Panufnik Legacies III: Joanna Lee

Following the recent release of the third album in the Panufnik Legacies series, which features brand new music from alumni of the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme, we asked the composers themselves to tell us a little more about their experience writing for and recording with the Orchestra.


JoannaLee 350x350'Brixton Briefcase' is a slang term for a portable cassette player. Born in the 1980s, much of my childhood was spent listening to my cassette player – heading to my local independent music store or Woolworths to sift through reams of classical and pop cassette albums, purchasing an eclectic mix from Dvořák to Run DMC to Ella Fitzgerald. Interspersed with my avid listening were dance lessons and piano practice. This piece is essentially a reflection of this – the influence of pop music and dance amidst a life focused on classical music practice. The work uses a tone-row lifted from an R&B song which, focusing on the percussive and rhythmic qualities of the orchestra, develops and expands into a dance-inspired piece. 

I wrote the work for the LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme back in 2011 – it was my first outing for symphony orchestra and with the LSO’s limitless palate of timbre and skill on offer, coupled with my youthful zeal, I propelled a barrage of material and ideas into the piece, which in its 2011 version was a considerably more complex and dense score. Indeed, the energetic dance I had aimed for was fast and furious but lost a sense of centre amidst the density. 

The piece has subsequently received some overhauls – it was reworked in 2017 to a dance suite for solo winds and string orchestra, forming one of four movements based on ballet, hip-hop, a dirge and rumpus. And again, for this recording – in the years that have come between the original and today’s version, I have moved towards a quest for greater simplicity and clarity in my work, something that perhaps has come from my focus on opera commissions where directness can be beneficial, while endeavouring to stay faithful to the elements that are core to my work.'


Listen to Joanna Lee's Brixton Briefcase on Apple Music now


Panufnik Legacies III Album CoverPanufnik Legacies III

Each year the LSO's Panufnik Composers Scheme gives six composers the chance to write for a world-class symphony orchestra, under the guidance of our Principal Guest Conductor Francois-Xavier Roth and composers Colin Matthews and Christian Mason. Launched in 2005, the scheme was devised in association with Lady Camilla Panufnik to celebrate the musical legacy left behind by her husband, Sir Andrzej Panufnik, and to give new generations of composers new opportunities to develop their skills. Since then, over 80 composers have participated and the Orchestra has released several albums showcasing the work of these incredible new talents.

The third album in our Panufnik Legacies series features new music from Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Ewan Campbell, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Donghoon Shin, Alex Roth, Matthew Sergeant, Patrick Giguère, Sasha Siem, Bethan Morgan-Williams, Michael Taplin, Benjamin Ashby & Joanna Lee.

This recording has been generously supported by The Boltini Trust. The LSO Panufnik Composers Scheme is generously supported by Lady Hamlyn and The Helen Hamlyn Trust.

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