An extraordinary performance of `A Richer Dust’

Posted in News on August 23rd, 2018 by Nigel – Comments Off on An extraordinary performance of `A Richer Dust’

Malene Sheppard Skaerved at the French premiere of (her)`A Richer Dust’. Malene’s haunting words gave us all something to think about in Strasbourg!


Malene Sheppard Skaerved and myself attended an extraordinary performance of `A Richer Dust’ (9th June) given by the Wind Orchestra at the Conservatoire et de l’Académie Superieure de Musique de Strasbourg under the inspired direction of conductor Miguel Etchegoncelay.

The staged concert performance was a cross-collaboration with the music school and the visual arts school and the conservatoire. For me it was a joy to see the creativity and skill that had gone in to this performance. Thank you again to the outstanding students and staff (Francois Duconseille and Miguel Etchegoncelay) and the rest of the team at the Conservatoire et de l’Académie Superieure de Musique de Strasbourg!

With thanks to Recitante:

Juliette Weller

Atelier Communication graphique:

Amarie Damageux, Lyne Ea, Julien Gatard, Yi Chin Lai, Jean Laniau, Clara Luzolanu, Margaux Montfort, Sabrina Muschio

Atelier Scénographie:

Ines Geulfucci & Capitolina Tcvetkova

With thanks to all the staff at the Conservatoire who have dedicated themselves to this event:

Alexandra David, Philippe Delangle, Francois Duconseille, Miguel Etchegoncelay, Loin Horellou et Oh Euh Lee


Photo from the Dress rehearsal

Malene Sheppard Skaerved talks to the Wind Orchestra at the Conservatoire et de l’Académie Superieure de Musique de Strasbourg her thought provoking text to `A Richer Dust’


Photos by: A. Schlub


The narrator in rehearsal for `A Richer Dust’

In concert!

Miguel Etchegoncelay put some finishing touches to the orchestra in the dress rehearsal

Gagarin lands in Kidderminster

Posted in News on February 28th, 2018 by Nigel – Comments Off on Gagarin lands in Kidderminster

The Premiere of “Christina’s Memory Garden” – An Operatic Melodrama for Soprano, Trumpet, Storytellers & Symphonic Wind Orchestra

Posted in News on January 4th, 2018 by Nigel – Comments Off on The Premiere of “Christina’s Memory Garden” – An Operatic Melodrama for Soprano, Trumpet, Storytellers & Symphonic Wind Orchestra

by Malene Sheppard Skaerved




Malene Sheppard Skaerved writes about her work:



Across time, cultures, nations, we share one memory: we are all born by a mother.  Ironically this universal experience is unremembered, often ignored, considered taboo, inappropriate, too dirty to discuss.

Childbirth is miraculous and perilous.  It has killed many women and infants throughout history.  It still kills.  It ought to be commemorated.

This movement uses data from an actual birth (my son) woven with the history of childbirth, and with the memories of deities who protected fearful women from its danger.  It finishes with a lullaby, perhaps the only completely female oral tradition, sung to babies of all cultures.

`Christina’s Memory Garden’ is dedicated to singer and aspiring scientist: Christina Ippoliti, cornet & trumpet player: Harmen Vanhoorne, conductor: Matthew J. George and the University of St Thomas Wind Ensemble in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In the honour of the soprano, Christina Ippoliti, the piece explores historical Christinas, and pays homage to both famous and anonymous women, their stories and choices.  Prominently featured, are Queen Kristina of Sweden (1626-1689), Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World (1948) and unknown Christinas telling their stories.



Queen Christina of Sweden (`Drottning Kristina av Sverige’) was an extraordinary woman (1626 – 1689).  She was a great life-force, a wit and highly intelligent.  But most significantly, she did as she pleased.  At times, the consequences of this were severe, but not because of her sex.  Her father, King Gustavus Adolphus the Great,defender of the protestant faith through the 30 year war, changed Swedish law to make her Queen.  But by 28, tired of Sweden, Christina abdicated and travelled to Rome where she converted to Catholicism.  She is one of only three women buried in Saint Peter‘s in Rome.  Her life veered between the inspirational and disastrous. She was susceptible to flattery and was often cheated, and once had a servant killed in a manner that shocked her contemporaries, even in her blood-soaked age.  She spent money she did not have, but loved Art, Music and Science. In defiance of Pope Sixtus V, she let women perform on stage.  She is remembered as an early prototype for modern woman.



We all live on one planet, humans and animals together.  Whatever happens to the Earth, both natural and manmade disasters, affects us all, no matter what we believe.  We humans can both create and destroy; often we forget we are not the only inhabitants of this world. In the future, how will we choose to live? Who will we be? In this final movement, the animals come up with some answers.  Humans are stupid, they sing (Often I wonder – is that true?).  Animals and the humans sing together, about the Environment, Knowledge, Art, reminding us that we all make important, consequential choices, every day.  Life may be universal but as the privileged few, we have a duty to live it responsibly, dutifully, carefully. We hope that we might leave the Earth a better place for all, animals and humans alike.


Malene Sheppard Skærved



About The Music

I have had the great privilege to have recently soundscaped, Malene Sheppard Skaerved’s operatic melodrama `Christina’s Memory Garden’. My function as the composer, has been very much the same as if scoring for a feature film – The music is always secondary, functional and has to be at all times loyal to the script. Often in a stage-drama or film, music is at it’s best when it goes unnoticed, camouflaged and intertwines and melds with the story. It has often been said that John Williams score to `Star Wars’ is that of a `space opera’ – Though this drama, is not set “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”, I have gone with this tried and tested approach to scoring `Christina’s Memory Garden’. While Malene’s script leads throughout, the backcloth of music is an artistic device to reflect, pre-empt and comment on the drama at hand. It would be true to say, that the music takes on the role of an invisible-actor, gently encouraging the audience to respond to the writer/creators thoughts, ideas  stories and emotions. `Christina’s Memory Garden’ was commissioned by the University of St Thomas faculty member, Dr Thomas Ippoliti. I am thrilled that Malene’s drama features two soloists’ throughout, Soprano Christina Ippoliti and Cornet/Trumpet player Harmen Vanhoorne.  Nigel Clarke



Composition & Craft 1st December 7.30pm

Posted in News on November 8th, 2017 by Nigel – Comments Off on Composition & Craft 1st December 7.30pm

City of London Symphonic Winds perform “A Richer Dust”

Posted in News on October 9th, 2017 by Nigel – Comments Off on City of London Symphonic Winds perform “A Richer Dust”