If you recognise the name Roger O’Donnell, it’s probably because he was formally a keyboard player with the alternative rock band The Cure. It may come as some surprise then to learn that he has spent most of the last five years composing for orchestral strings.
In 2010, having written some exploratory works for piano and cello, Roger was invited to compose for the acclaimed Toronto Corktown Chamber Orchestra. This led to the suite, ‘Quieter Trees’ which was inspired by the David Hockney painting “Bigger Trees near Warter”.
Roger loved the idea of describing colours and shapes using sound so much that that he went on the repaint the picture using violins, violas, cellos and basses. His piece in six movements was premiered in London by the children of the Centre for Young Musicians before being completed in Toronto with the orchestra.
He also collaborated with South African born composer Adam Donen to create a Requiem for a small ensemble and a suite for chamber orchestra, based on the life of the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard.
Alongside this, Roger was working on a project with Canadian-born, New York City-based musician, Julia Kent.
Julia had spent many years performing with other artists, before releasing her debut solo album ‘Delay’ which was hailed for its “lovely, melancholy” compositions, full of “aching romanticism.”
Julia has since toured Europe and North America, continuing to release music and composing for film, television, dance and theatre.
The pair came together after being asked to write a new version of the story of Scheherazade for the Post Romantic Empire project of the Italian, Giulio Di Mauro. In Spring 2011 they met again and quickly decided to add two other stories to Scheherazade and complete an album together. The result being the creation of an amazing peice of work entitled ‘Love And Other Tragedies’.
They originally planned to write one story each, but, due to Julia’s heavy touring schedule, the composition fell to Roger to complete.
Each piece is written for piano and two to four cellos, which are played by Julia. With Roger writing and sending the piano files from his studio in rural Devon to Julia, who recorded her part in her studio in New York.
The result is a beautifully harmonious peice of work, due to be released on vinyl on 29th May. Gloriously elegant and faultlessly composed and performed, ‘Love and Other Tragedies’ is an absolute must have for real music-lovers everywhere.
Love and Other Tragedies
The Variations – Les Variations – Le Variazioni
Tristan and Isolde – Love and Devotion
Scheherezade – Le Triomphe de L’Amour sur La Haine
Orpheus and Eurydice – L’Amore Cieco per Sempre Perduto
Il Regno Dei Morti
‘Love and Other Tragedies by Roger O’Donnell and Julia Kent is due for release on 29th May.
For further details visit Roger O’Donnell’s Facebook page.