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Magic Lantern Tales

November 2018, Champs Hill Records

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Magic Lantern Tales

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Star Falling

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Blurry Bagatelle

Cheryl Frances Hoad - A Song Incomplete

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Love Bytes

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Lament

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Invoke Now The Angels

Cheryl Frances Hoad - The Thought Machine

Cheryl Frances Hoad - Scenes from Autistic Bedtimes

Nicky Spence (tenor), Verity Wingate (soprano), Natalie Reybould (soprano), Sophie Daneman (soprano), 

Sinead O'Kelly (mezzo-soprano), Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), Collin Shay (counter-tenor), 

Philip Smith (baritone), Mark Stone (baritone), Beth Higham-Edwards (vibraphone), Anna Menzies (cello), 

Alisdair Hogarth (piano), Sholto Kynoch (piano), Edward Nieland (treble), George Jackson (conductor)


Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s music has been described as "like a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of composition" (The Sunday Times), with "a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them" (The Scotsman). Now published by Chester Music, she has been commissioned by BBC Proms, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Spitalfields Festival, and recently premiered a piano concerto. This is her fourth album for Champs Hill Records. 

"…I endlessly repeat words & phrases, trying to find the music in them: the exact pitches and rhythms needed to portray a particular emotion… I often only discover what the poem really says to me when I reach the final bar." Cheryl Frances-Hoad

The collection includes texts by Kei Miller, Tamsin Collison, Andrew Motion and Stuart Murray written especially for Cheryl, and preexisting ones by Kate Wakeling, Aristotle and Ian McMillan. It is from South Yorkshire poet and well-known radio voice Ian Macmillan’s cycle Magic Lantern Tales that the album takes its title, telling the stories of dementia sufferers. 

Performers include Nicky Spence and Sholto Kynoch, Sophie Daneman and Mark Stone (who get a special mention for playing egg shakers in The Thought Machine with texts by Kate Wakeling). Scenes from Autistic Bedtimes is a result of Cheryl’s time as a Cultural Fellow in Opera Related Arts.


"Do you sometimes wonder where all the song composers are these days? – then I have someone for you, namely the English composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, who writes real songs, and excellent ones at that. (...) the longer you listen to this beautifully crafted CD (…) the more you fall under its spell. Cheryl Frances-Hoad is already a well-regarded and busy composer in England, and it is high time she was discovered here [in Germany]."
Katharina Eickhoff, SWR2 Treffpunkt Klassik, 12/23/2018

"Setting poetry from Aristotle to Kate Wakeling, Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s songs are an absolute treasure-trove. Whether written for solo voice and piano, or for multiple voices and inventive instrumentation, her spare, concentrated, engaging music always offers something to intrigue the ear or touch the heart, usually both. Invoke the Angels pays tribute to Britten’s Canticles, with specially written words by Kei Miller. There are imaginative settings of Wakeling’s texts in The Thought Machine, a snappy commentary on cyber-dating in Love Bytes and the disc closes with a heart-shredding portrait of life with an autistic child in Autistic Bedtimes

The album is taken from the opening cycle on World War One poems by Ian McMillan, in which the composer follows a well-trodden English path, but with her own highly persuasive contemporary language. Tenor Nicky Spence’s singing in this cycle is outstanding, with diction paramount. Indeed, throughout the disc words and music are seamless partners, just as they should be, and the performers are splendidly attentive.” Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine

"My hero is Benjamin Britten.’ This affirmation comes in a discussion from 2011 between Cheryl Frances-Hoad and Andrew Palmer, and its musical consequences can be heard in Frances-Hoad’s Invoke now the Angels, written to mark the 2013 Britten centenary. She describes the piece as "a response to Britten’s Canticles I and II", and the text (by the Jamaican poet Kai Miller) underpins a gripping dramatic scena that deals with the kind of violence and sacrifice averted in the Bible’s Abraham and Isaac story but very much not averted in The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, a poem by Wilfred Owen set by Britten in War Requiem.

At her best, Frances-Hoad is immediately accessible without being ephemeral, and the conviction and energy of the performances recorded here confirm the authenticity of the feelings and ideas being expressed." Arnold Whittall, Gramophone Magazine

"McMillan’s poetry, and Frances-Hoad’s expressive settings, capture the poignancy and intimacy of these tales, as well as their humour and human drama. (...) Frances-Hoad combines elements of almost musical theatre style with imaginative instrumentation, once again showing her knack for authentic communication of contemporary situations and emotions. A highly impressive collection, striking in its sheer variety, emotional impact and communicative expression."
Nick Boston, Classical Notes, 11/30/2018

"Darkness, disorientation and delight from Cheryl Frances-Hoad. (...) precise musical insight into the relationship between sound, sense and sensibility is characteristic of Frances-Hoad’s writing in all of the compositions recorded on this disc, and the results are deeply affecting. (...) he works on this disc are varied in tone, context and form, but they are also consistent in the very visceral effects that they have upon the listener. Frances-Hoad’s Magic Lantern Tales disorientate and delight in equal measure."
Claire Seymour, Opera Today

"An engagingly diverse selection of songs from Cheryl Frances Hoad, showcasing some powerful emotions and striking textures..."
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill 


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