Balancing the Score
A new development scheme exclusively for female composers offering up to four women the chance to spend two years immersed in life at Glyndebourne.
Balancing the Score is a scheme which supports female composers to develop their work in the field of opera. Our four composers; Anna Appleby, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson, have spent two years immersing themselves in life at Glyndebourne, meeting professional opera makers, attending performances and rehearsals and developing new work to be performed at Glyndebourne. This has allowed each composer to increase their knowledge on how an international opera house functions whilst investigating different approaches to the creation of new opera.
Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Anna Appleby, Cecilia Livingston and Ailie Robertson. Photo: James Bellorini
In 2019, the four composers have worked together to create an exciting new work to be performed by Glyndebourne Youth Opera, working with librettist Hazel Gould whose text will provide the basis for the music. This new four-way commission is very much a Glyndebourne first, and as well as providing our four composers with the perfect compositional challenge through their time at Glyndebourne, it will provide ample scope for the excellent young performers aged between 9 and 19 in Glyndebourne Youth Opera.
Anna Appleby (born in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1993) is a Manchester-based composer. Her music often wrestles with socio-political and spiritual themes. She has a particular interest in writing for the stage, and has drawn inspiration from choreographers in the way she works, particularly during her past residency as Music Fellow with Rambert. She is currently composing an opera in collaboration with poet Niall Campbell for broadcast studio performance by the BBC Philharmonic.
British-Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston specializes in music for voice. Her projects often tell women’s stories, inviting audiences to reconsider familiar literary and historical characters. Her music is driven by melody, mixing styles from minimalism to jazz to create work that is lyrical and unsettling. Winner of the Mécénat Musica Prix 3 Femmes for female opera creators, her music has been heard at Nuit Blanche, Bang on a Can’s Summer Festival, and with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Current projects include the opera ‘Terror & Erebus’ and a song cycle with Orange Prize winning poet Anne Michaels. Her work at Glyndebourne is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and builds on her 2015-17 Fellowship at The American Opera Project in New York. She is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in Music at King’s College London.
Ninfea is a composer and cellist based in Edinburgh. Composing for old, new, and damaged musical instruments, her past projects have included works for symphony orchestra, viols and theorbo, string and percussion quartets, a homemade glass harmonica, flower pots, and a fire-damaged piano. Recent commissions include pieces for the Dunedin Consort, Chelsea Music Festival, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, and the 2019-20 LSO Panufnik Scheme. Five Letters from Aubrey Beardsley, her song cycle for countertenor and prepared piano based on letters by the 1890s art nouveau illustrator, was shared online in 2020.
Ninfea was the recipient of the Psappha Ensemble’s 2020-21 Peter Maxwell Davies Commission for which she composed a piece for sitar and chamber ensemble. The project was also supported by the PRS Foundation’s Composers’ Fund, enabling her to take sitar lessons with Jasdeep Singh Degun. She is currently the Presteigne Festival’s ‘Evolve’ composer for 2020-25. In 2018 she was commissioned to write Table Talk, a large ensemble brass work for the Tanglewood Music Festival, and her composition Hatters was programmed at the festival the following year, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionists. She has been a recipient of a composition fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center (2017) and was awarded the UK’s Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (2015), through which she was commissioned to write a work for the 2016 Presteigne Festival.
Trained in cello performance and the academic study of music, Ninfea holds degrees from the University of Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music in London. She is currently a doctoral candidate in music composition at Princeton University.
Ailie is a multi-award-winning Scottish composer and harpist who has been commissioned to compose works by some of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions including the BBC Proms, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra amongst others. She is currently composer-in-residence with Sound Festival. She was winner of the ‘Achievement in New Music’ prize at the Scottish Awards for New Music, and followed up two years later with the prize for ‘Innovation in Traditional Music’. Ailie was nominated ‘Composer of the Year’ in the Scottish Trad Music Awards, held a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship to work as Composer in Residence and was also awarded an Emerging Excellence Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund. She was chosen for the RSNO Composer’s hub, and awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship for her work with The Elias Quartet and Eleanor Turner. She recently completed her PhD in composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and now lectures at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.