Dedicated to creative music making and classical contemporary composition.
She composes music for soloists, ensembles, voice and electronic music.
Making music is a collaborative experience so working closely with her performers is crucial for her.
My music blends the spaces between types of music, and paints soundscapes with a vibrant palette of harmonies. Asymmetric rhythms are often at the heart of her music, as it beguiles and enchants the listener by revealing deeply personal stories.
My mission is to engage new audiences with contemporary music through the power of storytelling. I write contemporary classical music for soloists and ensembles, instrumental performers and vocalists.
I am currently preparing a concert in Kasteliotissa Mediaeval Hall in Nicosia, Cyprus where I will set to music poems by both contemporary and less known traditional Cypriot poets. I am using Greek-Cypriot folk rhythms like zeimbekiko, and kalamatiano, and experimenting with less commonly used rhythms like 11/8.
In the UK, I am leading on a a year-long project with 2 vocalists, Sarah Parkin and Rylan Gleave, where I am writing six new pieces inspired by parenthood and womanhood – themes which are close to my heart and personal experience
Sound and inspiration
I draw inspiration from social topics dealing with womanhood, motherhood and parenthood more generally, and deeply personal feelings like compassion or frustration, including mental health issues like anxiety and addiction. Being a mother has profoundly affected my music. In my early works, my music frequently created aggressive sounds and passionate atmospheres. Now I find myself searching for the little quiet moments in music that allow the listener to independently evoke sounds that are implied, but go unheard. The audience becomes an active listener and creator in the music, with their own unique experience.
My Greek-Cypriot roots are an important part of my music. Whether it is the charming piano 4-hand piece Awaiting written in ⅞ time (‘kalamatianos’) or a song like 21 Brides written in 9/4 (zeibekiko), or a more intricate piece like Silver Lines for clarinet, flute and narrator which uses historic themes, a traditional lullaby and a well known march.
Use of voice and language in her music
The musicality of different languages intrigues me and I especially investigate this in Greek and English as well as different dialects existing within the two. When I write vocal music, I play with it by either following the natural flow of a verbal phrase or by pushing against it, using fractions of words and creating vocal sounds to increase emotional tension.
My challenge when working with a text is to create a balance between the music and the narration so that we understand the story and the music feeling tied to it. I achieve this by assigning different characters from the stories I am working with to each instrument (for example, the father figure represented by the trombone in my piece ‘The Death’ commissioned by Skipton Camerata,2020) or by exposing the subtext (lullaby melody in ‘Silver Lines’ November 2019 premiered by the Shadanga Duo in Hjørring, Denmark at the Ode to the Wind festival) while the narrator articulates specific events.
My devotion to language and the voice began during my years as a music student at the Ionian university in Corfu, Greece, and continued throughout my studies, up to and including my MA year at the University of York, UK. During these years I tried to fill in the gaps between language and vocal sounds, inspecting how in switching between Greek and English text, my melody and mood changed, – experimenting with the listener’s perception when creating sonar spaces with vocal sounds and with language, jazz song or opera, narration or electronic manipulation of speech.
During my adolescent years I started picking my hair and that developed into trichotillomania, an urge to pull out my hair. Now I have strategies in place when the urges appear but during stressful periods of my life the urge would be overpowering. This habit became the reason to write ‘Tillein, for an intimate percussionist”. It includes two narrated sections whispered by the percussionist while playing on a gong, (ideally) with their back to the audience. In this way, sounds and words might not be heard by all audience members and will unconsciously complete the missing information. It recently had a performance in Indiana, USA by Dr. Alexandros Fragiskatos at PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention).
The bilingual (Greek and English) lyrics for the piece ‘Statue of the Earth, for singing viola’ are inspired by texts about the ancient Greek goddess Hestia. The composition of the lyrics has to do with the sound of the words ‘sss, rrr, fff,…’ – becoming like a third instrument to the viola and the voice. It was commissioned by Katherine Clarke, a viola player in London specialising in new music for singing violist.
During lockdown I launched a series of virtual workshops and virtual sound installations (Vibrating Air, Reach and Same-Same-Different) for musicians and non-musicians to bring people together and create a community that exists online for only a couple of hours – with a goal to be both spontaneous and inclusive.
I studied Musical Studies and Composition for Performing Arts at the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece. I specialised in classical and contemporary composition; counterpoint; harmony orchestration with Joseph Papadatos; composition for performing arts with Dimitra Trypani and Dimitris Maragkopoulos; and History and Composition of Electronic music with Andreas Mniestris.
I enriched my music studies by learning the harpsichord and basso continuo with Katerina Michopoulou; jazz saxophone; jazz theory and harmony with Dimos Dimitriadis; piano, music psychology; music education and music philosophy as well as history of music, ear training and choir.
I completed my MA in Composition at the University of York, UK, in 2013 with supervisor Dr Thomas Simaku. She had her piece ‘Sketches for three female voices and a lonely percussionist’ work-shopped and performed by The Juice Vocal Ensemble in February 2013 during the weekly composition seminars for postgraduate students at the University. She collaborated with the students of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and performed in installations in parks and houses in Leeds. I received masterclasses with distinguished composers and performers Silvina Milstein, Roger Marsh and Martin Suckling.
Other musical ventures
As a media composer I wrote music for the short film ‘A Different Time’ produced by Shinmoro Films, for the gaming apps Broko Loco and GemBee produced by Created Informed. She self-produced animated music videos about relationships with others and with one-self which are available on YouTube.
I worked with the Early Years in Nurseries in South London and with KS1 & KS2 in primary schools in Newham. During her sessions, teaches music, musical instruments and engages children in music creativity. She teaches through investigation, experimentation and personal learning. You can find her blog and series of lesson plans specifically made to use for babies, toddlers and young children in nurseries here.
I live and work in Kent composing, playing and teaching. During the weekends you will find her and her family doing parkour around the city and then relaxing for a picnic in a nearby park. She is also a keen dancer with a diploma in Latin American and Ballroom Dances from the Greek Federation of Dance.
Piano | Saxophone | Harpsichord
Something to know
She is also a keen dancer with a diploma in Latin American and Ballroom Dances from the Greek Federation of Dance.
Reach out to Rania and follow her on Facebook, Twitter @_RaniaGold_, Instangram _raniagold_
Send her an email if you would be interested in collaborating, or would like to find out more…
rania . chrys @ gmail . com
Copyright © Rania Chrysostomou 2022