Cheryl Frances-Hoad

Composer

  • BORN 1980, Southend-on-Sea, UK
  • WORKED Opera North, University of Leeds, Cambridge University Department of Psychiatry, Rambert Dance. 

Scientific Connections

Frances invited me to be part of the Rosalind Franklin inspired project.

Compositions

Title: Photo 51
Scientist: PROFESSOR ELIZABETH KUPIERS
Words from: Rosalind Franklin
Written in: 2015
For: Vocal Quartet
Commissioned by: Electric Voice Theatre
Performed by: Electric Voice Theatre

This piece sets the first two sentences of a paper by Wilkins, Stokes and Wilson published in Nature in 1953.

“While the biological properties of Deoxyribonucleic acid suggest a molecular structure containing great complexity, X-ray diffractions studies described here show the basic molecular configuration has great simplicity”.

The contrary motion in the vocal parts is inspired by the image of Photo 51 – with the dots (indicating the double helix) going out in opposite directions, in 4 part symmetry.

SOUND FILE COMING SOON!
Title: Rosy of Course 
Scientist: PROFESSOR ELIZABETH KUPIERS
Words by: Rosalind Franklin
Written in: 2015
For: Vocal Duet
Commissioned by: Electric Voice Theatre
Performed by: Electric Voice Theatre

This piece sets texts from Watson and Crick’s The Double Helix (1968) and an article in Nature in 1953, also by the pair. The first lines “Rosy of course did not directly give us her data. For that matter no one at Kings realised they were in our hands” describes Watson and Crick’s underhand acquiring of Rosalind’s data, and the second section sets an excerpt from the article in which they published ‘their’ discoveries about DNA, which of course made no mention of Rosalind’s work. The work is written for countertenor and tenor, in the characters of Watson and Crick.

SOUND FILE COMING SOON!
Title:  Rosalind Fixed Her Steady Eyes Like X-Rays
Scientist: PROFESSOR ELIZABETH KUPIERS
Words by: Rosalind Franklin
Written in: 2015
For: Vocal Quartet
Commissioned by: Electric Voice Theatre
Performed by: Electric Voice Theatre

Drawing on Franklin’s biography for inspiration, this piece takes its text from Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox. “Rosalind fixed her steady eyes like X-rays on the human specimen before her” is a quote from the book that describes what Rosalind was like in conversation. The quarter tone glissandi, glottal vibrato and quartet tone vibrato in this piece are inspired by the X-rays that Rosalind employed in the taking of Photo 51.

SOUND FILE COMING SOON!
Title:  The Instant I Saw The Picture
Scientist: PROFESSOR ELIZABETH KUPIERS
Words by: Rosalind Franklin
Written in: 2015
For: Vocal Quartet
Commissioned by: Electric Voice Theatre
Performed by: Electric Voice Theatre

This piece sets a quote from James Watson, detailing his reaction to first seeing Photo 51 (“The instant I saw the picture, my mouth feel open and my pulse began to race’). Musically it takes inspiration from Barber Shop quartets, due to the fact there were four singers, and because it approximated the musical styles of the time that Rosalind would have been working.

Glissandi are still ever present in this piece: I imagine them to function almost like a lens adjusting, with the resulting sharpening of an image.

SOUND FILE COMING SOON!
Title:  Something More Than Mortal
Scientist: ADA LOVELACE
Words by: Ada Lovelace
Written in: 2016
For: Solo Soprano

Something More than Mortal sets extracts of the letters of Ada Lovelace. It was written for  Frances M Lynch  for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 as part of an award winning show,  “Superwomen of Science” and first performed by her at The Book Club, Shoreditch, London, August 1st 2016.

Education

I was born in Essex in 1980 and received my musical education at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the University of Cambridge (where I was awarded a double 1st for my BA in Music and a distinction for my MPhil in Composition) and Kings College London (PhD, Composition).

Occupations

So boring – I’ve been a self employed composer, composition supervisor (at Cambridge University) and a self employed piano teacher.

I’ve also worked as DARE Fellow in the Operatic Arts at Opera North and University of Leeds, at the Cambridge University Department of Psychiatry as a Leverhulme Artist in Residence, and as Musician in Residence at Rambert Dance in London

Musical Highlights

The highlight of my career is coming up – a 30 minute work for Marcus Farnsworth (Baritone) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on 30th November 2018, as part of the Armistice commemorations. The piece sets a new text by librettist Tamsin Collison.

Did You Know?

I am excellent at growing vegetables!

An Inspiring Woman

Judith Weir has inspired me – although I had been composing for several years before I heard her music, when I did it confirmed to me that this was a career I could defintely pursue

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