On Macbeth (Glyndebourne/ROH)

Elegantly creepy, defiantly cool” - Bachtrack

“the orchestral writing is crisp and incisive, conjuring up with imagination the successive atmospheres required for the tragedy’s trajectory.” The Guardian

Next Concert: Nov 30th, 19:30, How They Creep, St John’s Smith Square, London.


Handspun, commissioned by ROH2 and premiered at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden as part of Exposure Dance, Feb 2012.

Luke Styles is a composer prolific in opera, the theatre and instrumental music. Over the last four years Luke’s operas including Macbeth and Tycho’s Dream have been performed at Glyndebourne, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Vault Festival. These operas have explored diverse worlds including cabaret, war and science fiction, and allowed him to delve into sensual lyricism, humour, chaos and darkness in his music.

Luke has created dance works for the New Music Biennial (performed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games) and circus works together with long time collaborator, aerialist Ilona Jantti. These works display Luke’s belief in pushing new music into areas where it is not usually encountered. Handspun, a contemporary circus work, continues to tour throughout Europe.

In 2014 Luke was signed by IMG Artists following his time as the first Glyndebourne Young Composer in Residence (2011-2014). Luke continued his creative partnerships with organisations in 2015 as composer in residence at the Foundling Museum, the first composer to occupy the position since Handel.

Collaborations are central to Luke’s work and this has led to new works with conductors and soloists Vladimir Jurowski and David Pyatt and ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Luke is a former student of Wolfgang Rihm, George Benjamin and Detlev Muller-Siemens. Read more HERE.


Workshops, Lodger and Songs

October and early November has been a time for a number of different compositional projects running simultaneously and the performance of an old favourite of mine.

Last time I checked in I was preparing for the first workshop on my snappy opera for Mahogany Opera Group. This is a 10 minute opera for young people and I choose to use the Brothers Grimm tale, The Strange Feast, as my source material. The story is a simple one. Blood Sausages invite Liver Sausages to dinner, on arrival the Liver sausages see Strange Things on the stairs, this confuses the poor Liver Sausages. The Blood Sausages insist nothing is wrong and the Liver Sausages are probably hallucinating. The Strange Things appear again, this time to warn the Liver Sausages that the Blood Sausages intend to cook the Liver Sausages for dinner. The Liver Sausages heed the warning and flee, just in time.

The tale offered me the strangeness, absurdity, humour and fun that I was looking for in this project. It also presented me with a snappy story of 3 different character groups that could be played by any number of young people. This has also been the first opera I have ever tried writting my own libretto for. With a clear narrative already mapped out the task of libretto writing was really one of finding the most concise and striking way of telling the story in words, which would then leave enough room for music, movement and improvisation to flesh it out into opera. I thoroughly enjoyed this process of writing my own libretto and it had a liberating and directness to the process where I could for the first time create the words knowing exactly how they would turn into music. I think this has been manageable for a short opera and within this specific context. It’s not something I’m dying to repeat for upcoming operas, but it’s nice to have given it a go.

The workshops we had with young people in Cornwall were very successful. The young people took to the tale immediately, they relished the darkness of it and really went to town on discovering how the Strange Things would move and the noises they would make. There’s lots of room in the piece for each group of young people that perform the piece to make it their own, with devised sections for the sounds of all the characters being working into the score and a section for building up simple/body percussion textures.

Alongside the snappy opera I have been writing songs as part of a set of songs which will be premiered in summer 2017. There are a core set of songs that I am writing with poet/librettist Alan McKendrick and also four songs which I am writing together with diverse groups of young people all around the country, such as on the Isle of Skye and in Ipswich. I am pretty close to finishing this full set of songs and will hopefully get the last two done before the end of the month.

At the start of November my silent film score to Hitchcock’s The Lodger was performed in Karlsruhe Germany. I was commissioned to write this piece for the Schauberg cinema in Karlsruhe back in 2010 and it was premiered in 2011. Five years later and it’s great to see the piece receiving a second performance. The score is for piano and live electronics. So I took the chance to re-record the electronics, as a way of freshening the piece up a little bit. The electronics are all derived from sounds/music I composed and play myself on double bass. I use a range of extended techniques, especially scrapping the strings with glass. This produces a particularly sinister sound, which accompanies a lot of the panic and violence of the film. The sounds are manipulated live in a max patch. I couldn’t play the electronics myself for this performance, but I was able to employ the skills of Damon Lee, an electronics virtuoso and fine composer, who I met when I was studying in Karlsruhe (2006-2008).

Also in November I have had a chance to test out the first scene and some additional arias for a new opera I am composing. The piece will premiere in 2021, so this work is happening quite far in advance of the opening night, but opera is a big slow moving beast. I have been working closely with La Nuova Musica in developing the sound world of this piece, which I have been describing as neo-baroque and during these workshops we went deeper into the relationship between my score and the room for improvisation, that the continuo section and singers naturally bring to an interpretation of baroque or older music, but which is not a common feature of contemporary opera. In addition to this the librettist, Alan McKendrick and I were testing whether our scenes were achieving what we wanted from them. So lots of questions about character and pacing were tested and answered in these sessions. We are having another round of workshops in Jan 2017 and then I will take a bit of a pause from this opera as other more urgent commissions take precedent.

Purchase: The Girls Who Wished to Marry the Stars from NMC, Here.

Interminable Prelude(2006). Cello Trio

Macbeth premiered in 2015 at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

To get in touch please contact my agent at IMG. Bridget Canniere.