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.
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
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.
Prolific Australian Vocalist and Composer, Gian Slater is known for her agile and pure voice, virtuosic improvisations and inventive compositions.
“This is a fascinating recording. Gian, Sonya and Zoe have combined their imaginations to perform and produce a unique addition to the world of vocal music. Gian Slater has the unusual ability to sing with a basically untempered scale even when she sings with piano, which, by definition, forces the use of the tempered scale. On this recording, Gian uses her talent, ear and heart to ever so slightly ‘brighten’ or ‘darken’ specific intervals. This ability as well as adapting to the restraints on intonation when working with the piano, is truly amazing.”
— Dobbs Franks, Music Trust e-zine Loud Mouth
- Stillborn ‘She isn’t, but she was’ Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Instrumental I Emily Hall
- And so I test myself Emily Hall Toby Litt
- I am the pregnant woman Emily Hall Toby Litt
- We are counting Emily Hall Toby Litt
- The very thought of children being hurt Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Instrumental II Emily Hall
- A ghostly home Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Instrumental III Amnio – ‘Skeleton I see and sense’ Emily Hall
- I am alone Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Hello Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Look at my child Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Upon your chest Emily Hall Toby Litt
- The gap so small Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Not just milk There used to be a woman in this body Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Hushabye Emily Hall Toby Litt
- The first turn Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Instrumental IV Emily Hall
- A field of snow I see you here, all clear and all aglow Emily Hall Toby Litt
- Zoë Knighton · cello · all except tracks 1 and 12
- Sonya Lifschitz · piano · all except tracks 4 and 11
- Gian Slater · vocal · all except tracks 2, 7, 9 and 18