Leeds premiere for award-winning composer


A new work by multi-award winning composer, Cheryl Frances-Hoad has its premiere in Leeds next month.

Her song cycle One Life Stand, with words by poet Sophie Hannah is a response to Robert Schumann's 1840 song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben (A Woman's Life and Loves). It will receive its premiere at the Howard Assembly Rooms of Opera North on Tuesday 11 October, at 7.30pm.

One Life Stand tells Schumann's story of love, death and longing in an entirely new way. The music gently unpicks Schumann's original songs and puts them back together in a completely unique style. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston sings both Schumann's songs and Frances-Hoad's response to them - and the performance will followed by a discussion and question and answer session between composer, writer and singer.

It is the latest work by Frances-Hoad, Cultural Fellow in Operatic Composition at the University of Leeds. Her work has been widely performed both in the UK and overseas, winning critical acclaim and a string of awards - including two at the prestigious 2010 BASCA British Composer Awards.

Her role as a Cultural Fellow, financed by the Future Fund of Opera North, is giving her the time and freedom to develop as a composer while collaborating with Opera North and working on new music and theatre projects in the city, with a mission to teach, inspire and bring music to the community.

The idea for the new work came when she met the singer Jennifer Johnston for lunch in Cambridge. "She was bemoaning the fact that although she loved to sing Frauenliebe und Leben she found the original words rather outdated," Frances-Hoad explained.

"They basically involve a woman wishing for a husband, getting a husband, having a complete and blissful life because of said husband plus inevitable baby, and then, once said husband dies, having no life and no future. They were cringeworthy to sing and Jennifer suggested I write an updated version. By pudding we were already thinking about whose poetry I might use!"

A further lunch shaped the project further, this time with poet Sophie Hannah who has provided new words for Frances-Hoad's music: "We thought it would be great to write a contemporary reaction to this song cycle that portrayed a modern woman's life and loves. It's at times humorous, at times tragic, and at the other times pretty much every other emotion in between. There are a fair amount of laughs in the piece (I hope), and I particularly enjoyed writing the song about adultery which ends with Jennifer having to repeatedly sing 'stupid git!' but there are also songs that deal with the moral ambiguities of real life and love."

Tickets for the premiere, priced at £7.50 are available from the Grand Theatre Box Office on 0844 848 2727

Further information:

For a full biography of Cheryl Frances-Hoad, visit: http://www.cherylfranceshoad.co.uk/

For requests to interview Cheryl - and for press tickets for the premiere - Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk