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Tansy Davies

Cave photographs © London Sinfonietta, Manuel Harlan Tansy Davies © Rikard Österlund

studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Royal Holloway. In 2004 neon – a gritty collage of twisted funk written for the Composers Ensemble – quickly became her calling card. Since then her music has been championed internationally by ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, Ensemble intercontemporain, and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and at festivals including Ultima, Présences, and the Warsaw Autumn. Her work has been inspired by sources as diverse as Zaha Hadid (the trumpet concerto Spiral House), Anselm Kiefer (Falling Angel for ensemble) and the Troubadours (the song cycle Troubairitz). Between Worlds, a response to 9/11 with a libretto by Nick Drake, was premiered by English National Opera in 2015 (directed by Deborah Warner) and won a British Composer Award. Recent works include Re-greening for singing orchestra – for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain – and Forest, a concerto for four horns premiered by the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen. For the 18/19 season Davies was Composer in Residence at the Concertgebouw, composing Soul Canoe for the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble. In 2019 she became an Associate Professor of Composition at the Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana.

For more information please contact: Promotion Department Faber Music Ltd. Bloomsbury House 74–77 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DA +44(0)20 7908 5311 promotion@fabermusic.com

CAVE chamber opera in eight scenes for mezzo-soprano, tenor and ensemble with electronics. Text by Nick Drake


‘shimmeringly atmospheric soundscape’

Tansy Davies’s chamber opera Cave premiered in the vast warehouse space of The Printworks, London in summer 2018. Starring Mark Padmore and Elaine Mitchener, it was staged by the London Sinfonietta in association with the Royal Opera. Furthering the successful collaboration with poet Nick Drake, which in 2014 produced the BASCA-winning opera Between Worlds, this 60-minute work follows a grieving father’s quest for survival and renewal, in a world plagued by environmental disaster. Desperate to connect one last time with his daughter, a man enters a dark cave, triggering a journey into an underworld of spirits. Key to this opera’s success is the inspired pairing of two remarkable – and hugely contrasting – vocal talents. A lyric tenor is paired with an experimental vocalist whose contribution is a thrilling mixture of the fully notated and the wildly improvisatory. Sometimes the singers are worlds apart, elsewhere they loosely echo one another and, in some of the opera’s most poignant moments, their voices are melded together, in a strange alloy. The sheer range of vocal writing in the piece is astonishing: from pure-tone chants, winding cantabile icaros, and trilling birdsong imitations, to cries of anguish, guttural moans, and a series of terrifying cawing noises barked through a megaphone. Both singers shake rattles whilst

singing, and the mezzo plays bass drum in one of the opera’s several outbursts of wild shamanic energy. A pivotal work in Davies’s evolution as a composer, Cave unites a new-found spaciousness, and harmonic airiness with the looping grooves that have long driven her music. Across eight scenes, six instrumentalists create a richly alluring, glittering soundworld, prominently flecked with harp. At key moments the players take on solo roles: a horn rides the natural harmonics in broad upward surges, the clarinet duets in the stratosphere with the mezzo’s twittering vocalisations, and later a violin joins her in a folksy, lilting lullaby. Everything is couched in a vast, slowmoving cave of electronic sound (based on Davies’s darkly lustrous string orchestra work Dune of Footprints) which provides the beguiling harmonies underpinning the drama.

INSTRUMENTATION

cl(=bcl).bsn(=cbsn).hn.harp.vln.db – live electronics (1-2 operators): sampler/effects applied to the vocal performers FP: 20.6.2018, The Printworks, London, UK: Mark Padmore/Elaine Mitchener/London Sinfonietta/ Geoffrey Paterson/dir. Lucy Bailey Duration 60 minutes Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation

‘full of strange powers’

‘Drake’s libretto is powerfully resonant, a poem rather than a plot and clearly very deeply felt… a shimmeringly atmospheric soundscape… What one is left with is often beautiful in sound, a threnody always haunting and unsettling in implication.’

‘Davies and Drake have an ineluctable taste for the epic… [A] sensuous, layered score, full of tender woodwind drones, plucked harp and elegiac strings, combined with vivid electronics… full of strange powers.’

THE TELEGRAPH (RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN), 21 JUNE 2018

THE OBSERVER (FIONA MADDOCKS), 1 JULY 2018

‘Davies’s ambitious dystopia is small only in size… The opening music establishes a sense of place immediately, layering low, ominous notes, a calming harp, and high, skittish figures. Davies’s electronic manipulations pick up the sounds and send them spiralling out beyond the ceiling. The music is transparent, brazenly beautiful and much use is made of the players as soloists, weaving elaborate individual lines alongside the vocalists.’

‘Beautifully imagined, both subtle and refined… at other points more violent gestures intervene, hitting home with overwhelming impact…’

THE GUARDIAN (ERICA JEAL), 21 JUNE 2018

‘Mitchener pushed towards an improvisational, at times almost shamanic utterance that threatened to stretch the boundaries of bel canto to breaking point…’ THE EVENING STANDARD (NICK KIMBERLEY), 15 JUNE 2018

THE STAGE (GEORGE HALL), 21 JUNE 2018

‘The best thing about Davies’s music is how she interleaves Padmore’s voice, acoustically and electronically, into a web of what seemed like embellished echoes. The virtuoso instrumentalists produce strikingly atmospheric gestures… a bold and ambitious show.’ THE TIMES (RICHARD MORRISON), 22 JUNE 2018

‘Ominous, atmospheric music… the mood is sustained without a lapse.’ THE FINANCIAL TIMES (RICHARD FAIRMAN), 21 JUNE 2018


‘shimmeringly atmospheric soundscape’

Tansy Davies’s chamber opera Cave premiered in the vast warehouse space of The Printworks, London in summer 2018. Starring Mark Padmore and Elaine Mitchener, it was staged by the London Sinfonietta in association with the Royal Opera. Furthering the successful collaboration with poet Nick Drake, which in 2014 produced the BASCA-winning opera Between Worlds, this 60-minute work follows a grieving father’s quest for survival and renewal, in a world plagued by environmental disaster. Desperate to connect one last time with his daughter, a man enters a dark cave, triggering a journey into an underworld of spirits. Key to this opera’s success is the inspired pairing of two remarkable – and hugely contrasting – vocal talents. A lyric tenor is paired with an experimental vocalist whose contribution is a thrilling mixture of the fully notated and the wildly improvisatory. Sometimes the singers are worlds apart, elsewhere they loosely echo one another and, in some of the opera’s most poignant moments, their voices are melded together, in a strange alloy. The sheer range of vocal writing in the piece is astonishing: from pure-tone chants, winding cantabile icaros, and trilling birdsong imitations, to cries of anguish, guttural moans, and a series of terrifying cawing noises barked through a megaphone. Both singers shake rattles whilst

singing, and the mezzo plays bass drum in one of the opera’s several outbursts of wild shamanic energy. A pivotal work in Davies’s evolution as a composer, Cave unites a new-found spaciousness, and harmonic airiness with the looping grooves that have long driven her music. Across eight scenes, six instrumentalists create a richly alluring, glittering soundworld, prominently flecked with harp. At key moments the players take on solo roles: a horn rides the natural harmonics in broad upward surges, the clarinet duets in the stratosphere with the mezzo’s twittering vocalisations, and later a violin joins her in a folksy, lilting lullaby. Everything is couched in a vast, slowmoving cave of electronic sound (based on Davies’s darkly lustrous string orchestra work Dune of Footprints) which provides the beguiling harmonies underpinning the drama.

INSTRUMENTATION

cl(=bcl).bsn(=cbsn).hn.harp.vln.db – live electronics (1-2 operators): sampler/effects applied to the vocal performers FP: 20.6.2018, The Printworks, London, UK: Mark Padmore/Elaine Mitchener/London Sinfonietta/ Geoffrey Paterson/dir. Lucy Bailey Duration 60 minutes Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation

‘full of strange powers’

‘Drake’s libretto is powerfully resonant, a poem rather than a plot and clearly very deeply felt… a shimmeringly atmospheric soundscape… What one is left with is often beautiful in sound, a threnody always haunting and unsettling in implication.’

‘Davies and Drake have an ineluctable taste for the epic… [A] sensuous, layered score, full of tender woodwind drones, plucked harp and elegiac strings, combined with vivid electronics… full of strange powers.’

THE TELEGRAPH (RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN), 21 JUNE 2018

THE OBSERVER (FIONA MADDOCKS), 1 JULY 2018

‘Davies’s ambitious dystopia is small only in size… The opening music establishes a sense of place immediately, layering low, ominous notes, a calming harp, and high, skittish figures. Davies’s electronic manipulations pick up the sounds and send them spiralling out beyond the ceiling. The music is transparent, brazenly beautiful and much use is made of the players as soloists, weaving elaborate individual lines alongside the vocalists.’

‘Beautifully imagined, both subtle and refined… at other points more violent gestures intervene, hitting home with overwhelming impact…’

THE GUARDIAN (ERICA JEAL), 21 JUNE 2018

‘Mitchener pushed towards an improvisational, at times almost shamanic utterance that threatened to stretch the boundaries of bel canto to breaking point…’ THE EVENING STANDARD (NICK KIMBERLEY), 15 JUNE 2018

THE STAGE (GEORGE HALL), 21 JUNE 2018

‘The best thing about Davies’s music is how she interleaves Padmore’s voice, acoustically and electronically, into a web of what seemed like embellished echoes. The virtuoso instrumentalists produce strikingly atmospheric gestures… a bold and ambitious show.’ THE TIMES (RICHARD MORRISON), 22 JUNE 2018

‘Ominous, atmospheric music… the mood is sustained without a lapse.’ THE FINANCIAL TIMES (RICHARD FAIRMAN), 21 JUNE 2018


Tansy Davies

Cave photographs © London Sinfonietta, Manuel Harlan Tansy Davies © Rikard Österlund

studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Royal Holloway. In 2004 neon – a gritty collage of twisted funk written for the Composers Ensemble – quickly became her calling card. Since then her music has been championed internationally by ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, Ensemble intercontemporain, and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and at festivals including Ultima, Présences, and the Warsaw Autumn. Her work has been inspired by sources as diverse as Zaha Hadid (the trumpet concerto Spiral House), Anselm Kiefer (Falling Angel for ensemble) and the Troubadours (the song cycle Troubairitz). Between Worlds, a response to 9/11 with a libretto by Nick Drake, was premiered by English National Opera in 2015 (directed by Deborah Warner) and won a British Composer Award. Recent works include Re-greening for singing orchestra – for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain – and Forest, a concerto for four horns premiered by the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen. For the 18/19 season Davies was Composer in Residence at the Concertgebouw, composing Soul Canoe for the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble. In 2019 she became an Associate Professor of Composition at the Jacobs School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana.

For more information please contact: Promotion Department Faber Music Ltd. Bloomsbury House 74–77 Great Russell Street London WC1B 3DA +44(0)20 7908 5311 promotion@fabermusic.com

CAVE chamber opera in eight scenes for mezzo-soprano, tenor and ensemble with electronics. Text by Nick Drake

Profile for Faber Music

Tansy Davies - Cave Leaflet  

Tansy Davies - Cave Leaflet  

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