“Styles’s On Bunyah is magnificent and just like the poem is raw, not polite. His writing for tenor, piano and string quartet is terse and dissonant and stirs turbulent feelings in the listener, from idle reminiscence and humour to horror as a “poet farmer” looks back on a lifetime spent in the bush, ultimately to witness its destruction by mechanised land clearing.”
The Australian – Graham Strahle
"Lasting for nearly 40 minutes, the work is a fine example of modern Australian composition with beauty found in a neo-tonal idiom, rather than resorting to Sculthorpian bird mimicry and the like."
Limelight - Brett Allen-Bayes
“ Resolutely modern without being abrasive, there are many ‘poetic’ moments, as befits the texts, like the emphasis on the final “sh” in “dish”, or the rhythmic ratcheting of the growth of mechanisation in early Australia, the summer heat and the overriding presence of nature.
A very fine piece indeed.”
The Advertiser - Peter Burdon
"the orchestral writing is crisp and incisive, conjuring up with imagination the successive atmospheres required for the tragedy’s trajectory."
The Guardian - George Hall
"elegantly creepy, defiantly cool"
"so often, Shakespeare’s words can rush away rapidly from us on stage, but here, both projected and sung with deliberate clarity, every word shines and works its magic."
"Styles’ music swirls, hums, and draws us inexorably into the dark heart of power."
Bachtrack - Charlotte Valori
"The music is scored for chamber orchestra, with evocative use of percussion and piano, and although it is pared down to the most emotionally sparse lines it still has moments of surprising lyric grace"
music OMH - Melanie Eskenazi
“A taut, stripped-down operatic version of Shakespeare's tragedy”
“Shakespeare's text, sensitively set by former Glyndebourne young resident composer Styles in his distinctive and atmospheric score”
"the opera has much going for it, not least the superb contribution of the 12-strong band (members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra)”
“Duncan’s “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction”, scored for trumpet, trombone, cello and bass, is eloquently introspective and the chamber ensemble oscillates fluently between reflective and martial modes.”
The Evening Standard
Unborn In America
“… with visceral growls from its four excellent instrumentalists.”
The Financial Times – Hannah Nepil
“it’s more like a double length episode of South Park, but done as contemporary opera”
“Unborn... (and Islands) seem to have sprung from no discernible
“The music element is pretty special. Styles is clearly a gifted composer
in the modern opera idiom.”
“… clearly made with great care and a ridiculous amount of talent.”
“I’d be a shit not to record that this opening night was met by a largely
rapturous response from a sell-out audience in what turns out to be a
pretty big auditorium for avant garde chamber opera,”
Postcard from the Gods – Andrew Haydon
“Unborn In America is brave in its scope and takes a chance. Librettist / director Peter Cant and composer / conductor Luke Styles don’t short change their audience and present a show that is gutsy and pinged with political rhetoric without being preachy.”
“There is a wildness to this unusual piece that is as interesting as it is ridiculously funny.”
“The fact that this was made, was workshopped, and did premiere at such a fitting festival is something we must always celebrate. Theatre must continue to be nonconformist and willing to take risks, be controversial and most of all challenge their audiences.”
The New Current - Jello Biafra
“…the little band under composer-conductor Luke Styles’s direction reinforces the impression, establishing an anarchic tone in which the influences of Alban Berg and Kurt Weill fuse merrily.”
The Independent – Michael Church
“…an assault by a confident agitprop theatre company…”
TimeOut – Jonathan Lennie
“Styles’ sparse, percussive score throbs with tribal-like rhythms, acute snare drum hammering and melodies which scurry all over the place.”
“This is opera at its most provocative.”
Fringe Opera - Francesca Wickers
“The bluesy type cabaret music composed by Luke Styles, coupled with an intentionally gimmicky libretto by director Peter Cant [minus the violence, the referrentialism is entirely Quentin Tarantino] provides a conflict between a nostalgia for a Kurt Weillian epoch whose artistic works served a socially useful purpose, with a more brazen, infantile and yet depraved world Ziggy eventually finds herself in.”
Theatre Bubble - Verity Healey
"Glyndebourne’s Young Composer in Residence has filled twenty concentrated minutes with some terrifically exciting melodic and harmonic ideas, all executed with the assurance of a mature musical mind; small wonder that Glyndebourne has placed such faith in this prodigious Australian who, for all his gifts, still wears youth’s proud livery."
“Styles embroiders the verse like an illuminated tapestry in sound as crunching harmonies diverge to an apparently impossible degree and then reconvene for a coda of hushed unity.”
Classical Source - Mark Valencia
“It’s an ambitious undertaking to set these sonnets, and not one which all that many have tried; they are amongst the greatest poems ever written, and it is a measure of this young man’s talent as a composer that not only did he enable us to view them in a new light, but he did so in music of the deepest respect and love, never once trivializing or attempting to ‘modernise’ the complex emotions which they contain.”
“The music is rich, dense in texture, eminently ‘singable’ and structured around the drama inherent in each poem.”
musicOMH – Melanie Eskenazi
“On a quieter note I loved Ilona Jäntti's (and Luke Styles’s) Handspun, an aerialist performance piece set to a live cello solo. Eschewing the usual death-defying circus turns, Jäntti gave us dreamy lyricism, hanging from her rope like a drowsy spider and slowly circling in a golden light. While clearly born of the steeliest skill, the piece gave an impression of profound detachment and peace. I envied her.”
The Observer – Luke Jennings
“‘Aerial’ ballets were all the rage in late-Victorian London. It mattered little that they were more circus acts than actual ballets; their female stars, swinging from either a trapeze or sturdy ropes, were worshipped on a par with the greatest ballerinas — as in Angela Carter’s novel Nights at the Circus. I often wonder what those people would think of their postmodern successors, as performing with ropes seems to be a growing trend within contemporary dance-making.
Take Ilona’s Jäntti’s (and Luke Styles’s) Handspun, which opened the Exposure: Dance programme at the Linbury Studio Theatre last week. Jäntti combines unique rope-climbing and choreographic skills in a work that makes viewers forget technical bravura and focus,
instead, on a well-designed game of dramatic tensions. Her interaction with the ropes turns those implements into co-protagonists, with whom she engages in a silent, though theatrically expressive dialogue. And, as in every conversation with the most trusted of friends, tones vary considerably, shifting from the affectionate to the confrontational, from the teasing to the coquettish. At the back of the stage cellist
Louise McMonagle adds to this surreal dialogue by playing Luke Styles’s effective score, a sort of modern take on the musique parlante, or ‘speaking music’ that ballet composers went in for in the 19th century.”
The Spectator – Giannandrea Poesio
Chasing the Nose
“…highlight of the evening was Luke Styles‘ highly atmospheric Chasing the Nose, doleful despite a persistent funked-up tribal groove; focussed on a wonderfully lyrical bass clarinet line, it expanded into a feisty duet with saxophone at its conclusion; exhilarating and immersive stuff.”
The Girls Who Wished to Marry the Stars
“They concluded their set with Luke Styles’ piece “The Girl Who Wishes to Marry Stars”, for Juice and a small ensemble, and due, for their next performance at the Southbank Centre, to have three dancers to add visual theatre. It’s not, as the name suggests, set in a Manchester footballers’ bar, but was adapted from a native Canadian folk tale, and Styles balances the trio’s gorgeous swooping textures with economical, poignant fivepiece instrumentation to tell the bittersweet tale (real stars are no better marriage prospect that footballers, it turns out) with irresistible panache.”
The Arts Desk – Matthew Wright