Best known for his role as keyboard player with alternative rock band The Cure, Roger O’Donnell has spent most of the last five years composing for orchestral strings. Ranging in size from the Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra (The Bernhard Suite) to this his most recent work written for the cellist Julia Kent, ‘Love and Other Tragedies’.
In 2010 having written some exploratory works for piano and cello Roger was asked to compose for the acclaimed Toronto Corktown Chamber orchestra. This led to the suite, ‘Quieter Trees’ inspired by the painting “Bigger Trees near Warter” by English artist David Hockney. Intrigued by trying to describe colours and shape using sound, Roger went on the repaint the picture using violins, violas, cellos and basses. The piece in six movements was premiered in London by the children of the Centre for Young Musicians and then completed in Toronto with the orchestra.
Collaborating with South African born composer Adam Donen led to a Requiem for a small ensemble and then on to a suite for chamber orchestra based on the life of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. Performed by the Wurttemberg Chamber orchestra in Heilbronn Germany and at the Cadogan Hall in London in 2013 and the Summer of 2014.
Parallel to these other works and very close to his heart Roger stayed true to a very personal project which evolved to become this release, ‘Love and Other Tragedies’.
The piece will be premiered at St Leonards Church in London on May 30th 2015.
About Julia Kent:
After years spent performing and recording with other artists and groups, among them Anthony and the Johnsons and all female cello group Rasputina, Canadian-born, New York City-based Julia Kent found her own voice with her solo debut ‘Delay’, an exploration of the private emotional worlds that exist within the disjunctions and disorientations of travel. ‘Delay’ was hailed for its “lovely, melancholy” compositions, full of “aching romanticism…rich melodicism and detailed arrangements”. Kent toured extensively in support of the album throughout Europe and North America and subsequently released an EP ‘Last Day in July’.
In ‘Green and Grey’, her following solo record, she continued to use looped and layered cello, electronics, and field recordings to explore the intersections between the human world and the natural world. The record explores the melding of the technological and the organic, the patterns and repetitions that exist in nature and are mirrored in human creations, and the complexity and fragility of our relationships with one another and with the world that surrounds us.
Kent’s last record ‘Character’ was released by The Leaf Label in March 2013.
Julia Kent has composed a number of original film scores, as well as music for theatre and dance performances. She continues to tour extensively and is currently composing for television and film.
About Love and Other Tragedies:
Almost three years in to the making of this project, it quickly turned in a labour of love, lost love and tragedy.
When asked to write a new version of the story of Scheherazade for the Post Romantic Empire project of Italian, Giulio Di Mauro, Roger was first introduced to the cellist Julia Kent. They collaborated on the suite written in three movements by Roger for piano and four cellos and decided to explore this liaison further. After a solo performance by Julia in Spring 2011 the two met and in one of those moments of open thought and excitement decided to add two other stories to Scheherazade and complete an album together.
Roger suggested ‘Tristan and Isolde’ and Julia, ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’. The original idea was that they would write one story each but due to Julia’s extensive touring schedule Roger took over the composition. Each story was written in three movements in the same way Scheherazade was approached, and because each story had three crucial plot points, this made the process quite simple.
Each piece is written for piano and two to four cellos, all of which are played by Julia. Roger wrote the entire suite for Julia and at one stage contemplated recording with other cellists due to scheduling conflicts. This idea was quickly abandoned due to no other reason than that it simply wasn’t meant to be.
Writing in his studio in England’s rural Devon, Roger sent the piano files and scores to New York where Julia recorded the parts in her home studio. Two totally contrasting environments but with a common understanding of emotion and drama; dialogue was never required, misunderstandings never an issue. The male piano and the female cello came together in perfect harmony.
Once the recordings were finished, Roger called upon his good friend Paul Corkett to mix the songs and then mastered them in London with Guy Davie. The tracks have been cut to heavyweight vinyl and are presented in gatefold format with art work by constant collaborator Anna Dorfman. The inside cover photograph was taken by Australian photographer Romain Duquesne and realised by the artist Jodee Knowles.