Visionary collaborative project from composer Hannah Conway, bringing together those with lived experience of voice loss with musicians including Alice Zawadzki, Marcus Farnsworth and Rakhi Singh, as well as guests from the academic, healthcare, biomedical, technology sectors.
The personal tragedy of losing my father who lost his ability to speak as a result of brain cancer, made me reflect on the importance of voice. I was struck that despite 20 years of experience of composing for the voice and working with internationally renowned opera houses, I’d taken for granted the intrinsic value of the human voice, so I set out to make a series of operatic work on voice and identity.
Hannah Conway, Composer and Artistic Director, Sound Voice
Sound Voice is a visionary exploration of the human voice and possibilities of collaboration. It brings together those who have experienced voice loss alongside artists, biomedical researchers, healthcare professionals, academics and technology entrepreneurs. In the past year, Hannah Conway and Hazel Gould have made short operatic moments out of the life stories and insights of this diverse group. Interdisciplinary workshops have revealed deep connections for all those taking part, expanding our collective knowledge and understanding of the voice.
This Festival of New concert assembles all of the work to date for an event that explores the identities of those who have experienced voice loss. Researchers and other guest collaborators join the performers in a shared space to celebrate the beauty and value of the human voice.
All of the works are deeply personal. Boundaries have been pushed, rules broken and new ideas set in motion.
Words Hazel Gould
Music Hannah Conway
Baritone Marcus Farnworth
Soprano Gweneth-Ann Rand
Vocalist Alice Zawadzki
Violin Sara Wolstenholme
Cello Nick Trygstad
Piano/Compere Hannah Conway
Piano Libby Burgess
Counter Tenor Hugh Cutting
Performer Tanja Bage
Performer Sara Bowden-Evans
Sound Design David Sheppard
With guest collaborators from the academic, healthcare, biomedical, technology sectors and those with lived experience of voice loss.
Song specialist and chamber musician Libby Burgess is well-known in the UK’s major halls and festivals. She is Artistic Director of New Paths Music and co-directs the Beverley Chamber Music Festival with Martin Roscoe. Libby is highly regarded as vocal coach, speaker and writer. She is currently performing Bach’s complete ‘48’ in all 48 English counties, raising money for musical charities.
Originally from Minneapolis, Nicholas Trygstad came to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Hannah Roberts and Ralph Kirshbaum. Nick is Principal Cellist of the Hallé Orchestra, teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music and frequently plays with Manchester Collective.
Alice Zawadzki is a genre-fluid singer, violinist, and composer. She has released two critically acclaimed albums, China Lane, and Within You Is A World Of Spring, and was described by The Guardian as “a genuine original”. As a soloist she has sung with orchestras and ensembles worldwide. She trained as a violinist at the RNCM, and in jazz voice and composition at the RAM.
Gweneth Ann Rand studied at the University of Exeter, Goldsmith’s College and the GSMD. She is a former Vilar Young Artist at the Royal Opera House and represented England at Cardiff Singer of the World. She is an acclaimed performer of the works of Messiaen, in particular his Harawi song cycle.
Marcus Farnsworth was awarded first prize in the 2009 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and has appeared in recital at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, La Monnaie, Brussels with Julius Drake; on a UK tour of Schubert Winterreise with James Baillieu; for Leeds Lieder with Graham Johnson and at Opéra de Lille with Simon Lepper. He has appeared many times at Wigmore Hall with Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake and Graham Johnson, the Myrthen Ensemble and Joseph Middleton and with the Carducci Quartet.
Hazel is a writer and workshop leader specialising in the creation of new opera. She has worked with thousands of diverse participants to explore, experience and create opera. She has twice won the RPS award for Learning and Participation: We are Shadows (Spitalfields Festival - 2011) and Seven Seeds (Royal Albert Hall - 2015).
Sound Voice artistic director/composer Hannah created Sound Voice in 2019. Internationally recognised for her work with opera houses and orchestras as composer, presenter and artistic director, she has directed projects in 18 different countries. At the heart of everything is intense collaboration with diverse communities. Her work ranges from chamber operas in 12 languages, two operas for 2000 singers both premiered at the Royal Albert Hall, gigs in the slums of Mumbai, a promenade opera for the ENO/V&A and performance projects with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Opéra de Dijon, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonie, LʼOrchéstre de Paris, Swedish and Danish Royal Operas, Het Muziek Theater and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She also guest broadcasts for the BBC Radio 3, moderates for the EU commission and is Artistic Director of Streetwise Opera.
Hugh Cutting is a British countertenor based in London, currently in his second year of the Master of Performance course at the Royal College of Music where he is a Leverhulme Arts Scholar.
Upcoming projects include the role of Arsace in Handel’s Partenope as part of Les Arts Florissants ‘Le Jardin des voix’ 2021.
Sound Voice Installation
An immersive experience exploring the stories of people who have experienced significant voice change or loss, through music, words, video, and sounds.
Words: Hazel Gould | Music: Hannah Conway | Video Design: Luke Halls | Sound Design: David Sheppard
The Sound Voice installation, which premieres at Festival of New, is an immersive experience made to explore the stories of people who have experienced significant voice change or loss. Video designer Luke Halls and sound designer David Sheppard have collaborated for the first time with composer Hannah Conway and writer Hazel Gould to create a surround-sound, audiovisual setting of Tanja, Paul and I Left My Voice Behind, three works from the Sound Voice project. The installations can be experienced as a group, with breaks between them, or as short standalone experiences.
In 2020 Tanja was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer growing behind her vocal cords. One week after diagnosis her voice box was removed. In this piece she explores her fear of how losing her voice might change and limit her ability to be a "good" mother, the stigmas attached to being a woman with a laryngectomy, and how, a year into her recovery, she continues to express her identity using her new voice.
Paul was written after many hours of interviews and collaborative conversations with Paul Jameson, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017. The piece invites audiences to understand what 'voice' means to Paul as he loses his speech. Paul is a 'dual aria' a piece for one character (Paul), sung by two performers: Paul Jameson (the real voice) and baritone Roderick Williams (Paul's imagined voice).
I Left My Voice Behind
I Left My Voice Behind was written with people who have survived throat cancer, having had life-saving laryngectomy treatment to remove their voice box, in collaboration with healthcare professionals and biomedical researchers who are developing a groundbreaking implantable larynx. The piece is written for two choirs: the live choir (performed by members of Shout at Cancer who have had laryngectomies) and a second digital choir, constructed from recordings of Shout at Cancer members pre-cancer, before their voice boxes had been removed. The choirs are joined by solo cello, with a digital counterpart crafted from old recordings of the same cellist, mirroring the duet between live and digital choirs and collectively exploring renewal, transformation, and the birth of new vocal identities.
Paul Jameson (voice), Roderick Williams (baritone),
Tanja Bage (voice), Lucy Crowe (soprano)
I Left My Voice Behind:
Electrospit: Pug Halliday
Shout at Cancer Choir
Cello: Nick Trygstad
Sound Engineering: Andrew Mellor (Tanja, Paul, I Left My Voice Behind), Brett Cox (Tanja), David Sheppard (I Left My Voice Behind)
Assistant Sound Designer: Jonathan Green
Creative Producer: Patrick Dickie
Sound Voice producer: Liz Bacon
Technical Production Manager: Tom Taylor
Video programmer: Jack Fenton
For Luke Halls Studio: