Meet the composers behind 'New Beginnings'

Meet the composers behind 'New Beginnings'
Providing support to composers looking to take the next step in their career, Nonclassical’s ‘Associate Composers Scheme’ provides artists with a development platform and a plethora of opportunities. Our New Beginnings concert (23/2/23) features the premieres of new commissions by four ‘Associate Composers’.

Find out about the composers behind the works.

Elaine Mitchener

Elaine Mitchener is an experimental vocalist, movement artist, and composer, whose work encompasses improvisation, contemporary music, theatre, and performance art.

Born in East London to Jamaican parents, Elaine studied voice at Trinity College of Music, London, and currently studies with Jacqueline Bremar. She has performed at numerous UK and European festivals, venues, and galleries, including Aldeburgh Music, and London Contemporary Music Festival (LCMF), and has worked and performed in a wide variety of contexts with an array of leading musicians, composers, directors, and visual artists.

Elaine is co-founder of the experimental jazz quartet, the Hawkins/Mitchener Quartet, and a regular vocalist with the ensemble, Apartment House. She created the role of Hannah/Voice singing with tenor, Mark Padmore, in the opera, CAVE, by composer, Tansy Davies, with libretto by Nick Drake, co-commissioned by the London Sinfonietta / Royal Opera House and directed by Lucy Bailey, which premiered in June 2018. Her production company, Elaine Mitchener Projects, has researched, developed, produced, and toured or staged a number of projects, including Industrialising Intimacy (with choreographers Dam Van Huynh, David Toop, George Lewis); The Nude Voice (with Dam Van Huynh) commissioned for the Wellcome Collection London’s THIS IS A VOICE exhibition; and SWEET TOOTH in partnership with Bluecoat Liverpool, Stuart Hall Foundation and the International Slavery Museum. Premiered in Nov 2017, SWEET TOOTH has been described as ‘a vital black British addition to those seminal creative statements of resistance and defiance from the African Diaspora’, and was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now programme (Dec 2017).

Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901 - 1953)

An American composer and folk music specialist, Ruth Crawford Seeger is regarded by many as the most important American female composer of the 20th Century. With dissonance a feature of her works, alongside post-tonal harmonies and irregular rhythms, she was a leading figure in the modernist aesthetic, and was central to a group of American composers known as the ‘ultramoderns’.

Specialising in folk music from the late 1930s until her death, Crawford Seeger created works for use in primary schools and homes. Her mission was “to give back to the people songs that belong to them”. (Ruth Crawford Seeger, American Folk Songs for Christmas).

Atefeh Einali (Associate Composer)

Atefeh Einali is a composer and performer based in Manchester UK. Much of her work and research explores the musical possibilities of combining traditional Persian musical practices with Western contemporary music. A graduate of the University of Manchester and the Art University of Tehran, Atefeh’s work has been performed internationally by leading ensembles and at major venues, including Psappha Ensemble, Bach Festival, Akternance Ensemble, Trio Atem, and more. Alongside composing, Atefeh is also an active Santoor player, having performed in the UK, Netherlands, and Iran. Her ensemble, Avazad Fusion Ensemble, with Eliorah Goodman, is a unique collaboration, integrating different folk traditions into the classical contemporary scene through performance, composition, and educational work.

Simon Knighton (Associate Composer)

Simon Knighton is a composer and sound artist whose work investigates the interplay between acoustic instruments and electronically produced sound. Using acoustic and psychoacoustic phenomena to blur the boundaries between different types of sound, his methods push non-conventional aspects of music composition to the fore, leading to work that sits on the boundary of concert, installation, ritual and theatre. Simon enjoys working closely with musicians in order to explore and sample their playing in fine detail. These pre-recorded samples then form a key part of the composition process, before being manipulated and fed back into performance to create dense yet homogeneous sound worlds.

After completing a degree in music technology in 2006, Simon spent eight years in Liverpool working as a musician and sound engineer. In 2016, he moved abroad to study for a master’s degree in composition at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, under the supervision of Willem Jeths and Joël Bons. Simon is currently studying for a Ph.D. at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, under the supervision of Larry Goves and Emily Howard.

He is currently working on a series of Sound Sculptures (one for each instrument family and a final one for symphony orchestra) through which he aims to develop a musical vocabulary that presents the instruments of the orchestra in new and interesting ways.

Emily Abdy (Associate Composer)

Emily’s creative practice draws influence from techniques and styles associated with contemporary-classical composition, popular songwriting, poetry, filmmaking, and experimental performance. Her pieces are nearly always involuntarily auto-ethnographic and often touch on wider socially relevant topics such as mental health, body image, gender, and the conventions of the music industry. Emily often performs her own work, utilising her past experience as a classically trained violinist and a grass-roots gigging singer-songwriter. Her piece for viola and spoken word, Ruminant, was recently released by Birmingham Record Company through NMC recordings and she self-released a short collection of pieces for an alternative orchestral line-up earlier this year, which focused on themes of domestic abuse, body image and trauma. Emily is currently completing her masters degree in composition at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Elischa Kaminer (Associate Composer)

Elischa Kaminer is a London based composer, performer and theatre maker. His work is located on the intersections of music theatre, sound art, electronic, concert, queer-pop, and yiddish musics. Recent works often take on the form of continuously evolving electro-acoustic landscapes as well as musical and choreographic scores, moulded into and out of the specific performers’ very own artistry, humour, physicality and musicality. Elischa’s work has been showcased at theatres, concert halls and festivals across Europe, regularly collaborating with choreographers, video, fine artists, and performance collectives.

Elischa is artistic director of London based experimental music group, Ensemble x.y. From 2016 - 18, he was Associate Composer with the ensemble and co-curator of x.y FM, a monthly radio show on Resonance Extra, committed to commissioning and broadcasting new music, sound, and radio art. From 2010-2014, Elischa studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London, followed by postgraduate studies at the Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaften, Gießen, supported by the Gerhard C. Starck Stiftung scholarship.

Alex Paxton

"highly innovative...of exceptional creative imagination and musical energy, packed with life force unlike anything else” BBC Magazine, Ivor Novello British Composer Awards.

Alex Paxton is an award-winning composer and improvising - trombonist based in the UK. His awards include: Ernst von Siemens Composer Prize, Paul Hindemith Prize, and Ivor Novello Composer. Additionally, Alex won the RPS Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, Dankworth Jazz Composition prize for his composition, BYE, and was made a London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Composer.

His music has been played/recorded/ commissioned by leading orchestras and ensembles, including Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), Philharmonia Orchestra, AskSchöenberg, Riot Ensemble, Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), and National Youth Orchestra (BBC proms 2021).

Alex has also written six operas, including NOGGIN and the WHALE (Massed forces including 500 young instrumentalists and singes), and FOR the LOVE of THORNSTIEN SHIVER, hosted by English National Opera and Helios Collective.

Alex is professorial composition staff at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and has worked as lead-composition tutor (and workshop leader) on the National Youth Orchestra GB. He has also lectured composition and improvisation at conservatories including, RAM, GSMD & RCM (and multiple universities in the UK).

Julius Eastman (1940 – 1990)

An American composer, pianist, vocalist, and choreographer, Julius Eastman described his own music as ‘organic’, combining minimalist processes with elements of pop music and experimental techniques. He grew up in New York, where he worked as a chorister, and began learning the piano at 14. During his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman discovered his passion for composition.

Eastman’s compositions often commented on social-political issues, including race relations and queerness. It wasn’t until after his death in 1990 that he received acclaim as a minimalist and classical composer.

Meet the conductor, Toby Thatcher

Toby Thatcher is an Australian/British conductor. He is also co-founder & conductor of Ensemble x.y, Artistic Director of Zeitgeist, & founder & Artistic Director of the Nineteenth Circle.

During 2023/24 Toby will debut with Ensemble Intercontemporain, Musikfabrik, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia & Ensemble Synaesthesis, and return to the Slovenian Philharmonic, Ensemble Modern, the Australian Youth Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia & the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

In 2022 Toby was guest Assistant Conductor to the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Between 2020-2021, he was Assistant Conductor to the Orchestre National de France. Between 2018-19, he was mentored by Peter Eötvös. In 2019 he was Conducting Fellow at the Cabrillo Festival, under Cristian Măcelaru. Between 2015-17 Toby was Assistant Conductor to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (under David Robertson) as well as being invited by the London Philharmonic Orchestra as guest assistant to Vladimir Jurowski.

Toby has worked with ensembles internationally including Orchestre National de France, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Ensemble Modern, Slovenian Philharmonic, Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Basel, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Panon Philharmonic, Riot Ensemble, Auckland Philharmonia & Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Toby has been invited as guest speaker by the Royal Academy of Music, University of the Arts London & the British Association of Romantic Studies. He has appeared on BBC Radio 3 & the ABC.

Toby graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with an MA in Music Performance. As an orchestral musician he performed regularly with the London Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, & London Sinfonietta.