Emily Thorner and United Strings of Europe (trio)


Dobrinka Tabakova – Insight
David Ford – New Work (w.p.) 
Lisa Streich – Falter
Betsy Jolas – Quator II


The main objective of this work is to show the unity which exists within the string trio. I was most fascinated to explore string techniques transforming the trio sound to one of a completely different instrument. At the very beginning there is a suggestion of an accordion sound and later of a brass fanfare. The piece is in three inter-linking sections: reflective – lively – stretto of the main musical ideas. The title is a reminder that aiming to visualise sound is one of the most satisfying experiences our imagination can give us through music.

– Dobrinka Tabakova


Quator II

Quatour II (1964) which has today its premiere in Scotland, is a quartet “with voice” similarly conceived to eighteenth century quartets with flutes or oboes: three instruments of the same family associated with a fundamentally different instrument. This fact in no way implies that the voice is called upon to evoke another instrument other than it itself, but only that it assumes “instrumental functions.” The soprano is charged with the upper part of the quartet and acts as a first violin. In the absence of text, the indispensable vocal articulation is created by a flexible set of phonemes acting most often like bow or tongue strokes. Their basic sounds generally involve French pronunciation and spelling. However, in order to avoid any meaningful association in any language, these phonemes have undergone constant variations of form and color. While it becomes “nonsense French”- the one exception is the final word which is in French and pronounced in French which translates to “point” to indicate a final ending and close. 


 At its world premiere, the work was well received: “A single movement of fifteen minutes of a music both concentrated and airy, expressive, lyrical, sometimes tender, but never artificial…” (Maurice Flauret). In 1976, the American painter Joan Mitchell dedicated her painting Quatuor II to Betsy Jolas. 


 From Emily: I remember singing this piece in 2018 in the States and realizing this was a life long piece to master and understand (still ongoing!) It was this same year after first performing it that I went to visit Betsy Jolas in her home in Paris, which has a core memory of her pouring juice in her home for and sharing the intricacies of her wishes for this piece and the history of it. She described certain parts as purposefully written to be “near impossible” (page 10 is an iconic example) for soprano voice to sing and shared as well that her original trio nearly quit due to difficulty. The piece also only rarely is in metered time and much of it requires you to know and breathe with the pacing of the others around you… which poses an incredible for close collaboration. Betsy Jolas is 97 today, and truly deserves to have her music much more widely known worldwide. It was in this meeting with Betsy in 2018 that I shared my dedication and personal desire to perform it again with a trio able to perform it to the level she wishes, with the promise that I would take this piece on, ongoing, to best champion it and support her work. It took 5 years, one failed attempt in Austria, and finally, we have achieved this today with USE at “The Night With…” Festival. 


I Said – Nora Marazaite 

Any live solo performance places both auditory and isvisual focus on the performers onstage. In a way, it’s almost liek the perfomer is deliverying a monologue…

Artist biographies

International “ultra-soprano” (Second Inversion, WA, USA) and “new music rising star” (The Stranger, WA, USA) Emily Thorner is one of the highest operatic voices worldwide and is equally at home in contemporary operas, mainstream opera, orchestras, and chamber ensembles. Invited to sing for the worlds elite including Heads of State, royalty, and the top global leaders on the mission of social impact and sustainability, she sings for a greater purpose: to raise the frequency of humanity. Known for her command of stratospheric high notes, Ms. Thorner is highly sought-after for world premieres due to her unusual high range and fearless virtuosity. She made her Netherlands debut at Muziekgebouw and TivoliVredenberg at the Gaudeamus Festival this September 2023 as the solo soprano with Asko|Schönberg, singing “Uma só divina Linha” by Jan Van de Putte which was be on NPO radio, and was the only featured opera singer at the CC Forum Dubai.Invited to relocate to London on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, Ms. Thorner was the leading Soprano in Hotel Paradiso, a contemporary opera conducted by Clement Power in Bolzano Italy, gave the world premiere of Crossing Songs by Laura Shipsey written for her voice and containing a rare Ab6 in the Aldeburgh Festival this June 2022, and was a winner of the NYIOPS international anon auditions, being the only vocalist to present contemporary opera. Upcoming performances in 2023 and 2024 lead her to Scotland in a collaboration with the United Strings of Europe where she will sing the World Premiere of “Emptiness” written for her voice by Matthew Whiteside and Quatuor ii by Betsy Jolas at “The Night With” Festival. 2024 brings her to California for STATE OF BEING and an evening of world premieres. 2023 in total brings her to Amsterdam, Milan, Dubai, and Scotland for performances.
Dedicated to the belief that the power of sound and vibration can heal, and that the end of Climate Change begins with us, Ms. Thorner is passionate about singing with the purpose of healing through the voice on the global stage, and is dedicated to bringing this purpose, extraordinary high notes, and fearless passion to every stage. She is the inventor and founder of www.moonrising.com, a sound powered healing platform.Her discography includes The Miller in Rumpelstiltskin with Guerilla Opera on PARMA Records and Off Latch Press with three albums on Spotify, Apple Music, Itunes, and Deezer.Originally from Boston, MA, USA, she now resides in London and travels frequently all over EU and UK and is under representation by HOST TALENT GROUP.Range: G3-A6 (and an occasional Bb6)

The united strings of europe
is shaped by a multi-cultural background and a drive to develop experimental and engaging programming.
Our guiding principle is very much about finding threads between different works and epochs, blending the familiar with the new, and hopefully delivering exciting and moving performances that encourage people to listen to works in different ways and to discover new repertoire.

Praised for our original programming and virtuosically expressive playing ( the times), we commission and arrange music from a variety of musical cultures and backgrounds, and perform regularly in europe and the middle east. Our recordings for bis records have been celebrated for their compelling programmes (bbc music magazine) and for being supremely executed (stereophile magazine).

To date we have released three full-length albums. Our album ‘renewal’ (january 2022) explores themes of loss and transformation with soprano ruby hughes, and was editor’s choice at presto music and one of apple music’s 10 albums you must hear in february. Our debut album in motion has been described as superbly played and vividly engineered’ (gramophone magazine). In november 2022 we released our latest album tchaikovsky which was bbc music magazines orchestral choice in february 2023.

We are continually seeking ways to re-imagine string playing and the concert experience. Our inter-disciplinary projects inspire us to move beyond our training, to stretch our thinking, and to find new ways to engage and enthral.
Our lockdown film ‘send back the echo’, a commission from composer jasmin kent rodgman featuring deaf actor vilma jackson, explores issues around disability and social alienation. It premiered on bbc arts and was selected for the london short film festival. In 2022 we produced a ground-breaking show ‘apollo resurrected’ combining music, mime, dance and juggling. A retelling of stravinskys ‘apollo’ with new music by joanna marsh, the show premiered at kings place on 28 october followed by a performance at northern ballet in leeds.

We believe in the power of music that connects, bridges divides and promotes cross-cultural understanding.
2022 saw us give our debut performances at wiltons music hall in london and the victoria hall in geneva, open the byline festival and festival on the close, and hold residencies at the southrepps music festival and hatfield house chamber music festival. We joined forces with sansara choir and syrian oud player basel saleh for a concert of sanctuary and solidarity at st martin-in-the-fields featuring music by caroline shaw, hildur gunadottir, buxtehude, a new commission by lebanese composer houtaf khoury, and the uk premiere of ‘a quiet night by ukrainian composer natalia tsupryk.

We are passionate about reaching new audiences, and engaging with different communities in the uk, across europe and the middle east.
Armed with the belief that music and ensemble playing can enrich peoples lives and promote cross-cultural understanding, we are committed to reaching new audiences through education work and initiatives that engage refugees and marginalised groups. We also seek ways to explore issues relevant to these communities through our artistic work.

Marie Schreer, violin
Christine Anderson, viola
Louise McMonagle, cello

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