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celebrating three hundred years of music by women


(Grateful thanks to Eleanor Alberga for contributing this page; her web site is at www.EleanorAlberga.com)

Eleanor Alberga (b1949)

Alberga was born in Jamaica, came to Britain in 1970 on a scholarship to the RAM, and then settled here. Her music is both informed by her classical training and reflects the diversity of her background, which includes dancing with an authentic African dance company and singing Jamaican folksongs. The press frequently comment on the rich, colouful atmospheres she evokes, and her bright, energetic scoring. Her music has been performed by many leading orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, LMP and the Bournmouth Sinfonietta. In 1991 Alberga wrote the music for the film Escape from Kampala which was nominated for a BAFTA award.

Her many commissions encompass a wide range of solo and chamber music as well as orchestral works. Mythologies was premièred in June 2000 with Leonard Slatkin conducting. Other recent commissions include three String Quartets for the Maggini and Smith Quartets; Dancing with Shadows for Lontano; and Glinting, Glancing Shards for the Delta Saxophone Quartet. She was invited to participate in the prestigious Composer to Composer Festival in Colorado, USA, and was a featured composer at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival. Her violin concerto was commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and premièred with her husband Thomas Bowes as soloist in November 2001. The Times commented " It is rare, in the etiolated world of contemporary music, for a composer to be called back to the stage three times by an enthusiastic audience after the first performance of a work. But that was the reception accorded Alberga after the première of her new violin concerto." She has recently been awarded a NESTA scholarship to develop and experiment with compositional techniques and ideas. In the next few years she plans further instrumental, vocal and orchestral works, as well as an opera.


Click on this work for more details below:

For further details, scores and parts, email: Eleanor@EleanorAlberga.com

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No-Man's-Land Lullaby. 1996
This work was inspired by a visit to Europe, bringing imagery of the First World War, and men dying uncomforted in a place called no-man's-land. It is in three sections, based entirely on the melody that emerges towards the end.

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The Wild Blue Yonder. 1995. 13mins
There are seven motifs heard within the opening minute of the work. Excepting the last one, they are all developed and set in different relationships to one another throughout the piece. The four sections give a structural sense of 1) an exposition, 2) a development attempted by fusion, 3) a development by disintegration, and finally 4) an acknowledgement of the irreconcilable.

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No-Man's-Land Lullaby. 1996
This work was inspired by a visit to Europe, bringing imagery of the First World War, and men dying uncomforted in a place called no-man's-land. It is in three sections, based entirely on the melody that emerges towards the end.

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On a Bat's Back I do Fly. 2000
Includes tuned perc, pno, vn, vc, fl.
The title is taken from Ariel's song from Act Five of Shakespeare's The Tempest. It is a virtuosic work, particularly for the tuned percussion, in which the virtuosity expresses Ariel's fantastic world - bright, yet nocturnal and other worldly.

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String Quartet No 3. 2001
2 vn, va, vc
I: Crotchet = 92. II: Scherzo. III Crotchet = 72. IV: Finale
The theme is of a transformational journey, using the image of a river flowing from its source to its final destination. Strong elements of tonality are mixed with twelve-tone series throughout the piece.

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Dancing with the Shadow. 30 mins
Eleanor Alberga & Diana Ambache after the Quintet's first performance, Wigmore Hall London The original was written for choreographer Sue McLennan, as a 5 section work, starting with a duo, adding an instrument for each new section, up to a sextet. The Suite was adapted from sections, I, IV & V. The title implies conscious acceptance of the darker side of the human psyche to create transformation and unity.

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Piano Quintet. 2003
2 vn, va, vc, pn. 20 mins
The Ambache Chamber Ensemble commissioned this work from Alberga, with funds from London Arts, RVW Trust & the Moody Foundation; it was premièred at London's Wigmore Hall in February 2004. It is in one continuous movement with seven contrasting sections. Starting with slow, ethereal music, it develops momentum through a process of variation and addition. The Times described it as " coloured and stirrred by a lively if skittish imagination." The London Evening Standard said that " its drama and energy generated a fund of memorable musical events."

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