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 Performance: Handspun, 29.08.17. Letni Letna Festival Prague CZ


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 currently working on two new operas, one for the Perth Festival and another for Opera Philadelphia, with premieres in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Alongside his operatic work Luke is working on a concerto for Double Bass and a Song Cycle for Mark Padmore and the Britten Sinfonia.

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


Head down, stay on target

It’s been heads down composing over the last month or so, trying to “stay on target” thinking of Red 3 and Star Wars helping me keep to schedule, as the opera composing reaches the two thirds (vocal score) mark. I have completed the first 2 of 3 Acts of the Ned Kelly opera and now I’m on the home stretch as I enter the third act, where the action intensifies and things come to a conclusion. Right now I need to go back over everything I have written and understand everything afresh before going forward. The last thing I want to do is introduce new material at this stage of the opera which isn’t connected to what has come before. I hear this in other operas as composers get tired or lazy as they approach the end and think injecting new material into an opera is a way of revitalising it. This makes sense to some extent, but for my ears (and eyes) it too often feels like the last third of the piece is detached from the previous two thirds and instead of being an intesification of the previous material (possibly into something new) it becomes a distraction and an obstacle to the culmination of the drama. So that’s where I’m at, looking back to go forward with an understanding of what I have created so far and how to make it fresh and meaningful as it comes to a conclusion and says something new in the process, without starting a new opera in the third act.

Helping with all of this was a very constructive period of development on the opera in Perth back in August. The core creative team got together and talked through the whole opera so far. This included production ideas and probing questions of decisions taken and decisions yet to be made. Difficult questions help to clarify the thinking and dramatic choices and often, as was the case this time round, it opens up new possibilities for the yet unwritten material. Act 3 therefore has a couple of exciting new avenues open to us that weren’t there before the development time with the team and I am rearing to go to compose it. Maybe it will blow up like the death star, who knows.

Alongside all of this opera composing and thinking I have been running an 8 week composition course with high school students at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts, my old high school. The students are very talented and the two classes I am working with have been working on a whole class composition based on the artworks of Sidney Nolan and the older students have been reacting to my own jazz/classical pieces, Chasing The Nose and The Girls Who Wished to Marry the Stars, to make their own small ensemble jazz/classical fusion works.

It has been very strange going back to my old school after having graduated 17 years ago and establishing my adult life in Europe. But my old teachers are still inspirational educators fostering the next generation of musicians.

I’ve only got 2 months left in Australia and to finish the vocal score before heading back home to London, where it’s on to new projects and orchestrating the opera.

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

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.

Chasing The Nose. Mixed classical and jazz ensemble.