LSO Jerwood Composer+ Showcase

holding, breathing, beating

Curated by Rufus Isabel Elliot


Pre-concert, playing in the hall
Marja Ahti Coastal Inversion

Liza Lim Amulet
Tansy Davies Dark Ground
Brian Ferneyhough Cassandra’s Dream Song
Cassandra Miller for mira
Interval – 20 minutes
James Weeks winterærc (world premiere)
Rufus Isabel Elliot I knapped the stone til it was gone / I laid it on the forest floor (world premiere)

Mira Benjamin violin
Chihiro Ono viola
Daniel Shao flute
Sam Walton percussion

The concert will finish at approximately 8.45pm


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LSO Jerwood Composer+ is generously supported by the Jerwood Developing Artists Fund

Jerwood Arts logo

Artwork © Rufus Isabel Elliot

Introduced by Rufus Isabel Elliot

'You’re alone, crossing rough ground, moving amongst trees. Dressed in dark clothes, you follow the walkway to the hazel grove. The light is fading, and inside you there is an empty space. It’s a strange, urgent feeling – a question – why are you running?

Numerous answers to this question lie on the periphery of your vision – hope, safety, freedom, fear, hurt. In music, these answers live as fossilised metaphors, found in how a musician plays their instrument, in how they read a score, or perform together with others.

In putting together this event, I hoped to enter a world defined by these questions and answers. Transformed into a Daphne-figure, running through the forest, we see these emotions – fear, hurt, hope, and longing for safety and freedom – made flesh in four solo works and an intimate duet. In the end we see the figure itself, the empty space, moving through the trees, in my new work I knapped the stone.'

About the Scheme

LSO Jerwood Composer+ supports early-career composers in planning and delivering two artistic outcomes. Composers gain valuable knowledge and practical experience to develop their own opportunities and careers.

The scheme supports two composers each year through a 15-month placement. Mentored by LSO staff, they are encouraged to develop entrepreneurial skills around programming for specific audiences, planning, marketing, budgeting, fundraising and evaluation.

Marja Ahti

Coastal Inversion

Pre-concert, playing in the hall

Liza Lim


✒️1992 | ⏰ 7 minutes

Amulet : a talisman or charm object intended to bring good luck or protection to its owner.

Note by Liza Lim

Tansy Davies

Dark Ground

✒️2005 | ⏰ 8 minutes

Dark Ground inhabits an imaginary space where a ritual takes place. I see the space as a circle, and within that circle, cyclic patterns and formations are enacted, each leaving a mark on the space, or an echo that resounds beneath what follows.

Everything grows up from a root – the pedal bass drum – a dead sound, with a cycle in a simple yet deceptive 7/8 time signature. The shapes and patterns that grow from the bass drum have directions of their own, but when they stray too far, they lose power and disappear. Like gravity, the bass drum pulls things to the ground.

Note by Tansy Davies

Brian Ferneyhough

Cassandra’s Dream Song

✒️1970 | ⏰ 9 minutes

When composing this short work, one of my main preoccupations was a personal clarification of the extremely ambiguous relationship then existing between notation and interpretation in contemporary musical practice. I defined two completely autonomous processes. One – a series of seven highly structured, slowly evolving and expanding commentaries on and around a single pitch (A natural). Two – a group of six fragments, highly contrasted and non-linear in character, to be interpolated between the seven elements of the first category. These six fragments should be in an order selected by the performer. The resulting intersection and sometimes forceful collision of two distinct types of material and formal principle can only be reconciled by the mediatory influence of the individual performer. 

The final sounding result is not precisely definable in advance, arising as it does from the intent of the performer to realise as many of the highly-specific notated actions as possible. The reaction between the instrument, thrust to the limits of its own inherent nature, and the performer has been conceived so as to give rise to a new synthesis in which the traditional concept of 'interpretation' has simultaneously been negated and transcended. 

Note by Brian Ferneyhough

Cassandra Miller

for mira

✒️2012 | ⏰ 5 minutes

A dedication to violinist Mira Benjamin, for her down-to-earth, no-nonsense gritty focus. Composing this piece was a play of translations: it is a reworking for violin of a computer-made transcription of an un-plugged performance of Kurt Cobain singing Where did you sleep last night (also called In the Pines – a traditional American folk song often attributed to Lead Belly).

Note by Cassandra Miller

Interval – 20 minutes

Tonight's performance will continue following a short interval. Refreshments can be purchased from the bar in The Crypt Café downstairs. Card payments only.

James Weeks

winterærc (world premiere)

✒️2023 | ⏰ 12 minutes

winterærc is derived from my piece ærc duos (2016/18), which is itself derived from ærc (2016), for a large number of orchestral string instruments. 'ærc' is the Old English word for ark, derived from the Latin 'arca' – a chest. Here it denotes an enclosed space, of refuge or safety, where intimacy can be expressed: an inward-looking, private music.

Note by James Weeks

Rufus Isabel Elliot

I knapped the stone til it was gone / I laid it on the forest floor (world premiere)

✒️2023 | ⏰ 18 minutes

Between the leaves – once a generation –
we caught a glimpse of the figure
naive, and scarred across with curved branching shadows
silently stepping wide arches through pathless forest.

We gave chase.
Relentless, exhausted, staggering, we saw it flickering.
We sacrificed it in the hazel grove.

We pulled it back up.
It was all line and shape.

We saw it flickering

We saw it

We saw it flickering
hungry, cold, cut across —

We walked through the forest with it.

Note by Rufus Isabel Elliot

Composer Rufus Isabel Elliot

© Bethany Chalmers

© Bethany Chalmers

Rufus Isabel Elliot

composer & curator

© Bethany Chalmers

Rufus Isabel Elliot (it/its) is a composer and musician originally from Tower Hamlets, living now in North West Scotland. Rufus has written funerary music for doomed spaceships and orchestral music about rotting seaweed. It cares about honesty and openness. Its work is concerned with testimony, the conditions in which one speaks out, and how those stories are passed on.

Its music is ‘fluid and ambitious’ (The Wire), ‘stunningly intimate’ (The Quietus), and ‘achingly fragile’ (The Scotsman).

So far this year, Rufus has enjoyed working on a new work for Tectonics Festival, and a new collaborative work with artists Miek Zwamborn and Rutger Emmelkamp of Knockvologan Studies, Isle of Mull.

Artist Biographies

Mira Benjamin


Violin Mira Benjamin

Mira Benjamin is a Canadian violinist, researcher and new-music instigator. She performs new and old music with an experimental outlook, and is interested in how the human body holds and experiences knowledge. After growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Mira spent ten years in Montréal, where she was a member of the Bozzini Quartet. Since 2014 she has resided in the UK, where she performs regularly as a violinist with Apartment House and Plus Minus Ensemble, and is Lecturer in Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Chihiro Ono


Viola Chihiro Ono

Born in Chiba, Japan, Chihiro Ono is a London-based Japanese sound artist and violinist specialising in chamber music, experimental music and sound art. She has performed at major festivals and venues across the UK and worldwide, and regularly works with esteemed experimental and classical ensembles including Ensemble Modern, Apartment House, CHROMA, London Mozart Players, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and more.

Daniel Shao


Flute Daniel Shao

© Pat Davey

© Pat Davey

Daniel Shao is a British-Chinese flautist raised in London. He studied at the Purcell School, Oxford University, and Royal Academy, graduating from both universities with Distinction. He has been invited to perform concertos with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Oxford Philharmonic, and Orchestra of the Swan, and is a Countess of Munster Recital Scheme artist. He is currently an Associate Member of the Philharmonia and has performed with the London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony, European Union Youth Orchestra and Lucerne Festival Academy.

Sam Walton


Percussionist Sam Walton

Sam joined the LSO as Co-Principal Percussion in 2012. He has performed with many UK orchestras including the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, the London Sinfonietta and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. As a chamber musician, Sam is a member of the Colin Currie Group, the Colin Currie Quartet and the LSO Percussion Ensemble. He is also Principal Percussion for the John Wilson Orchestra. He has performed on various movie soundtracks including Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and plays in a variety of West End shows. He is percussion tutor for the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Thank You for Listening

The London Symphony Orchestra was established in 1904. Through inspiring music, educational programmes and technological innovations, the LSO’s reach extends far beyond the concert hall.

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