rough for opera #12

HE/HIMSELFIE | programme note and biogs


Josh Spear (composer)

Josh Spear and Richard Dodwell (text)


Josh Spear

Richard Dodwell

Lewis Bretherton (countertenor)

programme note and biogs:

The piece attempts to raise the underrepresented issues surrounding male body image, such as Manorexia and Body Complex whilst referencing the modern day phenomenon that is “Selfie” culture and works by key figures including Foucault and Freud. The performers create different worlds on stage, as they inhabit different characters and concepts, delineated clearly, and sometimes unclearly, using audio, movement and video.

Josh Spear has recently completed a Master’s degree in Composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he studied with Edward Jessen and received the Director’s Prize for Excellence in Music Composition. He is a grateful Trinity College London Scholar and a graduate of the University of Manchester. In 2014, his first large-scale theatre piece, That Woman, incorporating live film and audio was premiered at the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival. He is currently working more closely with Bastard Assignments, an experimental collective working in cross-disciplinary arts. At present he is writing a Musical for Toys and an electroacoustic EP to commemorate WW1.

Richard Dodwell is a performer of theatre, live art, opera and film. He has performed and collaborated alongside a variety of artists, academics and makers of performance including David Hoyle, Paul Kindersley, Philip Venables, Katherine Angel, Josh Spear and Nick Blackburn. As of 2015 he is a founding member of Chris Goode’s new experimental performance ensemble Ponyboy Curtis.

Thanks to House of Ivory and Duncan Stephenson

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst (30 mins, scenes)

Aaron Holloway-Nahum (composer)

Peter Jones (librettist)

Presented by The Riot Ensemble

Aaron Holloway-Nahum (conductor)

Benedict Nelson (Baritone)                                        

Rupert Enticknap (Countertenor)                              

Ausias Garrigos (Bass Clarinet)

Andy Connington (Trombone)

Bartosz Glowacki (Accordion)

James Leveridge (Percussion)

Ben Wolstenholme (Double Bass)

programme note and biogs:

 In 1969, the world was gripped by a race.  It was the last great adventure – sailing solo non-stop around the world.  Donald Crowhurst, a 36 year old engineer and keen weekend sailor, threw his hat in the ring for the £5,000 Golden Globe prize.  He set sail from Teignmouth in a brand new, untested trimaran.  It soon became apparent that the boat, and her captain, were not up to the job. He couldn’t go on into the dangerous waters of the Southern Ocean.  But he couldn’t go back either – his family home was mortgaged to the hilt and failure was not an option.  Alone at sea, Crowhurst found a third way.  In a world before GPS, he began to lie about his progress in telegrams sent home.  Circling the Falklands for weeks (after a steak supper in a small South American port), he planned to rejoin the race after the others rounded Cape Horn and limp in last.  But fate had a different plan in mind.  The race leader, the poet-mariner Bernard Moitessier, decided never to return to Europe and sailed off around the world again, finally landing in Tahiti.  Fellow Brit Nigel Tetley, so sure that Crowhurst was hot on his tail, pushed his yacht so hard that he sank just days from home.  Crowhurst was going to win the race.  His logs would be examined by the race committee and the lie would be exposed.

When his yacht was finally found festooned in weed and abandoned in the Sargasso Sea by a passing postal vessel, Crowhurst and his heavy ship’s chronometer were nowhere to be found.  The only clue to what had happened was a series of logbooks: one containing the fake journey round the world, one showing his true progress, and one detailing the terrifying thoughts of a man trying and failing to stay sane alone on the ocean: the strange, agonising battles of Donald Crowhurst.  The last entry reads: IT IS THE MERCY.

Aaron Holloway-Nahum has recently written pieces for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Atea Wind Quintet, and is currently writing a 40’ set of variations for the HOCKET piano duo.  In 2014, Aaron was the Polonsky Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival and a resident of Copland House.  He will be a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Centre this summer. Aaron is the Artistic Director of The Riot Ensemble, and an active advocate for new music in his writing on I Care If You Listen, New Music Box, and his own blog.

Peter Jones is a freelance TV Producer and Director, working in classical music and opera. He has written scripts for many high profile broadcast events, including the Last Night of the Proms for BBC TV, seen by millions worldwide. He writes poetry and this is his first opera.

The Riot Ensemble

Psychological Tales | programme note and biogs

Psychological Tales

Composers (in programme order):

Jonathan Woolgar

Ed Scolding

Lloyd Coleman

Presented and performed by The Hermes Experiment

The Hermes Experiment

Héloïse Werner (soprano)

Oliver Pashley (clarinet) Anne Denohlm (harp)

Marianne Schofield (double bass)

Hanna Grzeskiewicz (co-director, The Hermes Experiment)

programme note and biogs:

Psychological Tales is an exploration of psychological states through the ages using contemporary music. The show consists of three short dramatic works by Jonathan Woolgar, Lloyd Coleman and Ed Scolding, which explore compelling mental narratives in texts dating from biblical times to the twenty-first century. The three pieces will be interspersed with free improvisation based on graphic scores, which have been specifically created for this project.

Jonathan Woolgar is a composer who is particularly interested in music as drama and music for the stage. His work draws from a wide range of musical experience, aiming to engage every kind of listener. Follow on Twitter @JonathanWoolgar and listen at

Ed Scolding has a strong interest in collaboration and drama. His music has been described as ‘subtle and polished’ (Bachtrack), ‘raw, authentic’ (Nefarious Magazine) ‘succinct, witty and apt’ (Norwich Evening News). Recent projects include dance work BRUT (RPS/Ideastap), opera Adrift (Gestalt Arts) and orchestra work Thrown (Sinfonia Newydd). Ed completed his MMus at Royal Academy of Music in 2011 with support from sources including Arts Council Wales.

Born in South Wales, Lloyd Coleman studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music until July 2014. His music has been performed by many leading ensembles, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Aurora Orchestra, Sacconi Quartet, Endymion, New London Chamber Ensemble, The Hermes Experiment and the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales.

The Hermes Experiment Park Lane Group Young Artists 2015/16 and winners of Nonclassical’s Battle of the Bands 2014, The Hermes Experiment is an ensemble of four young professional musicians passionate about contemporary and experimental music, inspired to create something innovative and unique. Capitalising on their deliberately idiosyncratic combination of instruments, the ensemble regularly commissions new works, as well as creating their own innovative arrangements and venturing into live free improvisation.

Anne Denholm, harp

Originally from South West Wales, Anne Denholm is one of Britain’s leading young harpists and is earning a reputation for her musical interpretations and powerful performances. Twice winner of the RAM Skaila Kanga Harp Prize and second prize-winner at the Wales International Harp Festival 2014, Anne has given solo recitals across South Wales, Cambridge and London, in addition to performing concertos by Mozart, Handel, Pierné and Glière. In 2010 she reached the string category finals of the BBC Young Musician, and in 2013 was awarded the Cambridge University Donald Wort prize for excellence in music performance. Anne is committed to new music, and has been premiering new works for solo harp since 2006. She is a founding member of The Hermes Experiment, Park Lane Group Young Artists for 2015/16, UK Young Artists of the Year 2014, and winners of Nonclassical’s ‘Battle of the Bands’ 2014.

Anne is most grateful for the support of the Arts Council of Wales, the Headley Trust, Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the James Pantyfedwen Trust and the Olive Jenkins Bursary.

Oliver Pashley, clarinet

Oliver Pashley is a London-based clarinettist, an Artist Fellow in residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and member of Southbank Sinfonia 2015. He has worked with orchestras and ensembles including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, and the Haffner Wind Octet.

Oliver was a Britten-Pears Young Artist for 2014 and 2015, and is returning in June to perform with the Britten Pears Orchestra under Oliver Knussen. As a soloist he has performed concerti across London and the East of England, and following an unconducted performance of the Mozart Concerto with the Bristol Ensemble in October last year, plans to work with students at the Guildhall School this July to direct John Adam’s Gnarly Buttons from the front of the ensemble.

Oliver works as an administrator for Apollo Music Projects, a charity bringing classical music to those children who would otherwise not experience it, and is also a contributor for the online Hong Kong music journal Interlude.

Marianne Schofield, double bass

Marianne is currently a postgraduate double bass student at the Royal Academy of Music, where she studies jointly with Graham Mitchell and Dominic Seldis, having previously graduated with a degree in Music from the University of Cambridge. Marianne enjoys a diverse array of performance engagements and is especially committed to presenting new music in an engaging way, thoroughly enjoying the challenges and surprises involved in performing contemporary works and collaborating closely with composers. As well as being a founder member of the acclaimed contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment, she was principal double bass of the London Sinfonietta Academy 2013 and recently joined the London Sinfonietta on a tour to Poland. Marianne is also active as a performer, improviser and arranger as a member of the five-piece folk band The Coach House Company, who have performed at venues including Cecil Sharp House, The Forge, Green Note and upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s, and as part of the Wilderness and London Folk Festivals.

Marianne is hugely grateful to the Headley Trust for the support of her postgraduate studies.

Héloïse Werner, soprano / co-director

Born in Paris, Héloïse was a member of the ‘Maîtrise de Radio France’ and studied the cello at the Conservatoire Maurice Ravel. She then read music at Clare College, Cambridge, where she was also a choral scholar. She currently studies singing with Janice Chapman. Recent operatic roles have included: The Vixen in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen (CUOS), Love in Gluck’s Orfeo (CCMS). In July, she will be singing the role of Anya in Mannequin, a new opera by Maria Vatenina, as part of Tête à Tête Festival Opera.

As an ensemble singer, Héloïse regularly performs with choirs such as Polyphony, Philharmonia Voices, The Temple Singers, Armonico Consort and holds the soprano post in the choir of St Mary’s Bourne Street directed by Paul Brough.

Héloïse is also extremely interested in new music. She is singer and co-director for London based contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment. At Cambridge, she studied composition with Giles Swayne for two years, and in 2011, won the Clare College Carol Competition. She is also a founder member of acclaimed five-piece folk band The Coach House Company.

Hanna Grzeskiewicz – co-director

Hanna currently works as Producer for Shadwell Opera, Development Manager for Vocal Futures and Public Relations Specialist for the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, as well as working freelance in opera and theatre production, concert and event management, and PR. Her most recent project was Shadwell Opera’s Speech Acts, the critically-acclaimed double bill of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at The Courtyard Theatre, later toured around community centres in Tower Hamlets.

She is the Co-Director of contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment made up of harp, clarinet, soprano and double bass

Previously Hanna worked in Sponsorship and Development at a leading classical music agency, HarrisonParrott, where she worked on high profile, award-winning projects involving the London Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

Hanna is a graduate from Cambridge University, where she read History. During her time at Cambridge, she worked on a number of projects, which included producing the Cambridge University Opera Society (CUOS) production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen at West Road Concert Hall.