Composer Errollyn Wallen has had teachers tell her that classical music is ‘not her sort of music.’ She pointed out to Gramophone in 2021 that “little was expected of her, but her career has been not so much about proving others wrong as a case of proving herself right.” She has done just that. She has composed for the late Queen Elizabeth, the 2012 London Paralympics and her music has also been to space.
Musical selections from Errollyn Wallen
In the 2021 performance of Concerto Grosso, conductor John Butt said, “Errollyn Wallen’s Concerto Grosso, very much following the Corellian footprint, provides a much newer take on the baroque concerto style, also reflecting something of the string sonorities of intermediate composers such as Elgar and Britten. The first movement reminds us of the perpetual motion of the baroque and also the quasi-symmetrical recurrence of themes. But it is also a dazzling rethinking of the concerto grosso, distorted but utterly new and compelling simultaneously. The final movement takes us from aria to that most ubiquitous of baroque textures: the ground bass, heard at its most energetic and strongly inflected by jazz and other contemporary idioms.”
The Kosmos ensemble, featuring Harriet Mackenzie (violin), Meg Hamilton (viola) and Milos Milivojevic (accordion), commissioned this work in partnership with the Jersey Liberation Festival. They wanted a piece that left room for them to improvise while offering the audience world music influences. Wallen combined inspiration from Byzantine Chant, jazz and Venezuelan Joropo to make a truly unique piece of music.
Peace on Earth
This performance of Peace on Earth is sung by the WDR Radio Choir conducted by Simon Halsey for its Christmas concert Joy to the World. This carol for the holiday season is best described in Wallen’s own words, “the bleakness of winter in a turning, troubled world conveyed through a slowly spinning ostinato over which the voices sing (as they themselves hear other unseen voices sing) of the hope for light and peace.”
Host: Vernon Neal
Producer: Dan Nass
Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship
Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton
Executive Producer: Julie Amacher
Love the music?
Show your support by making a gift to YourClassical.
Each day, we’re here for you with thoughtful streams that set the tone for your day – not to mention the stories and programs that inspire you to new discovery and help you explore the music you love.
YourClassical is available for free, because we are listener-supported public media. Take a moment to make your gift today.