Updated: Oct 14, 2020
equality factor: representative for a new generation of females of classical music on the rise
composed for: London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata a.o.
based in: London
At a mere 25 years of age, British composer Grace-Evangeline Mason already created works for some of the most prominent players in the classical music scene of the UK: the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Manchester Camerata, and many more acclaimed artists and ensembles. With her compositions, the Royal Northern College of Music of Manchester graduate seeks to create holistically captivating soundscapes. As a young woman in classical music, we applaud her for collaborating with and telling the stories of female figureheads like herself.
Described by the BBC as having "a keen ear for musical texture - from dreamy hazes of electronic sound to sumptuous choral writing", Grace-Evangeline Mason is a remarkable representative for an up-and-coming generation of young composers, ready to revolutionize the classical world. In 2013, she debuted with her work "Convergence", a composition she received the BBC Proms Inspire Young Composer of the Year award for. Today, as she is pursuing her doctorate at the Royal Academy of Music, London, her catalogue of works already encompasses an impressive amount of choral, orchestral, and solo works, as well as a chamber opera in one act, titled "The Yellow Wallpaper"(2016).
"I have a longing to write works that take my listener on a journey to experience a particular sound-world and envelop them within it, even if only for a brief moment."
Her works, enchantingly titled after poetic scenery or picturesque scenarios, are mostly inspired by a certain feeling or atmosphere the composer wishes to convey through sound. In the case of "Kintsukuroi: (Golden Repair)"(2016), performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the 2017 edition of the prestigious New Music North West Festival, Mason was inspired by the Japanese art of the mending broken ceramic works by connecting the broken pieces with golden, silver or bronze adhesive. Sonically, the picture of a beautiful bond of broken edges, fixed and visually enhanced by being put together again is painted gracefully by two contrasting layers of sound. "In this piece, fleeting and delicate lines encircle the opening above a dark, undulating texture that builds until it suddenly breaks, which resembles the shattering of the pot. We are then placed into a constant and iridescent soundworld reflecting the intentions of the art form; it has been made more beautiful by having been broken", the composer describes the work herself.
Between inanimate decorative objectives just as well as intangible feelings, Grace-Evangeline Mason often finds her inspiration in contemporary artwork and early twentieth-century poetry. She begins the composting process with the urge to sonically convey a certain feeling, to create an intangible air that is both self-expression as much as it lives and grows through the ear of the beholder. In an intuitive endeavor, she mostly finds herself creating the base of work while playing out improvised scenarios on the piano - late at night to be free of distractions. Before finally putting the notes of the individual fragments of musical material down on paper, the Royal Philharmonic Society member seeks to dive deeper into the concept of her work, by adding a visual layer to the slowly shaping concept: she sits down to paint. Over the years, her watercolor works have become a fixed component to her work, both capturing the source of her inspiration and further deepening the concept she is engrossed in.
With her spherical soundscapes, Grace-Evangeline Mason sets the tone for a generation of contemporary composers that seek to enrich the classical music scene by both honouring the past and setting foot into the future.
She finds inspiration in the works of classical legends, for instance in "Mahler's Letters", a work inspired by the life and lines from the many letters of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, composed for the Liverpool Philharmonic. The premiere of the choral work, based on four of Mason's self-written poems, will take place later this year, on June 11th under the baton of conductor Ellie Slorach.
The upcoming performances and premieres of Grace-Evangeline Mason's scheduled for 2020 - among which are several UK premieres and North American interpretations of her work - definitely make the young composer one "face to watch" in classical music, as described by UK newspaper The Times. However, beyond being an incredibly talented composer and sophisticated artist from a young age on, Grace-Evangeline Mason also uses her voice to fight for causes she stands for. On her Twitter account, Mason frequently advocates for the protection and preservation of classical music.
"Music has a profound impact on child development; so let's give them lots of food for thought!"
With a voice that is young but accomplished beyond her years, she encourages musical education of children and shines a light on women within, and outside classical music. In another work to be premiered later this year, "In Her Own Valley", Grace-Evangeline tells the story of Hannah Lightbody, a pioneer woman of great importance in the English industrial revolution. The staged cantata featuring combined youth and children's choirs is not only about a historically significant woman, composed by a young female pioneer of classical music - it is also based on the libretto by the dramatist, facilitator, and classically trained soprano Lila Palmer. Both with her work and her rapidly accelerating career as a classical composer, Grace-Evangeline Mason is representative of a new generation of females of classical music on the rise - and our astonishing artist and equality ambassador of the week!