The Lord Mayor's Composition Prize for 2019 was awarded to London-based composer and performer Joanna Ward for her work for contralto, viola and piano entitled cuts, rounds, slow moving. It was premiered at St Stephen Walbrook on 5 October 2021 in a concert by Amy Holyland (mezzo-soprano), James Flannery (viola) and Elizabeth Rossiter (piano) alongside music by Telemann and Brahms, followed by the presentation of the award to the composer by Alderman Sir David Wootton. For the second performance in a City Music Society Lunchtime Concert at St Bartholomew the Great on 7 October, Amy Holyland and Elizabeth Rossiter were joined by Kate De Campos.
Joanna Ward was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne and read music at Jesus College, Cambridge, where she studied with Richard Causton and graduated with a first class degree. She continued her studies with a Masters in Composition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she studied primarily with Cassandra Miller. She is a Yeoman of the Musicians' Company (click here for further details).
As a composer, she has worked with professional musicians and prestigious arts organisations both in this country and beyond. Her compositional practice ranges across genres encompassing conventional forms/media such as opera, instrumental works and choral writing as well as theatrical pieces, experimental electronic and ambient music. She is interested in collaged and collaborative sonic aesthetics, combining conventional notation with intimate, hand-drawn graphic elements and her work is embedded in her deep love of pop music. Her approach is inherently political, with contemporary feminist, queer and decolonial thinking at its core; she regards the questioning of how be a composer today in a way that is engaged with such thinking as essential. She often focuses on the incorporation of musical influences across popular and contemporary experimental sound-worlds and the conscious challenging of canonical assumptions about structure and time in order to expand the language of signification within composition. Click on Joanna Ward’s photo to visit her website.
Joanna Ward says about cuts, rounds, slow moving:
This piece is an exploration both of time and structure and of the feelings about living in London expressed so beautifully in Amy Lowell’s poem A London Thoroughfare. 2AM. The titles for the three sections (cuts, round, slow-moving) are taken from the text itself and reflect the mode of structural organisation with which I have played in that section. The first movement, cuts, is fragmented and given breathing space by frequent general pause bars, forcing the performers to re-connect and gather their thoughts before playing the next phrase, slowly revealing and exploring the text. The second, rounds, repeats the same text material several times, using variation to create a looped structure which gives the performers and listener time and space to look at the text and music from different angles. The last section, slow moving, is stretched, using minimal material over a relatively long time as well as fragmenting and mis-emphasising words and syllables, in order to re- frame how time usually passes in a musical setting of a text. These three explorations of temporal structure within the setting of this text have helped me explore Lowell’s, and my own, feelings about living in London - isolation, repetition, coldness, coming to notice the minutiae of daily rituals, city-never-sleeping temporal disorientation and the time it takes to do absolutely anything.
The cover page of the score is shown below, click on the image to access a link to the score.
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