Part of London Sinfonietta’s Sound Out annual festival for schools, Zoë’s piece “wicca wacca ow”, for flexible ensemble, percussion, keyboard, voices and audience was given a rollicking first performance in a packed Royal Festival Hall, with Lucy Armstrong conducting and Patrick Bailey leading a ROCKING audience of London school children. Live streamed to schools across the country.
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge sing “Karakia” by Zoë
“Karakia” (Māori prayer) by Zoë Martlew, performed by the choir of Clare College, Cambridge, conducted by Graham Ross.
Text (by anon):
“Cease the winds from the West / Cease the winds from the South/ Let the breeze blow over the land/ Let the breeze blow over the ocean/ Let the red-tipped dawn come with sharpened air.
A touch of frost, a promise of a glorious day. “
Performed in the anti-chapel of Clare College chapel as introit to an evensong service, and part of the celebration of 50 years of co-ed at Clare, Zoë’s alma mater.
Film of cello-electronics piece in mem Oliver Knussen
Cellist Anssi Kartunnen has made a beautiful film of Zoë’s new piece for cello and fixed audio “O-lude”, which he premiered at Aldeburgh Festival summer 2022.
Here it is!
Press reviews: “ …. caught Knussen’s free-spirited wit. So, too, did Zoë Martlew’s O-lude, a mini-drama featuring his trademark can of Diet Coke, baton and taped recording of his voice in a rehearsal with another composer recently departed, Harrison Birtwistle.” Guardian
“The most moving of these tributes was the one furthest from Knussen’s own style: Zoë Martlew’s mostly electronic O-lude, based on scraps of Knussen’s own voice recorded in rehearsal, overlaid with what sounded like a scratchy old recording of luminous chords from his 2nd Symphony. For a moment his shade seemed to be with us.” Daily Telegraph
“Fittingly, however, all was eclipsed by a ghostly collage put together by his companion, Zoë Martlew, that incorporated a tape of his voice — still haunting the festival where he inspired so many memorable performances.” The Times
U.S. premiere of Zoë’s new work for cello/piano
British cellist Timothy Gill and American pianist/composer David Gompper gave the first US performance of Zoë’s new work for cello and piano “Ondine” as part of a recital given at Iowa University, September 2022.
They also recorded the piece for a duo album for release early next year.
COMPOSER’S NOTE, “Ondine”.
In spite of the daunting legacy of master works with the same title, by Debussy, Ravel and Henze to name three, there was no question that this piece simply had to take the name of the water spirit, “Ondine”.
Sitting by one of the many natural springs that gush from the rocks in the ancient woodlands near where I live, the fairy stories and myths surrounding elemental beings and water nymphs started to bubble up, like the sparkling water in front of me, from within.
Usually depicted as female, Ondines (or Undines) are said to be found in forest pools and waterfalls, their beautiful singing voices heard over the sound of the water. Perfect sonic subject matter for a cello and piano to explore!
The music follows the journey of water from spring to waterfall to rapids to great river, the camera sometimes homing in on sparkling droplets and bubbles, flowing ineffably towards the great ocean before finally evaporating into light, and the cycle begins again. A crystalline metaphor for the yearning of the human soul to merge with something greater than itself, always seeking perfection. And in these times of profound planetary upheaval and transformation, a reminder that no state is permanent, that all will pass.
(Incidentally, a soul is the one thing Ondines are said to lack, unless they marry a human, which drastically shortens their time on Earth. Which can’t be great for domestic life, let’s face it.)
My deepest gratitude to cellist Timothy Gill and pianist/composer David Gompper for commissioning this piece. Their virtuosity and world class musicianship (along with a few aquatic sprites) was an inspiration throughout. My profound thanks also goes to the wonderful RVW Trust for supporting this piece, which simply wouldn’t have happened without them.