I recently conducted the choral set-pieces on this amazing new album, Riddle Songs, by Stef Conner!
This is an album of new music with very old words -- a concept album with a difference: a personal vision of a world just out of reach. Its music and its stories, its seasons and its creatures are addressed or conjured up in hymns, spells, and that most Anglo-Saxon of poetic forms – the riddle. Conner’s settings draw on English folksong, medieval music scholarship and a range of unlikelier inspirations to make something entirely her own. In around half the tracks she duets with early-music specialist Hanna Marti, both of them thrillingly poised between creation and rediscovery. In between come impressive choral set-pieces, while elsewhere Conner is alone, accompanying herself on a strummed lyre. At the album’s heart is an intimate communion with our ideas of the past, of distance and of nearness, of knowledge and enduring mystery.