Biography

Short Biography

I am a composer, multi-instrumentalist and musical director who leads Turner Contemporary’s resident choir The Big Sing, gospel choir en Choir and jazz and classical choir Fellowship of the Sing. I receive commissions to compose new choral and instrumental works and received Arts Council England funding in 2013 for my new project, Sounds Like Art.

I am passionate about working with, and composing music for, community choirs, bringing choral music to those who may not otherwise have access to it, and exploring methods of teaching choral music to singers who cannot read music.

As a composer I am interesting in creating music for performance in unexpected venues and often form collaborations with sign language interpreters and instrumental ensembles.

I am also a freelance music journalist and write about working as a freelance musician, the perception of musicians and fair pay for musicians. I teach singing and piano, work as a session vocalist, manage a party band called Abnormally Funky and sit on the Musicians Union’s Music Writers’ Committee. I regularly publish stories and tales of the music industry on my no-holds-barred public emilie blog. I live by the sea in Kent with my dogs, cats, five pianos, an expansive rubber chicken collection and a vegetable plot.

  

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Full Biography

I grew up in the fishing town of Grimsby into an eclectic family of contortionists, ballet dancers, actors and artists. At the age of four I started to bash the hell out of my Grandmothers old piano and was diverted towards music lessons. Throughout my childhood learning instruments became an obsession; by the age of sixteen I had studied flute, guitar, piano, percussion, drum kit and singing. I started performing around folk clubs in Grimsby and Humberside at this time.

In 2000 I studied sound production, composition and ethnomusicology at City University, London, and opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2005 I received a grant to attend English National Opera’s vocal course The Knack, under director Mary King, which led to performing in the debut opera Purcell: His Ground at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Living in London opened up many musical possibilities and in 2006, I made the unusual transition from singing opera to working as a jazz and soul singer. I have since continued to perform in bands and, as a solo jazz singer, musician and session vocalist.

Moving to Kent in 2006 signalled a career change as I took on my first choir, The Oyster Singers. In 2011 I formed a contemporary choir, en Choir, to sing my contemporary choral arrangements and was approached to lead Turner Contemporary’s resident choir: The Big Sing. I never thought I would lead choirs, and had never wanted to, but I now know that, for me, choirs are where it’s at.

In 2013 I received a grant from Arts Council England to develop my Sounds Like Art project, which explores another passion of mine: creating new music and performances through combined art forms. Through the creation of new musical works, which are inspired by art or creative spaces, Sounds Like Art aims to explore connections between art and music and how one may enhance and provide insight into the other. In April 2014 the first Sounds Like Art composition, Landscapes, debuted at Turner Contemporary. The next Sounds Like Art performance will debut a selection of contemporary arrangements for choir and steel band for Jeremy Deller’s English Magic exhibition opening celebration at Turner Contemporary on Saturday the 11th of October 2014, at 2pm and 5pm.

In October 2014, I aim to start my PHD under the guidance of the Sydney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health at Canterbury Christ Church University. I am interested in researching and composing repertoire for community and ‘singing for health’ choirs.

January 2014