Release Date: 19th November 2021
Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s multifaceted creative output ignores the boundaries between art forms and cultures. She writes for wide-ranging ensembles, acoustic and electronic, eastern and western – all of which is encapsulated in Welcome Party, a new album for sinfonia, choir and electronics.
A unique sense of place is at the core of Horrock’s-Hopayian’s music. One particularly significant location to the album was 575 Wandsworth Road, London, the home of the late Kenyan-born polymath Khadambi Asalache, where Horrocks-Hopayian’s 2015-17 London Symphony Orchestra Soundhub residency took place. Much of the music on the album was inspired by the acoustic properties of the house itself (Cassete: Early Sketches), by the intricately carved wooden fretwork that covers every interior surface of this building (Inkwells), as well as by Asalache’s writings (Cave Painting). Objects and found sounds from the house were the impetus for tracks, including Walls & Ways for clarinet (Ausiàs Garrigós Morant), voice (Ziazan) and electronics, which opens with the recorded tick-tock of the grandfather clock in the hall. Composing The Ladies gave Horrocks-Hopayian a chance to engage with the humour throughout Asalache’s interior designs, including ankle-height bunnies painted for the household dog to chase and the eclectic paintings of women in the bathroom, ranging from Bessie Smith to Cleopatra, Pocahontas to Madame de Pompadour.
Welcome Party is a joyous story of creative revival in a time of isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The title track, featuring members of the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jon Hargreaves, is a loud, extroverted welcome to the album. Driving dance rhythms contrast with a deeply personal melody from the album’s closing track, Lullaby Between Two, sensitively brought to life by the Choir of Girton College, Cambridge (the composer’s alma mater) directed by Gareth Wilson. A touching tribute following a folk tradition of soothing songs, this lullaby was improvised by Horrocks-Hopayian whilst she waited for an ambulance to collect her Aunt, who tragically died after catching COVID-19.
Vocal works are the vehicle of some of Horrocks-Hopayian’s most personal music, such as Ser (the Armenian word for ‘love’). Originally commissioned by Serious for the London Jazz Festival in 2015 to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide, this is a modal exploration of the two sides of the composer’s Anglo-Armenian heritage.
Multi-faceted in style as well as influence, Horrocks-Hopayian’s music breaks through genre barriers with ease. Muted Lines, initially written for saxophonist Trish Clowes’ album whilst Horrocks-Hopayian was in residence at 575, brings together the classical chamber ensemble, jazz group and an ancient Armenian text translated into English. Migration is another theme that runs through the album, and this work featuring Clowes, the composer’s vocals and Tim Giles on drumkit is a reflection on jazz in the context of travel and exile. Dancing Birds is a dance of migration in slow motion inspired Asalache’s by carved images of birds. Birds are also the protagonists of Swallows & Nightingales, text fragments by the Armenian author Gevork Dodokhian (swallow) and Sappho (nightingale).
Whether inspired by specific locations or by more abstract places such as her ancestral home, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian’s music “both belongs somewhere and speaks to our human need for belonging” (Caroline Potter).
Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian voice
Trish Clowes saxophone
Tim Giles drums
Members of the London Symphony Orchestra
Jon Hargreaves conductor
Ausiàs Garrigós Morant clarinets
Choir of Girton College, Cambridge
Gareth Wilson director
CEVANNE ON RESONANCE FM
"...this collection of works is wide-ranging, dynamic, and utterly unique. The album encompasses acoustic and electronic textures, eastern and western influences and plenty of percussive fun." BBC Music Magazine (★★★★)
"This is daring and ambitious music — yet presented in warm and approachable terms...The whole of it is imbued with a wholesome and warm energy epitomizing the idea of 'welcome.'" Escape Into Life
"The album offers an intriguing mix of inspirations, methodologies and soundscapes, it's a window in to this composer, performer and storyteller's multidisciplinary world." Andrew MacGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review
"Telling a series of interconnected stories, Horrocks-Hopayian's music delights in crossing boundaries; it intrigues and delights." Planet Hugill (★★★★)
"You get a deep sense of the acoustic proprieties of that location with this piece [Cave Painting], including the intricately carved wooden fretwork that covers every single interior surface at the building, as well as the poet's writings." Hannah Peel, BBC Radio 3 'Night Tracks'
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer
CEVANNE HORROCKS-HOPAYIAN Recording Engineer & Producer
Release Date: 19th November 2021
Cat No. NMC D268