A recording of Sarah's recent online presentation
London-based composer, performer and electronic artist Sarah Angliss aims to make music that gets under the skin. She performs live and creates music for film, theatre and the concert stage.
Sarah’s highly inventive work reflects an eclectic musical background. A classically-trained composer and instrumentalist who specialised early on in baroque and renaissance music, Sarah cut her teeth performing on the UK folk scene. She also has a background in electroacoustics and biologically-inspired robotics. Sarah combines these disciplines to create finely-wrought music, hard to classify, where acoustic instruments are augmented by her bespoke electronics, Max and musical automata. The Ealing Feeder, for example, is a robotic polyphonic carillon she’s built to play at inhuman speeds, creating sound with an uncanny physical presence as it’s conjured by a machine on stage. Angliss mixes her robotics seamlessly with notated music, live electronics and bespoke patches devised in Max, a compositional tool she uses extensively.
Thematically, Sarah is inspired by the meeting point of machines and mysticism and to contemporary expressions of ancient folklore in the city. This was the subject of Ealing Feeder (2017), an album steeped in the sounds of sirens, wrestling rings, the Thames and the London tree canopy. A transfiguration myth in the ancient song ‘The Two Magicians’ is reimagined in a masked wrestling club in Bethnal Green and the drowning myth ‘The Cruel Sister’ – in which a woman’s body is used to make a violin that speaks – is set around a sluice gate leading to the Thames today. The twin tracks ‘Raven (Thought and Memory)’ in her follow-up album Air Loom (2019) reimagine wireless networking by drawing on Norse mythology: myths of gods and their messengers reading the thoughts of all men and women as they traverse the world in invisible ships.
A prolific live performer, Sarah plays regularly at live at venues and festivals championing new music including The Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, Cafe Oto, Kings’ Place, LSO St Luke’s, The Union Chapel, Camden Arts Centre and BBC Radio Theatre, London; National Sawdust, Brooklyn; The Wales Millennium Centre; Cardiff; BBC Halls, Swansea; Centre for Contemporary Arts and Glad Cafe, Glasgow; Supersonic Festival, Birmingham; Supernormal, Oxfordshire; The Arnolfini, The Cube and Spike Island, Bristol; Star and Shadow Newcastle; Golden Lion, Todmorden; Elektriteater, Tartu, and many others.
Sarah also applies her unusual sonic techniques to film and theatre and has been commissioned for the main stages of The Old Vic, The Young Vic, National Theatre and The Almedia. Her underscore for The Hairy Ape, Eugene O’Neill’s expressionist play from 1926 about the shock of modernity played in The Old Vic, London, and Park Avenue Armory, New York (directed by Richard Jones). Sarah has also created and performed live film scores for the BFI seasons Gothic – the Dark Heart of Film and Sci-Fi Days of Fear and Wonder. In 2019, she composed a vocal, instrumental and electroacoustic score for Amulet, a contained horror set in London. Written and directed by Romola Garai, Amulet was selected for Sundance 2020.
In November 2018, Sarah received a Composer’s Award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation – three years of open-ended funding that’s enabling her to continue experimenting alongside assorted commissions. She’s currently composing Giant, an electroacoustic chamber opera exploring the chilling betrayal of Charles Byrne (librettist Ross Sutherland; director and dramaturg Sarah Fahie). Giant is supported by Snape Music and funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. In 2021, she’ll be embarking on Buying the Wind – a timely collaboration with poet Hannah Lowe (funded by PRS Foundation for Music), exploring the wind and tide that have brought people, ideas, artefacts, fears, dreams and so much more to the UK, thanks to our elemental and defiantly porous border.