice and theatre skills at the Drama Action Centre, Sydney. In 1987 she was awarded an Australia Council grant for further study in new music theatre composition with Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. Since this time Wilkins’s music has received performances, prizes and broadcasts worldwide, and has been selected on numerous occasions by the ISCM World Music Days. She was awarded the Karl-Sczuka prize from South West German Radio in 2000 for her radiophonic composition Mecanica Natura.  Having completed a practice-based PhD in sound-theatre at Brunel University in 2012, she collaborated with Oded Ben-Tal and Rees Archibald on an intermedial opera Zaum: Beyond Mind, first shown at ‘rough for opera’ in 2012, then at Sonorities Festival 2012 and Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival in 2013 with director Joe Austin.


Joe studied a joint honours music and drama degree at Hull University. Previous opera productions include Wagner’s Siegfried (Opera North); Haydn’s Lo Speziale (Retrospect Ensemble); Cavalli’s La Calisto (HGO) Stephen McNeff’s Vivienne (Tête à Tête); Britten’s Albert Herring (Surrey Opera and HGO);Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Handel’s Orlando, Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (Ryedale Festival); Britten’s The Prodigal Son (Grimeborn Festival and Ryedale Festival). As assistant director Joe has worked with Richard Jones, David Alden, Aletta Collins, Tom Cairns and Erica Whyman at companies such as ENO, Opera North and Old Vic Theatre.

  Joe runs his own residential course, has taught at Morley Opera School, and the Italian Opera Summer School. 

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  Timothy Cape and Sam Wilson (composers)

  Presented by Bastard Assignments

  Sam Wilson performer

  “Because that is perceived to be the hardest task” is a piece for Temple Blocks and voice, centred around recordings of a conversation between the two creators of the piece, Tim and Sam. Exploring memory and rhythmic nuances in casual speech, this piece is personal to the performer and therefore has no score, is part semi-improvised and part acutely structured. It was devised collaboratively.


Timothy Cape is a composer who is interested in theatrical possibilities of musical performance. Recent projects have explored the use of language as a tool for a performance’s introspection, and the inherent musicality contained in the nuances of conversational speech, leading to discoveries that have bled into his instrumental work, as well as stimulating further experimentation in theatrical and visually informed works. He curates and performs with the Bastard Assignments collective.


Sam Wilson is passionate about exploring the dramatic and vocal aspects of percussion performance. Recent projects include Julian Philips’ How the Whale Became at the Royal Opera House, a Faster Than Sound project working with Max de Wardener, Maria Carlyle and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and Goldfrapp’s Medea for the National Theatre. Sam writes and performs regularly with composer/electro artist Anna Meredith and hip-hop comedy act Abandoman.