Steven Isserlis rang me up one day and said how much he loved my music, but also loved the music of the Russian Orthodox Church. Would I write him something. This brief conversation immediately inspired me to compose The Protecting Veil, in fact I remember going straight to the piano and playing the opening few bars. I had always thought that unless music was singable in one way or another, then it was not truly music.
Steven’s cello playing has all the natural beauty of the human voice, and at the same time a wonderful effulgence of the feminine. I have written numerous works for him, or inspired by him.
I had begun Mary of Egypt, and had heard of Patricia Rozario, who was both a singer and Indian. The fact that she was Indian greatly interested me, because I needed a voice for St Mary that could naturally sing Eastern microtones. Patricia came and sang Mozart and Schubert. I then put some of Mary of Egypt in front of her and explained about the Eastern inflections: the result was stunning. Here was this Western trained singer who had a naturally rich Indian character to her voice. I wrote Mary of Egypt for her and almost everything else that I wrote for soprano for the next twenty years.
Patricia singing To a Child Dancing in the Wind:
Patricia singing Akhmatova Songs: