Stevie Wishart was educated at York, Oxford and the Guildhall School of Music and is active as a composer, performer and improviser. She explores medieval and contemporary extremes, using ancient technologies such as the hurdy gurdy, as well as electronic and computer music technologies of our own time.
She studied composition and electronic music at the University of York with Trevor Wishart and Richard Orton as well as coming into contact with improvised and aleatoric music through studying with John Cage and David Tudor in Edinburgh. By contrast she continued postgraduate performance studies in early music (baroque violin and voice) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (Diploma in Advanced Performance) and with a Nuffield Foundation award and a Vicente Cañada Blanch Junior Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford for doctoral research into medieval musical iconography. More recently she received a major Wellcome Trust award to develop her compositions using musical gestures and sound to control how we use computers, and to work with the neuroscientist Ian Winter at the University of Cambridge on audio processes based on the physiology of the ear.
She has composed for modern orchestral and vocal groups and, more recently, for her own group Sinfonye. As a composer she works purely acoustically with music notation, sometimes combined with improvisation, sometimes using computer music systems, and sometimes using all these elements.
Wishart has performed at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Purcell Room, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the ICA and the Sydney Opera House, and extensively throughout Europe, the USA, and Australia. Her concerts have been broadcast by BBC Radio 3, Radio France, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF, German Radio Networks, and Klara Radio Belgium VRT. Performances and composing commissions at major festivals include those for the Festival van Vlaanderen and Styriarte, and she played a major role in ‘Take the Risk’, a special weekend at London’s Southbank exploring improvisation in early music, in which was a performance of her composition “Transients” for voices and medieval and modern instruments. Stevie has also performed her compositions for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in Rome and for RAI tv.
Invited for a number of composer residences and fellowships, she has presented her work at IRCAM in Paris; the Institute for Music and Acoustics in the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie) in Karlsruhe, Germany; the ADK Akademie der Künste in Berlin, and Mills College in California.
Stevie’s ‘The Sound of Gesture’, a project developing an interface with specially commissioned sensors and software for solo violin and computer, was developed at ZKM and ADK with support from the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Physiology & Neuroscience, University of Cambridge. The Sound of Gesture was recorded at ZKM for release on cd/dvd in 2010.
The Sound of Gesture was also conceived as an installation piece, and was been commissioned for the exhibition Musik für Barbaren und Klassiker, Netwerk Center for Contemporary Art, Aalst, Belgium. This followed on from a series of installations Wishart has produced on the visualisation of music with the artist Joan Grounds at the Arts Gallery of NSW, Sydney; with Machine for Making Sense at the Sydney Opera House; and at CACSA Contemporary Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Also a composer for dance, Wishart has written for Margie Medlin, Compagnie Michèle Noiret and Wayne McGregor. She has worked with other major creative artists such as designer Philippe Starck.
Other contemporary music recordings include those with Fred Frith, the Art Zoyd Studio, and Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles and others. Most recently she composed a new Vespers in honour of the canonisation of Hildegard of Bingen, co-produced with Guy Sigsworth for Decca.
Extra activities have included an education project for the Britten Sinfonia, music consultant to the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is currently the European Music Correspondent for the ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She has been on the panel of judges for the MA Festival in Bruges, and for the York Early Music Festival, and has featured on a number of radio programmes for the BBC as well as guest television commentator for BBC PROMS.
Stevie Wishart was commissioned by the BBC for the 2011 Proms to write a major choral work entitled “Out of this World” which was premiered by the BBC Singers conducted by Robert Hollingworth : “… surely among the finest of this year’s new [BBC] commissions …” (TheArtsDesk 2011)
Following her recent CD release for Decca, she composing a full-length concert version of her Vespers for St.Hildegard for choir and instrumental ensemble which was premiered in York Minster at the 2013 York Early Music Festival.
Stevie Wishart is currently working on a number of projects reflecting a passion for finding compositional inspiration in political and environmental issues.
Werner Dafeldecker / Christof Kurzmann / John Tilbury / Stevie Wishart (mikroton cd 4)