1 May 2018

Life Cycle – songs about impending motherhood

Life Cycle traces the emotional journey of impending motherhood through the music of highly regarded composer Emily Hall and the words of acclaimed poet Toby Litt. It's presented by Gian Slater (vocals), Sonya Lifschitz (piano), Zoe Knighton (cello).

Zoe Knighton: "Song cycles invariably tell an emotional story, but this one hit me immediately with the absolute sincerity of the text and the way the music hugs the words. It is the ultimate tribute to motherhood. In first hearing these songs, I felt simultaneously grateful for my mother and also for the gift of motherhood which is one of life's most precious. One of the most extraordinary elements of this work is that the words truly get inside the pregnant psyche ... and they were written by a man."

Moving, occasionally shocking and ultimately uplifting, its story develops through the themes of anxiety and impatience which often comes with pregnancy, through sleepless nights nursing a newborn and the changing perspective of watching a child grow.

Life Cycle is about the rarely explored theme of the wonder and lurking fear of motherhood. It is composed by the highly regarded young British composer Emily Hall, with lyrics by acclaimed author Toby Litt. Toby Litt’s lyrics have an almost uncanny ability to capture female experiences of motherhood, and has returned to the theme of losing and having children both in fiction and in his autobiographical writing.

Life cycle was commissioned by Opera North (UK) and was premiered in 2011. Emily Hall and Toby Litt have collaborated on three songs cycles to date. Others include Befalling on unrequited love and Rest on death.


Further reading

Life Cycle

Life Cycle traces the emotional journey of impending motherhood through the music of highly regarded composer Emily Hall and the words of acclaimed poet Toby Litt. It's presented by Gian Slater (vocals), Sonya Lifschitz (piano), Zoe Knighton (cello)

Zoë Knighton

Zoë is at the fore of a new generation of performer intent on forging an innovative path for the enjoyment of 'classical' music. She is a founding member of Flinders Quartet

Gian Slater

Prolific Australian Vocalist and Composer, Gian Slater is known for her agile and pure voice, virtuosic improvisations and inventive compositions.  

Sonya Lifschitz

Praised by the New York Times and The Age for her “dynamic” and “powerful” performances, and by the Woodstock Times for her “miraculous keyboard technique and musicianship”, Ukrainian-born pianist Sonya Lifschitz is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most innovative, fearless and fiercely creative musical voices.