Mandala grew out of the voice and composition workshops I run every year on the island of Skyros in Greece, and at the Esalen Institute in California. Looking to create music that was a bridge between classical and pop, I based my approach on the concept of a mantra (a ‘round’ song) and on improvisation. The spirit of these centres inspired me to look at the practice of music as a form of meditation and to experiment with more natural ways of using the singing voice. A Mandala is a round painting created by Tibetan monks as a form of active meditation. Traditionally a Mandala, made with different coloured sands, is carefully constructed and then poured into the river as a symbol of impermanence.

 

Synopsis

 

Mandala takes the form of improvisations* and sets of songs. The words draw their inspiration from nature and relationships. Spirit of the Valley comes from Lao Tzu, and a Sheela-na-gig is a fertility symbol carved in the stone of churches and monasteries around the UK. The performance is intended to have a trance-like flow, so it is suggested that applause is saved until the end.

 

1.

Zen Meditation*

5. Definition Meditation* 9. Deep Blue Sea Meditation*
2. Rivers are flowing 6. Freedom Chant 10. Sheela-na-Gig
3. Spirit of the Valley 7. My Heart 11. My Art is a Song
4. Time is changing 8. The Moon is Bright 12. Rainbow Meditation*

Susie Self (voice & guitar) & Michael Christie (cello)


 


Susie Self studied composition and voice at the Royal College of Music and then with John Cage. She sings regularly as a soloist at the Strasbourg, Antwerp and Salzburg Opera. Her first opera was composed for the Royal Opera House’s “Garden Venture”, with encouragement from Michael Finnissy. Next her opera Heroic Women was featured on Radio 3 and Woman’s Hour, and performed in Taiwan, California and Mexico. Her symphonies have been recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic and choral works “Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis” and “Baba Yaga” were commissioned by the Arts Council. Other chamber works include “Parallel Universes” for Sounds Positive and “EIS” for youth orchestra, commissioned by the city of Vienna. Future projects are a choral work for the Presteigne Festival and her Third Symphony, “The Pacific”. Susie runs workshops for Dartington (Devon), Skyros (Greece), Esalen (California) and the Junior Guildhall, and co-directs Selfmade Music with Michael Christie.


 


Michael Christie studied ‘cello, composition and piano at the Royal College of Music, where he won the Bliss Prize. As a freelance ’cellist he worked with various orchestras in the UK, including shows in the West End. His music theatre work with ensembles such as the Lindsay Kemp Company took him on tours to Spain, Italy, Venezuela and the Shetland Islands. In 1989 he was commissioned by the Royal Opera House “Garden Venture” to write a chamber opera (“The Standard Bearer”), which was performed at the Donmar Warehouse. He wrote a number of music theatre pieces for Dartington Summer Music and also for the company which he co-founded with Susannah Self, Selfmade Music Theatre, with whom he has toured in Spain, Syria, Taiwan, Mexico, California and throughout the UK. As a professional educator he has specialised in teaching ‘cello, recorder, composition and creative class music. Currently he is a peripatetic instrumental tutor in a number of schools in North London, and a professor of composition and musical awareness at the Junior Guildhall.


 


Selfmade Music was started by Susie Self and Michael Christie in 1991 as an independent artist-led arts organization, and develops new music theatre productions, concerts and other events, as well as vocal courses and composition projects. They fund themselves through exhibitions of artwork produced by Susie Self. For more details see