Simple Harmonic Motion

Last year Emma was invited to record five songs with the symphonic rock band Simple Harmonic Motion.  On 21st and 22nd February, she will join them to present their new album ‘Fantasia’ in the Netherlands and France.

Here is their press release:

Total immersion in lights and sound. That is the approach of progressive rock band ‘Simple Harmonic Motion.’ Together with Leiden mezzo-soprano Emma Brown, the British band will visit Leiden to present their latest album “Fantasia” in a free concert here in our very own Hooglandse Kerk. Their stunning music is accompanied by bespoke projections in the medieval high choir.

‘Simple Harmonic Motion’ have performed in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. Led by Jonathan Beckitt, they have an fresh and innovative approach to music. Their latest album “Fantasia” shows their respectful covers of well-known classical music. It includes folk songs, the Bach-Gounod ‘Ave Maria,’ the ‘Sanctus’ from Fauré’s Requiem, and Albinoni’s ‘Adagio.’

Their previous albums have been equally innovative. In “Tone Poems” they explored the poetry of John Keats, based on Greek mythology, as is depicted magnificently in the accompanying projections. In this album, guitarist Curtis E Johnson really shines, showing his creative use of the harmonic textures of distortion and feedback.

Unusually, the band began as a studio project. They wanted to record high-quality, original music, as can be heard on their album “Interludes.” The success of this album inspired them to perform live. The bespoke projections fit ‘hand in glove’ with the music. A backing track helps the musicians stay synchronized with the animations, and still allows them to play and sing relatively freely.

It is challenging to classify the band. Between them, the musicians have experience in many different genres. Emma is well-known here in the Netherlands as a classical singer: she is the most recent member of the band, joining them in 2018 for “Fantasia.” Meanwhile, bass-player Steve Kershaw regularly performs with jazz bands in the UK, Europe, and Russia. Drummer Gerry O’Riordan has performed in many different genres and works as a sound engineer in London. Guitarist Curtis E Johnson has recorded solo albums as a rock vocalist. Composer, arranger, keyboard player and flautist Jonathan Beckitt draws on all their respective talents. Simple Harmonic Motion has been labelled as a ‘progressive rock band,’ a ‘symphonic rock band’ and also as ‘minimalist,’ ‘ambient,’ and ‘new age contemporary classical music.’ In short, they are the band where genres meet.

Friday, 21st February, 20:30, Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden, the Netherlands
Saturday, 22nd February, 20:00, Cathedral of Our Lady, Amiens, France

2020-02-12T13:28:31+02:00February 15th, 2020|

Remembrance on the Western Front

On 15th and 16th February Emma will be singing for a private group during First World War remembrance ceremonies at various locations on the Western Front in Northern France.

2020-02-12T13:25:53+02:00February 13th, 2020|

O Nata Lux

Emma’s composition ‘O Nata Lux’ has recently been published by Edition HH. This six-part a capella motet uses a tenth-century text for the Feast of Transfiguation. However, it is suitable throughout the liturgical year.

For more information and to purchase the motet, please visit Edition HH.

2020-02-12T13:29:20+02:00February 12th, 2020|

New Year’s Concert in Thorn, the Netherlands

Emma is delighted to be joining the Reünie-Orkest Limburgse Jagers and conductor Jos Stoffels for their traditional New Year’s Concert in Thorn, Limburg, the Netherlands.

The orchestra was formed in 1992 from members and former-members of the military orchestra of Regiment Limburgse Jagers (the Limburg Light Infantry from the Royal Netherlands Army). Since the Fanfare Corps was dissolved, the Reünie-Orkest Limburgse Jagers has represented the regiment at official events both in the Netherlands and abroad, as well as representing the province of Limburg.

Emma first sang with the orchestra last year during the celebrations of seventy-five years of liberation in Venray.

The concert on Sunday, 19th January, takes place in Thorn, a picturesque town famous as the home of the princesses of the Holy Roman Empire. The programme includes music from the Second World War, ‘The Holy City’ and ‘Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten.’

Sunday, 19th January, 14:00, Zaal Aod Thoear, Thorn, the Netherlands

Tickets are available at the door or via the email address or telephone number on the poster.

2020-01-17T20:49:19+02:00January 17th, 2020|

Looking Back on 2019

It’s been a wonderful year for Emma, singing in many different countries including Nepal, Hungary, and Vietnam for both charitable and commercial causes, recording under the record label Floating World Records, and gradually publishing her compositions with Edition HH.

With HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at CWGC Bayeux Cemetery, 6th June, 2019.

Emma sang for veterans in the presence of HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on 6th June in Bayeux, France, following the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day landings. Later in the year, she sang in the presence of HRH Princess Margriet and her husband Prof. Pieter van Vollenhoven at the Air Borne commemorations in Arnhem, the Netherlands. It was lovely to see the respect shown to the veterans by both members of the public and by the royal guests. Emma was also honoured to be invited to sing for the US Mission to the EU’s Independence Day celebration in Brussels, Belgium, which various dignitaries including Jared Kushner attended.

Emma continues to sing for veterans and for remembrance ceremonies. She sang for Gurkha veterans and their families at the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Pokhara, Nepal. Back in Europe, Emma sang for D-Day and Operation Market Garden commemorations, as well as for the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s veterans reunion in Portsmouth and at their fundraising dinner on HMS Victory. She also sang in Venray, the Netherlands, for their celebration of seventy-five years of liberation, and at the First World War commemorations in Arras and the Somme.

On this theme, together with pianist Han-Louis Meijer, Emma released her first solo CD. “Echoes of War” presents music from and about the First and Second World Wars. It includes songs which were popular songs during both wars, such as those made famous by Vera Lynn, songs by classical composers such as Ravel, Poulenc, and Butterworth, love songs, patriotic songs, and retrospective songs. The CD is available at Floating World Records and various online stores and music-streaming systems.

Design: Joe Montgomery

Emma’s next recording, also on Floating World Records, is with the progressive rock band “Simple Harmonic Motion.” “Fantasia” is due to be released in Febuary 2020. It includes sensitive and moving covers of classical music, including the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria,” the Sanctus from Fauré’s Requiem, and various English folk melodies. Simple Harmonic Motion have a fascinating approach to performance: as well as using a mixture of live playing and synthesised backing tracks, they immense the audience in powerful light projections. For a taste of their work, please see the video below.

Another wonderful collaboration has been with Hungarian guitarist Robert Sinha. Robert and Emma worked together on a programme of music from the commemorations of the Dutch Admiral De Ruyter in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam last February. In September, they toured Budapest and Cegled, Hungary, with a programme of English music from Dowland to Sting. There are plans for further tours in 2020 and 2021. Below is a video of their work.

Emma also sang for a very wonderful children’s organisation, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, which has helped over a million children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The foundation was established thirty years ago by Christina Noble OBE, who was forced to live on the streets of Dublin as a teenager, and today helps children avoid the same horrendous circumstances. After singing a fundraising concert in Westport, Ireland, Emma was invited to sing at the foundation’s thirty-year anniversary gala in Ho Chi Minh city. Please do take some time to read about Christina’s life and work, for example in her autobiographies “Bridge Across My Sorrows” and “Mama Tina,” and consider donating to the foundation here.

Emma’s compositions are being published by Edition HH. Her motet “O Lux Beata Trinitas” was sung in Bath Abbey, Nottingham Cathedral, and St Thomas, Mellor, Stockport, all in the UK, as well as in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, in her home town of Leiden, the Netherlands, Emma was commissioned to write music for the carillon (city bells) for the city’s annual 3rd October liberation festival. Her composition “Leidse Gedenck Klokken” will be published by Edition Pors, a publisher specialising in music for carillons.

And on that note, here is a Christmas carol which was published last November and is available here.

Next year already has some interesting concerts, including singing in Ulaanbaatar for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, at remembrance ceremonies in France and the Netherlands, and at the Hay on Wye Second World War commemorations.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all the musicians, organisers, and members of the public who have supported Emma over the last years. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

2019-12-19T11:21:03+02:00December 22nd, 2019|

Composition Première: “Mater Pulchra”

Composition Première: “Mater Pulchra”

On Sunday, 22nd December, Emma’s new composition “Mater Pulchra” (‘Beautiful’ or ‘Noble’ Mother) will be premiered by the Leidse Cantorij and conductor Hans Brons during their Advent Concert in the Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden. Inspired by John 1: 5 and the work of Christina Noble OBE, this a cappella piece calls upon us to let our light shine out through darkness.

Sunday, 22nd December, 20:15, Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden, the Netherlands

Free entry: a collection is taken after the concert

2019-12-19T10:48:48+02:00December 16th, 2019|

Christmas at the Dutch Veterans’ Institute

The Veterans’ Institute in Doorn, the Netherlands, supports and assists Dutch war veterans, functions as a knowledge and research centre for all subjects related to veterans, and works closely with the Dutch Ministry of Defense on issues related to veterans.

Emma is delighted to be returning for a forth year to sing in the Veterans’ Institute’s annual Christmas concert. She will join the Band of Liberation and conductor Simon Dubbelaar for a festive concert.

As well as traditional Christmas repertoire, the programme includes songs from the Second World War to mark next year’s celebrations of seventy-five years of liberation in Europe. There will be some fantastic arrangements by Pipe Major Hans Dubbelaar, as well as Rob Richardson’s setting of the rousing Welsh hymn “Calon Lân,” and Graham Atterbury’s arrangement of “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” which he made especially for Emma for the Hay on Wye First World War centenary commemorations in 2018.

It will be a beautiful mixture of Christmas, nostalgia, and hope, a fitting concert for Dutch veterans who gave so much for us.

Sunday, 15th December, Veterans Institute, Doorn, the Netherlands (by invitation)

2019-12-09T13:31:32+02:00December 13th, 2019|

A Fanfare Christmas

On Saturday, 14th December, Emma will join Harmonie Slikkerveer and conductor Jurgen Nab for a Christmas concert. They will perform a range of Christmas music, including traditional British Christmas carols.

The programme begins with “Once in Royal David’s City,” a tribute to King’s College Cambridge and the late Sir Stephen Cleobury. Carols from King’s is a century-old tradition, broadcast on BBC radio and more recently on television. During her studies at Cambridge, Emma attended the recording of the television broadcast in 2003 and remembers fondly dinners with Dr Cleobury and the choir.

In addition, the programme includes well-known English carols such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!,” “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” as well as the beautiful old Dutch carol “Nu syt welle kome.”

Emma arranged “Ave Maria” – allegedly by Caccini but actually by the Russian composer Vladimir Vavilov – especially for the concert: her first arrangement for Fanfare Orchestra.

There are also compositions and arrangements by Philip Sparke, Harrie Janssen, and from the Salvation Army carol books.

It promises to be a wonderful, festive evening.

For more information (in Dutch), please follow this link.

Saturday, 14th December, Sint Joris Kerk, Ridderkerk, the Netherlands

2019-12-09T13:20:59+02:00December 9th, 2019|

Wereld Lichtjes Dag – Worldwide Candle-lighting Day

On 8th December, across the globe, candles will be lit in vigils to remember children, infants, babies, and unborn babies who died too young, and to show solidarity with those who grieve.

Emma will sing during an intimate, inclusive ceremony in her home town, led by Leta Janssen.

Sunday, 8th December, 18:30 (doors open 18:15), Leiden City Hall’s “Burgerzaal,” Leiden, the Netherlands

Free entry: please contact wereldlichtjesdagleiden@gmail.com

2019-12-06T09:22:16+02:00December 3rd, 2019|

Sweet was the Song

Emma’s composition “Sweet was the Song the Virgin Sung” is now available through Edition HH:

http://www.editionhh.co.uk/shop/item.aspx?itemid=780

This simple and captivating four-part (SATB) setting should be suitable for choirs of most levels.

“Emma Brown’s setting of ‘Sweet was the Song’, simple yet utterly compelling, captures the Renaissance character of the text while imparting a fresh, modern twist. Suitable for choirs both professional and amateur, it would make a beautiful addition to a Christmas concert or carol service, as well as providing a touching moment of spiritual reflection during Midnight Mass.”

-Per Hartmann

Text: William Ballet‘s Lute Book in Library of Trinity College, Dublin, c.1600

With thanks to the Leidse Cantorij, Leiden, the Netherlands and their director of music Hans Brons for this beautiful recording.

2019-11-29T14:29:18+02:00November 29th, 2019|