Two years ago, the only way to hear the music of composer Erika Fox (b. 1936) was to go round to her house and listen to it via a box of cassettes and CDs salvaged from live performances and occasional radio broadcasts in the 70s and 80s. The music is striking and unique, yet had simply disappeared from the concert platform and classical music landscape.
This project, created and driven by Goldfield Productions in partnership with NMC Recordings, aimed to:
- bring Erika Fox’s neglected music to a new audience via a high quality debut album (NMC Recordings) of 6 of her chamber works
- enable others to access her music and scores
- re-position Erika in the classical music industry as ‘one of the 20th century’s most significant compositional voices in this country’ (Tom Service, Music Matters BBC Radio 3, broadcast June 29th)
The project was financially supported by generous grants from PRS Composers Fund, Ambache Trust, RVW Trust and Hinrichsen Foundation.
Goldfield musicians recorded the chamber works on 24, 25, and 27 November 2018 at Stapleford Granary with its outstanding facilities and beautiful acoustic. The recordings were made by David Lefeber (sound engineer) in the presence of the composer. Original cover art for the album was provided by the composer’s daughter, Veronica Fox, and photography by her son, Tim Fox, both professionals in their respective fields.
We were absolutely delighted with the album and its reception! (Reviews and full album details below)
At the age of 82, Erika Fox has a top ten debut album!
The album, ‘Paths’ reached #9 in the Official Specialist Classical Charts [data 6th July 2019]
Erika has recently signed with Composers Edition – her work is now fully available to be viewed on-line (sample scores) and for purchase.
Carla Rees (Tetractys Publishing) continues to typeset and publish Erika’s works for flute and is building up the available scores.
In August, Erika travels to Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music for the American Premiere of her Hungarian Rhapsody, conducted by Thomas Adès.
Watch this space for more news on Erika Fox performances in the autumn!
‘One of the 20th and 21st century’s most significant compositional voices in this country’ Tom Service, Music Matters BBC Radio 3, broadcast June 29th
‘ An intriguing showcase…refreshingly unusual…exotic and anti-harmonic, a ritual of untethered lines’ Sunday Times
‘A distinctive and assured musical voice…The Goldfield Ensemble plays assuredly throughout, giving these underserved works excellent documentation. Now it is up to the rest of the musical world to take up Fox’s compelling music and make it much more widely known.’ Christian Carey, Sequenza21
‘An outstanding album of hitherto unknown music by British composer Erika Fox played by Goldfield Ensemble. Fox’s music is really fascinating and different…this album is a gem’. Arts Music Lounge
‘Distinctive, uncompromising, theatrical…. Erika Fox is receiving her first major recording at the age of 82. This is a strong, striking and vividly theatrical voice… Robert Hugill (Planet Hugill) ★★★★
‘An intriguing introduction to her soundworld…her moment, overdue, has at last come’. Guardian
‘This is stunning! David Lefeber’s masterful new recording, a great acoustic, the excellent Goldfield Ensemble and Erika’s demanding, passionate and intense music make a great combination…brings 21st century life to this amazing music’ listener feedback via Amazon ★★★★★
‘The music is so strong, individual and original…the performances are beautiful, authoritative and confident. Altogether it is such an achievement, a wonderful and successful conclusion, even though it is long overdue’ Nicola LeFanu (composer)
‘The new CD of music by Erika Fox, is, to use that over-used word, a revelation, but on this occasion it really is. A name I vaguely remember from when I first started to get interested in music, it is just a mystery to me how such vibrant, individual, feisty and theatrical music should be ignored for so long. The performances are similarly vivid – this is the sort of music that demands that you listen’. David Wordsworth, conductor, writer
‘Fresh, bold, dramatic, urgent and original…the music sounds like no-one else, and the performances are shot through with the most extraordinary energy. The recordings sound incisive and clear and Erika’s unequivocally vital, muscular, fresh-as-paint musical imagination comes across unmistakably’. Richard Causton, composer
THE RECORDING SESSSIONS...
- BBC Radio 3: Erika Fox talks to Tom Service about her life and music [Music Matters 30th June 2019]
- BBC Radio 3: Quasi Una Cadenza from the album is played on The New Music Show [22nd June 2019]
- Jewish Chronicle: ‘At 82, composer achieves a first’ – superb article by Jessica Duchen about Erika Fox in Jewish Chronicle [27th June 2019]
- BBC Music Magazine – feature on Erika Fox as part of ‘upcoming recordings’ [15th May 2019]
- NMC blog: Erika Fox by Kate Romano [autumn 2018 newsletter)
- Composers Edition blog (Kate Romano talks to Dan Goren about Erika Fox)
- Composer talks given by Erika Fox (with Richard Causton) at Cambridge University [November 2018]
- John Tilbury performs To Veronica by Erika Fox at Bishopsgate Institute [27th June 2019]
- View films (available on YouTube): NMC taster trailer and interview with Erika Fox & Kate Romano
ON WORKING TOGETHER....
‘I was surprised and delighted throughout the rehearsals I attended and all the recordings of my pieces chosen for the album. I should not have been surprised because of the huge effort and commitment Kate and the team put into the enterprise, and as I also saw Goldfield’s marvellous production of Hansel & Gretel as well as attending the early rehearsal of that work where the desire for perfection was very evident.
It was so for my pieces, which I had to study all over again as they had been composed many years ago. I was absolutely thrilled at the enthusiasm and skill with which each piece was approached. Conductor Richard Baker had evidently thought about the two works in which he was involved and understood what was required. Sound engineer David Lefeber seemed to understand the pieces as intimately as if he had been familiar with them for a long time and was very exacting so that he brought out the best in each player. As for the performers, I can only say that the sheer technical skill, intelligence and extraordinary musicality of each one of them has made this experience one of the highlights of my life. Thank you Goldfield Productions, and thank you so much every one of the marvellous musicians for bringing my music to life and indeed for making me feel that we were all friends.’
Anne Rushton, Executive Director, NMC Recordings:
‘NMC have been delighted to work with Goldfield on the Erika Fox project. From the very inception of the artistic idea, to its planning and delivery – not least in terms of wonderful music making and an incredibly high standard of performance – Goldfield have been dynamic and committed partners. The value and importance of such effective partnership working is becoming more and more evident, particularly in the world of contemporary music where there is a real sense that we must shoulder together in the best interests of composers, performers and audiences. The impact of this project on the awareness and understanding of Erika’s music will be extensive and long lasting.’
Kate Romano, Artistic Director Goldfield Productions:
‘This success of this project is truly the result of a partnership between artists, NMC Recordings and the funders who generously supported us. None of it would have happened if NMC had not agreed to take on the recording – that was the catalyst for everything else to fall into place, for successful fundraising and for this fine group of musicians to be able to come together. I can’t think of a better home for Erika’s music than NMC.
Erika has worked tirelessly to sort out music, locate and clean up old parts, get things bound and performance-ready. She has been a wonderful collaborator and that’s not easy when you are also trying to get to grips with a very different industry than the one in the 1980s when her music was last being played. For me, one of the most rewarding outcomes of this project is that Erika is now ‘set up’ to be a composer in the 21st century; she has a support network in place – website, publisher, recording company, funders, musicians to champion her music. Its been a privilege to be a key part of the team who have helped get her music back out there.
For the project to be successful, it also needed the wider context of an industry that has, in 2019, warmly embraced Erika and her music. It is thrilling (and quite staggering) to see how a composer’s life can be completely turned around in just two years. I very much hope that our industry will go on recognising and embracing the challenges that prevent us from widening the canon and enriching our musical lives, by (for example) offering performance opportunities and funding that actively promotes the value of existing works / revivals and the artistic output of older composers.’
THANK YOU to the brilliant team at NMC Recordings, PRS Foundation Composers Fund, Ambache Trust, RVW Trust, Hinrichsen Foundation.
THANK YOU to Richard Causton, Nicola LeFanu, Rob Godman, Tim Fox, Veronica Fox, Stapleford Granary and all the superb musicians who have enabled this to happen.
And THANK YOU to everyone who bought the album and said such nice things about it
ON THE ALBUM...
Read the NMC Press release here
Conductor (Paths and Café Warsaw) – Richard Baker
Piano – Richard Uttley
Harp – Hugh Webb
Violin – Nicola Goldscheider
Viola – Bridget Carey
Cello – Sophie Harris
Double bass – Elena Hull
Percussion – George Barton
Horn – Ben Goldscheider
Clarinets – Kate Romano
Flute – Carla Rees
Oboe / Cor anglais – Anna Durance
- Paths Where The Mourners Tread (Richard Baker conductor, Nicola Goldscheider violin · Bridget Carey viola · Sophie Harris cello · Elena Hull double bass · Hugh Webb harp · Carla Rees flutes · Anna Durance oboe/cor anglais · George Barton percussion)
- Quasi Una Cadenza (Kate Romano clarinets · Ben Goldscheider horn · Richard Uttley piano)
- On Visiting Stravinsky’s Grave at San Michele (Richard Uttley piano)
- Malinconia Militaire (Nicola Goldscheider violin · Bridget Carey viola · Sophie Harris cello · Richard Uttley piano)
- Café Warsaw 1944 (Richard Baker conductor, Nicola Goldscheider violin · Sophie Harris cello · Carla Rees flutes · Anna Durance oboe/cor anglais Kate Romano clarinets · Richard Uttley piano · George Barton percussion)
- Kaleidoscope (Carla Rees flutes · Hugh Webb harp · Sophie Harris cello · George Barton percussion)