New music project : ANIMO commissioned their last cycle of new compositions in 2021-22

This project is now closed

Starting in 2019 we decided to commission 5 or 6 composers annually until 2025 and so we are creating an exclusively created Animo repertoire with exclusive rights to each composition for the first 1.5 - 2 years from the moment the score is handed over to us. Our dream is to build a fabulous library of new repertoire which represents us and our ethos and gives us a chance to take this experience and share it with our audiences but also Schools, Colleges and Universities. The pandemic changed our itineray for this project but we are now back on track and our next 'Call-out' will be during Winter 2022 for commissions in 2023-2024,

2019-2021: Edmund Jolliffe, Helen Walker, Joseph Howard and Tara Guram (we hope to pick up our collaboration with Yiannis Maramathas at a later stage)

2021-2022: Apollonio Maiello, Caitlin Laing-McEvoy, Jovana Backovic and Supriya Nagarajan.


Apollonio Maiello

Apollonio Maiello's biography:
Composer  &  pianist  Apollonio  Maiello  juxtaposes  aesthetic  elements  from a lot of  genres.

By collaborating with renowned artists both in music and the performing arts he has appeared as composer and pianist on festivals all around the world such as the Felicja  Blumenthal  Festival  in  Tel  Aviv  (Israel),  the  ​Theaterhaus  Stuttgart  (Germany), the ​​Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ ​(Netherlands), the ​​Teatro grande di Brescia (Italy), the ​Festival Barocco Alessandro Stradella ​(Italy), ​Stony Brook University New York  (USA)  the  ​Highscore  Festival  for  Contemporary  Music  ​(Italy)  and  the  Heidelberger Schlossfestspiele (Germany). As a composer he has been commissioned by  ​Ensemble  Sentieri  Selvaggi ​(IT),  ​Quartetto Indaco ​(IT),  ​Sputter Box  (USA),  the  Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra ​(USA), ​Molot Ensemble (RUS)​, Intercontinental Ensemble ​(NL)​,  ShoutHouse Ensemble ​(USA),  ​Zemlinsky Chamber  Orchestra ​(NL) ​and by the ​Pierrot Quartett ​(GER).

Apollonio has been awarded prizes at the  ‘’International  symphonic  composition  competition  Michal  Kleofas  Oginski  2020’’, ‘’Steinway&Sons Jazz-Piano Preis 2016 Stuttgart’’ & the ‘’Nationaler Yamaha Jazzklavier Wettbewerb 2017’’. 


We've had a fantastic first meeting with Apollonio where shared his first ideas. It's a punchy first movement, based on hip-hop, Carnatic Indian music, 20th century traits and among many other influences, the notes are inspired by Messiaen's Mode 3!  He's asked us not to publish the video of our meeting but we will work on a separate 'interview video' once the composition is completed.



Caitlin Laing-McEvoy

Caitlin Laing-McEvoy is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, and producer.

She is the singer and co-writer in Manchester based duo/collective Oystercatcher, and plays baritone/alto sax, flute and backing vocals in 11 piece psychedelic afro-funk group Agbeko.

Caitlin has toured and played in festivals all over the world with these outfits, including Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Malta, Croatia and South Africa. Caitlin was recently chosen for the Brighter SoundBoth Sides Now international commission’, for which she is currently collaborating with Denmark based artist Ditte Elly Goard. As well as this, she has recently been awarded the ‘Help Musicians' Do It Differently Fund, for her new collaboration with award winning composer and saxophonist Andy Scott. 

Having studied jazz and classical saxophone at the Royal Northern College of Music for two years, she transferred in her third year onto the pop course and finished her degree focusing on vocals. During her time at the RNCM, she studied and experienced a wide variety of styles and influences, which is reflected in her career and her music.

Other groups and artists Caitlin has performed or arranged with include The Untold Orchestra, Dele Sosimi, Manchester Camerata/Sister Sledge's 'Disco Classical', to name a few.

Caitlin says:

If this year has proven anything about music, it’s that it can and does work outside the box. One of the things I love about Sarah and Yanna is their open-mindedness and enthusiasm, which is something I’m really looking forward to exploring. Having developed my writing and performing in a primarily pop/jazz setting, I’m excited to see what we can do to merge different ideas and concepts to create something touching and meaningful.


Working with Caitlin has been proof of just how transformative music is for all of us!

We've had our first meeting Zoom which you can view here. This was Phase 1.

It's now the end of April and Caitlin has produced a score which has a wonderful description at the top (below).

We will now meet for Phase 2 and discuss all these ideas further. It's a privilege to be working with Caitlin. She's a multi-instrumentalist which allows her real insight on the physical connection between instrument, player and score. 

So far, we've had audio ideas sent to us on email (it's such a joy when we do!) some electronic, some electroacoustic, a bit of blues/jazz, a bit of classical... there's just so many styles to choose from!


Supriya Nagarajan

Supriya Nagarajan is a UK based vocalist/composer who creates cross- cultural cross-genre concept driven immersive music work. She has toured the globe and created work for festivals like the hcmf//, Ultima Oslo and Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

She is a Performing Rights Society/Jerwood composer and an alumni of New voices 2018 Sound and Music. Supriya is currently working on a cross-disciplinary installation performance centered around the audience experience of various tea's. Titled "Sound of tea" the project celebrates her synaesthesia and brings together music, movement, literature, electronics and tea ceremonies to create a sensory tea drinking experience. Supriya's work mainly intersects science,music and sensory experiences.

Her past work includes the Lullaby-Sonic Cradle that toured extensively and Festival of Conversations, a participative community engagement work. She is the Artistic Director of Manasamitra, a UK based arts charity and a passionate advocate for fair access in the music sector . She is currently mentoring composers of colour under a PRSF funded scheme. 


Supriya sees the collaboration with Animo as exciting and innovative. The plan is to bring together the whole spectrum of Indian ragas and create a mood board that will embrace the "dawn to dusk" concept. The piece will portray a day with all its emotions and shades.

We've had out Phase 1 meeting with Supriya a little while ago and this is a longer video which unfolds the process of experimenting and improvising during the session with her on two Indian Ragas. 

It was truly transformative and such an eye-opener to how we want to carry on with this process of commissioning new works in future. We also hope that Supriya and Animo will become a Trio... one day we might even be in the same room! We are now getting ready for Phase 2. 





Jovana Backovic

…the most remarkable is the voice of Backovic,which gives the music

its natural warmth and colour’ (Musicframes)


Jovana Backovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia where she graduated classical composition from the Faculty of Music Art in 2006. While studying for degree in composition, she founded, composed for and led the ensemble ‘Arhai’ in Belgrade since 1998, and their debut album ‘Mysterion’ was released in 2006 on the Serbian national label PGP .

In its Belgrade incarnation Arhai was a ten-piece electro-folk orchestra that developed a fusion of traditional music from the Balkan region with ambient sounds and jazz-influenced improvisation, using classical flute, ‘cello, piano, electric guitar, bass and percussion/drums, along with a trio of female singers.

As a UK resident Jovana continued to create music under the name ArHai, moving toward solo performance using live electronics. When she moved to the U.K to complete her PhD thesis, she began her collaboration with British folk guitarist and tambura-player Adrian Lever and developed the current live performance format that combines multilayered vocals with tambura, dulcimer, tarabuka and electronics. This collaborative work was generously supported by Arts Council of England in 2013.

A prolific composer for classical and ethnic instruments alike Jovana also composes for Theatre and Documentaries.

Her current interest lies within the field of electro-acoustic music and live improvisational performance – exploring the process of the creation and development of individual music identity through improvisation and the use of technology. Jovana has completed her PhD thesis at University of East Anglia  in 2014, with the subject ‘Between Two Words: Approaching Balkan oral tradition through the use of technology as compositional and performance medium’.

Jovana’s  contemporary classical works include Silence’ (Lorca’s lyrics) for a mixed choir (2000) ‘Four haiku lyrics’ for voice, flute and marimba (2002), ‘Trilok Trio’ for clarinet, violoncello and marimba (2004) / ‘Inqualieren’ for two guitars (2004),  Nigredo  (2010),  ‘Vesper’s call’ (2017) for piano and mezzo soprano – commissioned and premiered by Women of the World Festival in London  ‘Tales of the Macabre’ for solo piano (2018).

Our journey with Jo started a little while ago and it started with a bang!

Jo started writing the piece in front of our eyes, on Musescore and we could see, hear and discuss with her notes, rhythms, structure and so on. 

This was a unique experience and once again our composers have allowed us an all access ticket to their creative process! Incredible!

This is a short video of our first encounter. 

Unsurprisingly Jovana has now moved rapidly on to Phase 2 which is a written score from the ideas that were created during our first encounter. Fun time signature, fun accents, lots of dynamic contrast and this first movement doesn't stand still, it changes direction and becomes more lyrical and much more conversational but all this could change! That's the joy of this process... we are part of it but really, they are the masters of their art and we just have the joy of "feeling our way" through it all. 


Edmund Jolliffe

Edmund’s music embraces a huge range of styles from contemporary classical to songs for shows. He writes music for film and television, but is also an award winning concert composer (Prizes). His music is published, performed and broadcast all over the world.

He has been writing music to picture for over fifteen years, both in the UK and internationally. Many of his projects have been nominated for or won numerous awards, including BAFTAs. Major series he has composed music for include ‘Who do you think you are?’ (BBC1), ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’ (ITV1), ‘Homestead Rescue’ (Discovery) ‘My Kitchen Rules’ (Sky) ‘Long Lost Family’ (ITV1) and ‘Unreported World’ (C4). He was nominated for an RTS Craft and Design Award for his score to BBC 1’s ‘Elizabeth at 90’.

More recently, Edmund has been working on a documentary about Tudor Christmas (due to be shown on BBC 2, 20th Dec), finished writing the score for two series of Unreported World and a cookery series coming out in February, writing music for a further two documentaries, composing a full album of Music Library and proofreading a new publication of clarinet and piano pieces. Edmund has just started writing our piece and his first request was to ask Sarah is she can produce a sound on the flute that sounds like a puffin (see below!).

To find out more about Edmund, please visit Edmund's website and his youTube channel.

Animo are thrilled to have commissioned Edmund to write a piece for us based on the RSPB's list of endangered birds. 

February update: Edmund is working on 3 new pieces for us after we changed our mind (sorry Edmund) about the first drafts but what is happening at the moment is simply astonishing! We have three challenging pieces based on the RSPB's Red list of endangered birds. So, pretty soon three birds will fly the nest: the cuckoo, 'sky dancer' (hen harrier)  and the lesser spotted woodpecker are all ready to soar. Piano wood trills, flute murmurations and a huge respect for Edmund's skill to transform the ordinary to extraordinary!

July 2020: Edmund has sent us the final scores for the Red Birds suite.  Yanna is using castanets for the Woodpecker trills (what fun!) and Sarah is working out the best possible sound the flute can bring to emulating the sound of birds 'murmuration'. We are getting ready to Zoom with Edmund and discuss the pieces further on the 28th July. After that it's full steam ahead to get them to fly on YouTube and for the recording of Animo 2. His music is full of imagery and longing. As we drill into them further, new depths appear. Once the technical aspects of a piece are dealt with, the depths of the composer's soul get revealed. A most wonderful experience! We feel extremely lucky to be working with Edmund and to be part of his legacy. Thank you Edmund!

We performed Edmund's 'The lesser spotted woodpecker' on a recent Livestream 4. We are still discovering the pieces. We will hopefully have more time to play through the whole suite next January before we start recording for ANIMO two. We feel so inspired by Edmund's music! It's an absolute corker of a trilogy and we look forward to performing it next year in one of our full scale online (or live?) concerts. Edmund and Animo have worked very closely to make this composition a reality and we are really grateful to him for persevering through it all to give us such a brilliant set of works. Audiences will be able to catch a glimpse of all birds by mid-February 2021 online.


Lukas Piel

Lukas Piel (*1989) is a Composer and Sound Designer from Essen, Germany.

Lukas is a multi-instrumentalist and has toured with different bands and ensembles both in his home country and internationally. As a composer he has written music for Film and Video games and this is what attracted us to choose him as one of our five 'new music project' composers for 2020. 

Lukas was nominated for the European Soundtrack Cologne Award in 2017 and 2019. 

We are excited that he has agreed to write for us based on his Soundtrack expertise. Three examples of his compositions are below:

We are very excited to hear Lukas' second draft of our piece which already sounds astonishingly beautiful and haunting (just what we wanted!). A sneak preview will appear on our blog in late January 2020. 

February update: January 2020 has gone so now the sneak preview will be at the end of February! Lukas has very nearly finished the composition and it sounds exactly how we thought it might. We are now on teaser 3 and the real work for him will start as he begins to write out our parts and guide of the background soundscape. Lukas has chosen a clever device of a clock that ticks the main "spine" of a beat throughout the piece. As the piece is for live instrument against a pre-recorded electronic soundscape, we find ourselves once again in our element. As soon as the score arrives we will have a better idea of the challenges ahead. 

April update: Lukas has finished his piece! With the exception of the final mix which has to be done in a studio, Lukas has created the most atmospheric, moving and healing piece for us. It is scored for Flute, Piano and Soundtrack (electronic sounds).  A preview will be available soon on our Media page under 'Composers audio and video' which we are about to create. The story behind the music is that of Alan Kurdi. Lukas's music is full of emotion and it is clear to see that he was really moved by the toddler's story and what it represented. Thank you Lukas.

'The Journey of Alan Kudri' was the music that had everyone in tears during both performances live and virtual. The track is now available online as a single (since the 5th December 2020). We are so proud of the recording and the fact that it we recorded it during the pandemic. Really grateful that Adam Bertenshaw travelled through the night from Scotland to be with us on a specific date to meet our deadline. The piece will soon be turned into a short film. We are so excited and hoping to be able to complete the film by July 2021. Lukas was our first composer -discovered him on SoundCloud. We hope that this collaboration will become a friendship and a long term collaboration.

Helen Walker

Helen Walker is a (soulful) musician, composer, songwriter and record producer. Helen's music can be found on social media and is diverse, intriguing, beguiling and with a fine blend of jazz, folk and fun! We were very grateful that she and her husband (also a fine musician) came to our launch. It was a meeting of minds and hearts. 

We hope that working with Helen, Animo will develop a new sound out of this collaboration.

When Helen first approached us she said: 

Having listened to your music on your website I feel I may be of interest to you because I tend to write eclectic and melodic music with jazz influenced harmonies. I’d be happy to "shape the piece to your strengths” and have it evolve through your input. 

We are very excited at the prospect of working with Helen. It was because of her enthusiasm that we started the 'new music project' and we are proud to be working with her. 

Two examples of Helen's music: 

'Gather Here’ was winner of the Alwinton Summer Concerts 2016 National Composers' Competition. Premiered by Kathryn Tickell & The Side and subsequently added to their setlist.

'Divertissement No.3 for Guitar’ was playlisted on BBC Radio 3 as part of the ‘Hear Her Season’ June 2018.

February update: Helen has completed her composition which is in five parts. Short movements but full of vibrancy and emotion they are written for Alto and Piccolo flutes. Helen and Sarah spent some time discussing the different tone of each flute and range and how the compositions can sound best. It's the most interesting part of commissioning compositions: performers and composers come from different places and yet they somehow have to meet and at times yield to the other's ideas or wishes but always respect each other's opinion. Our collaboration with Helen was different again. Helen prefers to work separately and so her ideas poured out of her and into 5 finished pieces. Then discussions followed and many questions. We expect that there will be a few adjustments before the work gets its first outing and even after that. We hope to perform some of her pieces during the 1st Birthday celebrations at the Take4 Gallery on 4th April.  It feels so rewarding to have Helen's voice in our portfolio!  Recorded segments of her new work together with score excerpts will be on our Blog shortly. The final work will be performed at Hellens Manor on August 2nd 2020. 

April update: Sadly, our Hellens Manor concert is postponed so we will have to wait a little while longer before the premiere.

Helen finished our works quickly and her style is wholesome and to the point. We can't wait to share her music with you. We are also looking forward to a session with her once Sarah and I have had a chance to work on the pieces. With the lockdown in place, it's hard to see how this might happen but we will keep trying!

We performed the piccolo pieces during Livestream 4 and even with Sarah's piccolo malfunction, the pieces came through strong and clear. We are looking forward to recording the entire set on YouTube and follow that with virtual or live concerts starting February 2021. Helen's beautiful themes are beautiful and fun to play!

Tara Guram

Tara Guram is another wonderful composer that we are looking forward to working with. 

Initially a geneticist, Tara was subsequently a prize-winning postgraduate student at the Royal College of Music, where she studied with Edwin Roxburgh.  Her music has been played throughout Britain, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, recorded with Sargasso records, and also performed in Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, France and Jordan.  Previous commissions have included pieces for the Brighton Festival, the International Harp Festival, and the Sound and Image Festival in Bonn.  She has won several composition prizes including the U.K. and Eire Composition Platform 2002 Audience Prize, and was a finalist for the Young Composer’s Award in 2000.  Tara also works as an upper strings teacher and ensemble director for Hertfordshire Music Service.

Tara's eccentric, surprising and extra-ordinary compositions have intrigued us. We really want to work with her to see what ideas we can bring together and how her imagination can mould our sound. 
Tara's music:
NEW! Soundcloud: Tara's beautiful music scores can be heard here
Here is a Tara Guram's 'Loopy Valse' which she has recommended as an example of her style:

We are so excited after our first official Skype with Tara! The ideas came rushing in after our initial rendition of her draft idea. In her own words: "the plan would be to start from nothing, build up with this idea to an anguished climax of utter grief, and then back to nothing.  I do try to be cheerful!!" Well, we absolutely love the anguish and the ideas of how Sarah's sound can start from nothing, how the piano can incorporate the middle pedal (don't get those chances very often!) and how we can build this together. Wouldn't it be nice if this piece keeps evolving?

 21st February update: Tara and Animo met at Eden's Hill Studio and created new concepts, ideas from which new ideas will be born. Our Blog tells the full story.  Tara's themes are about endless grief, sadness, inevitability and yet, somehow, about hope. Thank you Tara. You are an incredible person and we loved working with you!

Photo and Video from this February meet: 

July 2020: We just had the pleasure of working with Tara remotely, on Zoom. Is it possible that each time we find new ways of communicating through experimentation and by accident and adventure? Our sessions are filled with an absolute love of music (her music in this case), a passion for sorrowful textures and sounds and the ultimate respect for one another. This is a true collaboration between performers and composer. We are so lucky to have this opportunity to work on details and ideas together. 

Sarah and Tara had a chance to talk multiphonics and change quite a few sounds and layers as a result, I got the chance to "smash" the piano during the climax section and we all took time to think and come up with alternative ideas under Tara's guiding force (emphasis on 'force'). We love working with Tara and we think the world of her. All artists are anxious beings and we never take our talent and skills for granted, frequently minimising our worth. With Tara we have a chance to grow' and enjoy 'being wrong'! Her, as yet untitled, piece comes from a very deep emotional place and we think it will touch many people for different reasons. Wow! What an experience!

 Forget everything I said...! We've changed the entire piece. Tara had some time to reflect and we had some time to come to grips with the piece and it's now a gem of pure sound and emotion. Some of the extended instrumental techniques were dismissed and all that's left is a sparesley composed piece with raw emotion and sound. We are still learning it but our latest virtual meeting was decisive in a change of course. 'Requiem' is dedicated to Tara's mother who passed away and we feel honoured to be part of this dedication and play Tara's music. Through this we became friends and look forward to many more years of playing Tara's music.

Joseph Howard

Joseph Howard was our Launch Composer. We premiered his piece on the 24th October 2019. 

There are several blogs that Yanna wrote about him and his Animo commissioned piece, 'Ex Arcadia'.

Having worked with him we feel extremely lucky that we had the chance to play a piece so beautifully crafted. Joe is an up and coming composer and we will hear a lot from him in the next few years. 

Thank you for a brilliant first commission Joe!

Below videos from the journey to premiering 'Ex Arcadia' at our launch in October 2019.