A Musical Zodiac (Tonight)
A Musical Zodiac, composed and conducted by Debbie Wiseman
(with sleeve notes by Jonathan Cainer). Launched September 16.
A crab yearns for the moon, a seamstress stitches in a pool of sunlight, twins play — Debbie Wiseman’s musical character sketches of the signs of the Zodiac are powerful, delicate, acute. From the weaving complexity of Gemini evoked by violin and cello to the heat and power of Leo the Lion, from the shimmering otherworldliness of the Fishes to the civilised balance of Libra, Wiseman creates a Zodiac of sound.
Wiseman was commissioned last autumn to write a 12-part suite by Classic FM, where she is currently composer in residence. As she explained to me this morning, it was her Gemini friend — the cellist in the pieces you will hear — who first put the idea of the Zodiac in her head. But as soon as he suggested it, she saw it could work beautifully.
Wiseman (MBE) is arguably Britain’s top female composer for the screen. She has won a wagon-load of awards. Some of her music is bound to be familiar to you. She wrote the exceptionally haunting themes for Wolf Hall and The Passion on TV, and music for the films Wilde and Tom and Viv to name a few. So because she was used to thinking in pictures and stories, she made up her own story for each sign. Over the coming year, she will be telling her stories on Charlotte Green’s show on Classic FM.
She spoke to me this morning about The Musical Zodiac. I will be writing up the full and fascinating interview over the weekend. Her process is really interesting. It should be published in time for the launch of The Musical Zodiac on September 16, when we can all rush out and buy the album (or just sit quietly at home and download it.) I would be interested to hear your responses to the music.
But tonight you can hear the first airing of The Zodiac on Classic FM at 8pm BST.
PS As I was interviewing her, Jupiter moved into Libra, the sign of high culture!