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Operas and Accolades

Nicola LeFanu talks to Donald Macleod about writing three operas in close succession. Including A Travelling Spirit (Riddle 7: Swan), Ervallagh, Cancion de la luna and Catena.

Composer Nicola LeFanu talks to Donald Macleod about writing three operas in close succession

Composer Nicola LeFanu has been at the heart of British contemporary music for several decades, and at the forefront of promoting the works of her fellow women composers. In 2017 LeFanu turns seventy, and in conversation with Donald Macleod she looks back at her distinguished career including commissions from many leading artists. LeFanu also chats about some of the composers who have influenced her including her mother Elizabeth Maconchy, and also her husband David Lumsdaine.

Nicola LeFanu has worked with many celebrated artists during her career. One was the saxophonist John-Edward Kelly, for whom she composed a single-movement concerto. Kelly also recorded LeFanu's work 'Ervallagh', which was composed in 1993 and is a musical portrait looking out to sea and the Aran Islands from the west coast of Ireland. The 1990s was a hugely busy period for Nicola LeFanu, composing three operas in quick succession including, for one project, working with two hundred children. It was from her opera 'Blood Wedding' that came the inspiration for composing her work for countertenor and ensemble, 'Canción de la luna', setting words by Lorca. Then in 1994 came a major change for LeFanu, when she moved away from London to become Professor of Music at the University of York. Teaching has always been important for LeFanu, and her pupils have included Paul Mealor, Grainne Mulvey, Luis Tinoco and Sadie Harrison.

A Travelling Spirit (Riddle 7: Swan)
Lesley-Jane Rogers, soprano
John Turner, recorder

Ervallagh
John-Edward Kelly, saxophone

Canción de la luna
Nicholas Clapton, countertenor
The Goldberg Ensemble
Malcolm Layfield, conductor

Sadie Harrison: ...ballare una passacaglia di ombre...
Peter Sheppard Skærved, violin

Nicola LeFanu: Catena, for eleven solo strings
The Goldberg Ensemble
Malcolm Layfield, conductor

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Nicola LeFanu

    A Travelling Spirit

    Performer: John Turner. Singer: Lesley-Jane Rogers.
    • Metier:MSVCD92064.
    • Metier.
    • 7.
  • Francisco Escalada

    Canten dos jilguerillos

    Performer: Yaniv d'Or. Ensemble: Ensemble NAYA.
  • Nicola LeFanu

    Ervallagh

    Performer: John‐Edward Kelly.
    • Emergo EC3992.
    • Emergo.
    • 4.
  • Nicola LeFanu

    Cancion De La Luna

    Performer: Malcolm Layfield. Singer: Nicholas Clapton. Orchestra: Goldberg Ensemble.
    • Naxos 8557389.
    • Naxos.
    • 3.
  • Sadie Harrison

    ...Ballare Una Passacaglia Di Ombre...

    Performer: Peter Sheppard Skærved.
    • Toccata Classics: TOCC0204.
    • Toccata Classics.
    • 20.
  • Nicola LeFanu

    Catena

    Orchestra: Goldberg Ensemble. Conductor: Malcolm Layfield.
    • Naxos 8557389.
    • Naxos.
    • 4.

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