Smorgaschord Festival 2023: Ligeti Day

Last week in Oxford the third SmorgasChord festival took place at the Holywell Music Room and Christ Church Cathedral. Directed by composer Sebastian Black (Christ Church 2014) and cellist Eliza Millett (Lincoln College 2014), the festival has an emphasis on new music, relaxed concerts, and creative programming. Smorgaschord 2023 celebrated the centenary of the Hungarian composer, György Ligeti, and featured pianist Danny Driver, horn-player Ben Goldscheider, the Kleio String Quartet, and violinist Stephen Waarts.

Sebastian Black (Christ Church 2014) is a British / NZ musician who was born in 1996 in Colchester, UK. His music has been commissioned by Aldeburgh Music, the BBC, Mahler Foundation (for Het Concertgebouw), Cambridge University and New Music North West. Aged only 14, Kollaps, for clarinet and electronics, received its premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, London, by Jordan Black in 2010. This was followed by Five Lorca Settings (Jesus College, Cambridge, 2011), Notturno (Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 2012), and Narcissus (Manchester, 2013). More recent works have included Chrysalis (Christ Church, Oxford, 2015, subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3), Idyll-Cortège (Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 2017) and Grand Pas de Cinq (KCL, 2018). In 2010, he won the BBC Young Composer as one of the youngest ever winners. He studied with Sir George Benjamin at King’s College London for his masters, for which he was awarded the Hilda Margaret Watts Prize. He previously studied at the University of Oxford and Chetham’s School of Music. He has also performed extensively as a pianist and curated music festivals in Manchester and Oxford. He co-directs SmorgasChord. Forthcoming projects include the (postponed) premiere of The Mosaique of the Aire, originally commissioned by the Mahler Foundation for Het Concertgebouw’s Mahler Festival 2020, in addition to the premiere of I Heard Nothing But The Roaring Sea at SmorgasChord 2021. He is represented on SOUNZ Centre for NZ Music Toi Te Arapūoro

Cellist Eliza Millett (Lincoln College 2014) is a graduate of the University of Oxford, attaining First-class Honours in Music, and of the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she studied cello with Christoph Richter. Eliza has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in a number of UK venues such as Wigmore Hall, IMS Prussia Cove, St John's Smith Square and St James Piccadilly, and has taken masterclasses with international musicians such as Adrian Brendel, Colin Carr, Johannes Moser and Gary Hoffman. She is a founder member of the award-winning Echea Quartet, currently Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal College of Music and recent recipients of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Albert and Eugenie Frost Chamber Music Prize. The quartet has appeared at international festivals in Ireland, Aix-en-Provence, Argentina and at the Banff Centre in Canada, as well as performing and winning the ‘Tremplin’ award at the Philharmonie de Paris’ String Quartet Biennial (2020). The Echéa Quartet’s dedication to new music is central to their work: they have commissioned works by UK-based composers, including Louise Drewett, Freya Waley-Cohen and Robert Laidlow, and have worked closely with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Andrew Norman and Henning Kraggerud. Eliza plays on a W.E. Hill & Sons cello (2019), generously on loan from the Harrison-Frank Trust. She co-directs SmorgasChord.

For more information about the festival, please visit the Smorgaschord website.