Roxanna Panufnik is one of the UK’s most popular and loved composers whose works have struck a deep emotional chord with audiences everywhere.
Since studying composition at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Roxanna’s since written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television which are regularly performed all over the world.
Among her most widely given works are Westminster Mass, commissioned for Westminster Cathedral Choir on the occasion of Cardinal Hume’s 75th birthday; The Music Programme, an opera for Polish National Opera’s millennium season which received its UK premiere at the BOC Covent Garden Festival; and settings for solo voices and orchestra of Vikram Seth’s Beastly Tales – the first of which was commissioned by the BBC for Patricia Rozario and City of London Sinfonia.
Other compositions include Roxanna’s critically acclaimed harp concerto Powers & Dominions; Letters from Burma for oboist Douglas Boyd and the Vellinger String Quartet; Leda, a ballet for English National Ballet and Wratislavia Cantans and Abraham – a violin concerto commissioned by Savannah Music Festival for Daniel Hope, incorporating Christian, Islamic and Jewish music. This last work was converted into an overture, commissioned by the World Orchestra for Peace and premiered in Jerusalem under the baton of Valery Gergiev.
Recent premieres include her oratorio “Dance of Life” (in Latin and Estonian), incorporating her fourth mass setting, for multiple Tallinn choirs and the Tallinn Philharmonic Orchestra (commissioned to mark their tenure of European Capital of Culture 2011 and recently recorded – in English – for release on Warner Classics 2014) and “Four World Seasons” for violinist Tasmin Little and the London Mozart Players, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, launching their Music Nation Weekend, celebrating the 2012 Olympics.
2012/13/14 sees numerous premieres in Europe, Australia and the USA with the choirs of Westminster and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedrals, Philadelphia’s St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Chanticleer, the Welsh Sinfonia, Ernst Kovacic & the Leopoldinum Orchestra and the London Mozart Players (with whom she has been appointed inaugural Associate Composer from 2012 – 15). Her multi-faith choral CD “Love Abide” (www.loveabide.com) was released this February to critical acclaim.
2014 is the centenary of Roxanna’s father’s, Andrzej Panufnik, birth – many concerts, recordings and events including father-daughter programming will be happening over this year – please do visitpanufnik.com for further details (which will be regularly updated through this year and next).
Roxanna’s compositions are published by Peter’s Edition Ltd and have been recorded on many labels including Warner Classics (most recently her multi-faith choral CD Love Abide www.loveabide.com) and EMI Classics.
Japanese Spring - 2008
Japanese Spring This piece is part of a long-term project commissioned by Tasmin Little and Orchestra of the Swan for the Spring Sounds Festival. It is the first of a 21st Century Four Seasons – each movement taking its influence from a country culturally associated with that season.
The music is all about the precipitation and anticipation of Spring, starting with one bud shooting up through the ground and eventually bursting into a myriad of petals and the glorious cherry blossoms of Japan. Its nationality is signified by the use of the Japanese “in” mode which is fundamentally pentatonic. Birdsong also appears – the song of the Japanese Bush Warbler which is prevalent in Spring. The piece starts very low and quiet as the first hints of new life appear and ends very high and jubilant after a build up of exploding blossom and a cacophony of birdsong! It is dedicated to Tasmin and the Orchestra of the Swan.
Tibetan Winter - 2009
Tibetan Winter This beautiful Tibetan song has been sung for centuries in many different ways. I first heard a “folk opera” version, sung exquisitely by a popular singer, Namgyal Lhamo, in a softer, more romanticized, rubato (and some would say “westernized”) way. Then I heard a more traditional performance by a Tibetan nomad from the East of the country – complete with frequent glottal stops (translated to the violin into grace notes) and brief bursts of tremelo at the start of longer notes. I have used both of these versions as they both have their individual appeal – and the rawness of the nomad version enhances the trembling chill of a Tibetan Winter.
My thanks go to Tibetan music expert Anna Morcom for all her help and advice – and to Tasmin Little and David Curtis for making it happen. It is dedicated to Tasmin and the Orchestra of the Swan.
Indian Summer – 2010
Indian Summer I’m using poetic license here, as “Indian Summer” is often used to describe an uncharacteristically warm UK autumn, but the intense warmth and colour of India seemed perfect for summer music. Over a double-bass drone, the solo violin plays the main theme in the sweeping portamento (sliding)-style of the traditional Northern Indian violin. Slightly Bhangra-ized tabla (Indian drums) rhythms and four Northern Indian modes (Kalyan, Marva, Purvi and Kafi ) are used to bring the kaleidoscopic hues and vivacity of this stunning subcontinent.
My thanks go to Northern Indian music expert and performer Kartik, for all his help and advice – and to Tasmin & David Curtis for making it happen. It is dedicated to Tasmin and the Orchestra of the Swan.