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Enid Luff and Julia Usher have been in the forefront of composer-publishing for many years.
Their music has been widely performed and broadcast, and both composers are involved with electronic media.
A catalogue of music in a contemporary idiom, catering for a wide range of ability, is available: Chamber, Orchestral, Solo, Choral, Dance, Music Theatre, and Educational.
Julia Usher, M.A. PGCE RMTh(NR)
Enid Luff, M.A. M.Mus. LRAM
- Educated Cambridge and York University.
- Lively interest in cross-media works.
- Music Theatre.
- Influenced by words and visual imagery.
- Great love of chamber and solo writing.
- Also works as music therapist, and is interested in research on the brain.
- Involved with community music projects, including COMA, especially based in Essex.
- Education: Cambridge, University of Wales.
- Her music has been performed in a number of other European Countries.
- Many performances of dance works.
- Welsh-speaking, interested in poetry and literature, and setting texts in many languages.
- Appealing pieces for amateurs.
PRIMAVERA CONCERT DAYS To celebrate 30 Years of publishing, Primavera held two concert days, each containing a concert and a composing masterclass, and preceded by a call for scores. The programme contained music by Enid Luff and Julia Usher, as well as pieces by Andrew Wilson-Dickson and Welsh composer Michael Parkin. To our delight, we received enough entries to the call for scores to include miniatures for both flute and piano in the programme. The programme was rounded off with music and visuals by Julia's powerful piece, "The Sower of the Systems." ENID LUFF:
Enid's “...trees dropped forth pearls... “ , for solo acoustic guitar, commissioned by Michael Mc Cartney, was premiered by him at a recital at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff on July 3rd. The title of the piece is a quotation from an early seventeenth century poem, “That Zephyr ev'ry year” by William Drummond. The music catches the delicate and rather precious lyricism of the verse, which veils a depth of feeling about love and death, and ends with a tolling funeral bell.
Enid's piece for solo viola, " . . . the horror of war and the pity of it . . .", was played by the rising young violist and violinist Matthew Jones at his solo viola recital in the Weston Gallery, at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, on February 9th. The piece was written for Matthew at his request, and has now been recorded for the CD of contemporary Welsh music recently issued by Cyfansoddwyr Cymru/Composers of Wales. The disc is played by the Bridge Duo (Matthew Jones, violin/viola, and Michael Hampton, piano). Her “From Switzerland” for flute,clarinet Bb, and piano, was included in a concert given in Cardiff, at the Wales Millennium Centre, on September 28th last, in honour of the retirement of Keith Griffin as Director of the Welsh Music Information Centre. FORTHCOMING Enid's “At Crack of Winter”, for full orchestra, will be played by the
Academic Orchestra of Würzburg University, Würzburg, Germany, on two occasions in February. The first will be on February 2nd at nearby Bad Kissingen, and the second on February 12th at the University concert hall in Würzburg. The conductor on both occasions will be Markus Popp.
Her “From Switzerland” for flute,clarinet Bb, and piano, will be included in a concert to be given in Cardiff, at the Wales Millennium Centre on September 28th next in honour of the retirement of Keith Griffin, Director of the Welsh Music Information Centre.
More CD newswww.composersofwales.org
Enid's "About the Wind", for flute and piano, is included in the recent CD release by Composers of Wales, "Ariel", featuring Catherine Handley, flute and Andrew Wilson-Dickson, piano, of works by members of Composers of Wales. (This disc received, by the way, a "rave review" in The Musician, who said: Heavenly album - Gorgeous duo flute and piano - pace and drive - melodic sweetness - Premier league status”.) Enquiries for both these discs via
Ty Cerdd (the Music Centre for Wales, in Cardiff) are preparing to issue a CD of Enid's music in their series of living Welsh composers. This disc will include a new short suite for solo Cello, “By the Waters of Babylon”, a dark and powerful piece haunted by the shadow of Iraq and the Israeli blockade of Gaza.. (Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other Recent Performances:www.youtube.com/electricvoicetheatre
Enid's set of two songs, "The Water Diviner" for unaccompanied solo soprano (to words by Gillian Clarke), were performed on March 8th, 2009 by Frances Lynch, at an afternoon session hosted by Forum London Composers' Group called Role Play: Women and Music, at a small Arts Centre, the Red Hedgehog, in the North London borough of Highgate. The performance can be seen at
Meister Eckhart's Flute, for solo flute, was played by Nancy Ruffer at a concert during the London New Wind Festival, at the Regent Hall, Oxford Street, London. JULIA USHER:
JULIA'S NEWS 2014
Current commission for a Saxophone Quartet for SAXSHADES, director, Debbie Scherer
During her composer residency at the University of Central Lancashire, 2011 - 2012 for the Transit of Venus celebrations, Julia’s piece “The Transit of Venus” formed a central theme in an extended collaboration between the University Music and Performing Arts department, the Horrocks Astronomy Institute, and Much Hoole Church. On June 6th, the night of the Transit, a live performance of the piece was played on a worldwide NASA stream, by saxophonist Debbie Scherer and clarinetist Matthew McGuffie.
Julia has now been commissioned by Debbie Scherer to compose a Saxophone Quartet, for her Yorkshire - based group. This piece is inspired by the manufacture of steel constructions, several of which have a property of singing in harmonic overtones when stressed. In particular, steel pontoons, which grind up and down in the tide, often make harmonic screeches that sound very like saxophones. The twisted steel halyards of ships sing eerily in a rising wind. I was haunted by these sounds in the summer of 2013. At the same time, woven into the piece are ideas of other fabrications: lying, and the fabric of dreams.
JULIA'S NEWS 2013-2014 PROJECT DIRECTOR, COLCHESTER GROUPS
1. ARTS ACTION EAST. Boudica. January 2014
Julia is project director for the community arts group Arts Action East. Julia and Soprano Corrina Dolso collaborated on this multi - faceted exploration of the destroyer of Roman Colchester, Boudica. Julia Usher composed a piece called Burnt Layer, which had to be learnt in a 90 minute workshop before the concert. Corrina assembled an instant group of voices from the many vocalists in Colchester.This brought an urgency to the learning of a contemporary but accessible score: it had to work 2 hours later in concert. Corrina’s Equinox Ensemble performed a sequence of new pieces from a Call for Scores.
These new pieces reflected Boudica’s progress through Norfolk, raging south to Colchester, London and St Alban’s, and her destruction of these first Roman cities. Julia and Corrina both composed instrumental and soprano solo pieces which expressed and questioned her outrage and vengefulness; but also the emptiness of revenge, and the bitter experience of a defeated queen and mother. ( Corrina Dolso: Red Star) and Julia Usher : Cold Heart(h). There were stunning contributions from poet Joan Norlev Taylor, and new projected paintings and cartoons by Wivenhoe artist Hazel Lazell.
2. Project Director Colchester New Music
In 2013, Julia assisted the creation of another Score Call Project, for the Brass Ensemble Bespoke Brass, led by Steve Drury. 16 new pieces were presented in a lively evening of superlative performances. Julia composed Rumours of Cuts,
in which the image of tree felling resonated with the political mood of Britain in a period of new austerity.
She added a multitrack electronic score to the live brass.
Colchester New Music is embarking on a new season of opportunities for East Anglian Composers, looking for new members. Visit www.colchesternewmusic.com for more information.
3. Musical Director, CoMA EAST FIREWIRE
Firewire is the Eastern Branch of Contemporary Music for All, (CoMA). For 13 years, radical performers and composers of a wide range of abilities, have developed a unique approach to creating new music. The group has a particular strength in structured and dramatic improvisation, reflecting a very wide range of style, genre and cross- art exploration. In the last two years they have worked closely with they enjoy interpreting current exhibitions, in musical collaboration with the gallery’s Head of Learning. The group always welcomes new members.
JULIA'S NEWS 2012
The TRANSIT OF VENUS
This piece was part of a project in 2012, to celebrate the Transit of Venus (June 5 / 6th). Julia is exploring the possibility of making a DVD or other media artwork based on the composition, bringing together information, artwork, animation and design, in collaboration with staff from the University of Central Lancashire. ( UCLAN).
SPARKS WILL FLY
Also in June 2012, Essex is celebrating the Cultural Olympiad with a county -wide project called Sparks Will Fly. Julia is collaborating with drummers, young dancers and the remarkable singing group Funky Voices. This will be to create a processional rap to accompany the Carnival parade as it snakes its way through Colchester to Castle Park. The climax is a welcome to a larger - than - like puppet / symbolic Wise Woman called Marina; who represents the aspirations of Colchester and Essex residents and visitors. In the park, there will be a large Anthem of Welcome to Marina, which Julia is devising. JULIA'S NEWS 2010-2011
During the past months, Julia, both as composer and as Director of “Colchester’s liveliest Sound Explorers”, CoMA Firewire, has led a project commissioned by The National Trust at Anglesey Abbey, Cambridge, and Making Music Eastern, to create a magical series of night visions in sound, the Moths and Moonlight Project.
Firewire improvised and recorded two hours of nocturnal evocations of Moths and Moonlight, for a twilight project at the Abbey, which Julia together with composer Stuart Russell transformed into tapestries of electronic sound. On June 26th, 2010, these sound tracks were streamed from the old Flour Mill in Anglesey Abbey into the gardens.
During the day, Julia worked with 100 adults and children to create their own music, movement and mysterious soundworlds, all invoking the twilit and nocturnal world of moths in moonlight. Stuart Russell set up an atmospheric environmental backdrop in the late afternoon, which gradually fused with the work of the invited family participants. They were encouraged to complete and complement the music, and become creators themselves.
It is hoped that Stuart Russell - and Firewire - will be able to release two CD’s of the MothMoon Music very soon.
After the workshops, Julia dragged a large parachute through the gardens to one of England's most spectacular herbacious borders, in an amphitheatre where all the families were having a picnic supper. The children began to explore the parachute like caterpillars, larvae and chrysalids. After the last parachute flutter, bubble wrap became moth wings, and 50 children emerged and floated and flew about the space.
When night fell the National Trust had organised a moth study evening, setting up giant light screens, and also Robinson and Actinid traps to entice the moths so everyone could view them. Around midnight, everyone including the two composers, gathered in awe around the vast community of beetles, bugs flies - and wondrous moths of every size and species which oriented to the light sources. Overhead a golden full moon rose solemnly, as it had done in Stuart's music. We wandered to bed through darkened tree avenues, lit only by the moon. The music is now available on a CD: "Moths and Moonlight: Music for a Summer Night at Anglesey Abbey", from tutti.
Label: Primavera Recordings, No. PMRVA20/21, Price: £8
Please go to: www.tutti.co.uk/cds/moths-and-moonlight-PMRVA
Julia Usher has developed a multicultural community music project in Colchester, which she started in January 2009, for Arts Action East. “ The Lullaby Project” sought to engage many people in the town to share songs and traditions from the background of their families. Songs from Home - principally lullabies - were donated and contributed by family members in a great variety of local open workshops, circle music times for children and parents, and also professionally - led workshop events. Mothers and Grandmothers are often people who pass on the melodies and words that are precious in the family; sometimes traditional folk melodies; sometimes individually created for one child, and then handed down.
Julia recorded, transcribed, and in some cases translated songs with the help of the contributors, to provide simple English versions; which allowed for the sharing of songs between different groups in Colchester. The project was finally be archived and donated to the Essex Records Office.
The project encouraged parents and carers in the vital importance of singing to small children; and celebrated national and regional traditions. But it also brought together Colchester residents from very different ethnic backgrounds to meet each other, and to join in shared music - making; listening to each others’ song and rhythms. Music offers a direct and approachable way for people of diverse backgrounds to meet and share traditions, diminishing social exclusion and encouraging friendly understanding within this rapidly expanding community.
There have been two major sharing/ performance workshops since August:
- A World of Song, led by Arts Action East Project leader Angela Dennis, focussed on Lullabies from Africa and elswhere, and included lullabies newly collected;
- “The Lullaby Effect”, a large scale workshop day was a significant event of Colchester Black History Month. Led by Zimbawean singer Anna Mudeka, and Gospel lead singer Grace Bedding, a large and very diverse audience experienced a wide range of African songs and lullabies. The audience also had a chance to contribute their own songs; some people singing in public for the first time.
The Lullaby Project will continue into 2010, in order to draw in contributors from South East Asia and China, as well as sharing British traditional rhymes and cradle songs with newcomers to the town from other countries.
2008 Il Pozzo di San Patrizio, for Gemini, commissioned by Colchester New Music. 1986: Piano Sonata: "Storm Tide" Viola, Clarinet in Bb, PIano and Percussion. This ensemble piece describes the vertigo of descending a legendary medieval well 62 metres deep, in Orvieto, Italy. The instruments evoke the fear and images of falling; and of reaching a place of bleak emptiness; then the painstaking ascent, a birth of confidence, and finally a bubbling of joyful release. The Italian atmosphere of heat outside is also present, timelessly in the cries of cicadas. An evocation of the storms of the North Sea, and the drowning of the land. "..a study in a kind of ...massive minimalism...a genuine skill in the pacing of textural change." (Independent).
Premiered by Peter Lawson.
2008 Incalmo, for Gemini, Colchester New Music commission. Soprano, Clarinet, PIano, Percussion ( and Projections). 1989: Sleep, Sleep, February (Fl,Ob,Cl,Pno) The Soprano is the Glassblower - Artist; who examines her role as “an Imaginer”, and through the images of her trade and the chemical elements she uses, discovers how she shapes her own life - choosing at the end the Glass Form called Incalmo, in which two colours of glass are fused together inseparably in stripes. A meditative piece, the lines "like coloured ribbons streaming out behind the piano part." Chosen by Sounds Positive Ensemble for their Tenth Anniversary Concert Series. 2009 The Transit of Venus. For Gemini; Saxophone and Clarinet ( and projections). 1992: Listening for the Roar of the Sun. (Solo oboe, Dancer, speaker, Slides). In this gentle duet, two heavenly bodies sound their changing spatial relationship to each other. Venus drawn by the pull of the Sun’s gravitational force, approaches, passes and is ﬂung away again. Sometimes they reach an aural conjunction, at the Octave. Eight movements reflecting spoken poems by Anglo-Welsh poet Gillian Clarke. Well received in a number of venues.
Sometimes the two emerge from the depths of aural space like a radio signal, and fade
away again into silence.
1997: The Glass Wall (three dancers, solo Cello, and electronic tape), This piece will be the subject of an extensive project in 2012, to celebrate the next Transit of Venus. Julia Usher is working in collaboration with performing arts, media, and science departments of the University of Central Lancashire ( UCLAN). a haunting story-in-music. Also Studies for the Glass Wall* for Solo Cello - three expressive pieces using the full technical range of the cello to colour a narrative. 2010 Hard Times. Written for New Noise. Oboe, Live Percussion, Multitrack and Live Electronics. 1999 Telyneg ( Lyric), for Oboe and harp The last two years has brought about the collapsing of many certainties. It is no longer easy to know what is trustworthy, what is true and real. Economic reality rules our lives; and that’s a fact. The oboe carries a poignant expressive line against the shimmering tapestry of the harp. Politicians have begun to insist again that “facts” are what are important in education and in science. In his 1854 novel Hard Times Dickens lampooned this simplification of life. This piece opens, as the novel does, with a hectoring declamation about the rule of FACT in teaching young people. The rest of the piece explores the strange mirror worlds of virtual and live sound, recordings made of wind, and people working and travelling, on land,water, and trains that wail like ghosts. These recordings of never-to be -repeated happenings are nevertheless fixed like facts in a digital track. 2011 Out There. For SCAW. Clarinet and multitrack recording, (with projected poetry). On a poem by Jamie McKendrick. Cosmonauts, sealed into a space capsule, cease to distinguish sleep from dreams, memories and hallucinations; which raise intolerable memories of home. The poet confronts us with the empty barrenness of space - what had been where heaven was; ".....and never so keenly felt as from out there can the lost feel earth's the only paradise." 2011 The Painted Lake. Flute ( and alto) solo, with Projections. For Nancy Ruffer, and Primavera Anniversary Concerts, Cardiff and London, October 2011. A peaceful and serene evocation of an iridescent lake in New England in autumn; where spectral colours are reflected eerily in a strange lake.
* Asterisked works are included in the Music Tracks
section of this webpage.
TOUCHING THE WALL:A synchronised sequence of pictures and sounds performed and created by Andrea Gregori;based on a Clavicle, a piece for clavichord by Julia UsherDVD Issued by PrimaveraDuration: 13.20Price from Tutti: £12.99
Listen to excerpts from works by Julia and Enid as streamed RealAudio files. Click on the icon to hear the sample.
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Both composers will be happy to undertake commissions for particular groups, venues or occasions, and where possible to assist in their performance. We are also happy to give lectures on composing, contemporary music, music and visual art, music therapy, to colleges, schools and universities.
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