Freya Waley-Cohen is a British-American composer living in London. Her music is full of shifting kaleidoscopic colours and patterns anchored around melodic lines that twist and wind. It is characterised by contrasts between earthy rhythmic play with bold colours, and fragility, luminous spaces, and a sense of the otherworldly.
Many of her recent works play with myths, magic and the occult as lenses through which to look at the contemporary world. Shes interested in how we can remake the world anew through retelling the myths that tell us how to be. 2022 will see the premiere of her opera WITCH, commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Music. Other works that that deal in these themes include Changeling, commissioned and premiered by the LA Philharmonic with John Adams, Conjure commissioned by and premiered at the Wigmore Hall performed by the Albion Quartet, Spell Book volume 1, commissioned and premiered by the Britten Sinfonia with Katie Bray, Spell Book volume 2 commissioned and premiered by Héloïse Werner and the Tippett Quartet, spell for reality commissioned and conducted by Oliver Zeffman with the Academy of St. Martin in the Field and Julia Bullock, and Talisman commissioned by the Manchester Collective.
Freya has created a number immersive works and installations. The most notable of these is Permutations, an interactive artwork and a synthesis of architecture and music. It invites listeners to explore a new work of music through physically manipulating the acoustics of six adjustable chambers. It was the result of a collaboration with architectural designers Finbarr ODempsey and Andrew Skulina, and violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen. It was created during an Open Space Residency at Snape Maltings from 2015-2017, and presented at the 2017 Aldeburgh Festival, the 2018 Dartington Festival, as well as the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Institute of British Architecture, North. In 2017 Signum Classics released a CD of Freyas music including Permutations and Unveil.
Freyas other recent concert works include Naiad commissioned for the BBC Proms and premiered by the Knussen Chamber Orchestra under Ryan Wigglesworth; Lend us your Voice commissioned and premiered by the Kings Singers; Dust co-commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, Sainte Mere festival, and the Phillips Collection and premiered by the Albion Quartet; Happiness, an orchestral song cycle commissioned by the Melos Sinfonia and premiered with Lauren Fagan; and Ink, commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society for the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Freya is composer in residence at the London Chamber Orchestra, for the 2021-2022 season, a position that includes performances of her works as well as two new commissions for the orchestra. In 2019-20 Freya was the Associate Composer of the Wigmore Hall, where the 2019 season featured a day of concerts focusing on her music. She was associate composer of St. Davids Halls contemporary music series, Nightmusic, from 2018-2021, and was associate composer of Nonclassical 2016-18. In 2017 Freya was winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Her music has been released on Signum, Nimbus, Nonclassical, Delphian and NMC records, and a Debut Disc of her music is in the works with NMC Recordings.
She is an artistic director of Listenpony, which she founded in 2012 alongside William Marsey and Josephine Stephenson. Listenpony is a concert series, commissioning body and record label that programmes classical music, both new and old, alongside a variety of other genres including folk, jazz and pop, in beautiful and unusual venues. In 2020, during Lockdown, Freya co-founded Living Room Live with George Fu and Tamsin Waley-Cohen, an online concert series which live-streamed music from musicians' living rooms all over the world.