ISABELLA GELLIS



composer



latest;



news;

premiere of opera ‘The Devil’s Den’ announced at Nevill Holt Festival 2024

biography;


Isabella Gellis is a British-Canadian composer of acoustic music. Her work often focuses on imagined and disguised sounds, steeped in the silly, absurd, and surreal.

Recent highlights include a suite for pianist Joseph Havlat based on Biber’s Battalia à 10 premiered at Dartington, a trio about bowing and blowing for members of Explore Ensemble [Listenpony commission], a string trio about moss premiered at Wigmore Hall [Nash Ensemble commission] and an immersive operatic vignette about getting a haircut [Shadwell Opera commission]. In the summer of 2023 Isabella attended Aspen Music Festival and School as a composition fellow, and was awarded the Jacob Druckman Prize, resulting in an orchestral commission for the following season. 

Her opera, ‘The Devil’s Den’, commissioned by Shadwell Opera, will be premiered at the Nevill Holt Festival in June 2024.

She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, with Edmund Finnis, Christopher Austin and Morgan Hayes, graduating with a Bicentenary Prize for all-round excellence, the Postgraduate Composition Prize, and the Musicians’ Company Priaulx Rainier Prize. 

She is currently working on a piano quintet, a piece for the LSO (as a participant of the Panufnik scheme), and a new orchestral work (Aspen Music Festival commission)






take your pick, all credited to photographer Ella Pavlides



︎     ︎


LIST OF WORKS 


send me an email if you would like to see any scores [or hear any recordings that aren’t online]


🎹


SONATA / piano / 8’ / 2018 / ︎︎
a sort of microsonata

SLOW DAY NO. 5 / piano / 2’ / 2020 /︎/ ︎︎/
a song without words, intentionally very playable

THE DISSOLUTE SOCIETY COMPRISED OF ALL SORTS / piano / 35’ / 2021 / ︎
a suite based on Biber’s Battalia, for Joseph Havlat, premiered at Dartington


🎤


FALLING UP SONGS / soprano, vln, bcl, pft / 3’ / 2016 / ︎
these are good fun, secret text, send me a message if you want to find out

MONTREAL SONGS /medium voice, piano / 14’ / 2021 / ︎
three folk song arrangements in French, English and Yiddish

DEAD HORSES / solo voice  / 12’ / 2021 / ︎︎
lots of good words in this, text by me, RAM200 commission, for Lotte Betts-Dean

I WISH I COULD SPEAK TO YOU / medium-high voice, piano / 3’ / 2021 / ︎
sweet and sad, text by Dan Sociu

HOW TO SING AND PLAY THE HARP / soprano, harp / 11’ / 2022 / ︎
quite theatrical, some text by Dan Sociu in the middle, lots of syllables either side

 
🎭️


FOR PEACE AND COUNTRY [CHAMBER OPERA] / mezzo-soprano + ebcl, cl, bcl, a-sax, bn, tr, tuba, vl, vlc, pft / 16’ / 2018 / ︎︎
libretto from a video my sister made when she was 8, the singer [Lotte Betts-Dean] plays 11 different characters (all stuffed toys) - children’s opera? sort of

WITH GLORY AND HIS SCISSORS GLINTING / countertenor, bcl, vcl, perc /  7’ / 2022
a “barbershopera”, text from clickhole.com, for Shadwell Opera, recorded in binaural audio


🎺️🎻🪕


AYBROOK STREET / six sight-reading violinists of any ability / 12’ / 2017 / ︎
a made-to-order piece, premiered at The Ditch, Shoreditch Town Hall

THINKPIECE / flute, horn, cello + tape / 11’ / 2021 
verses and choruses with some thoughts about Messiaen at the end

BOWED AND BLOWED / clarinet, violin, cello / 6’ / 2022 / ︎
quite jaunty, lullaby in the middle, Listenpony commission, written for a trio from Explore Ensemble

LURID CUPOLA MOSS / violin, viola, cello / 10’ / 2022 / ︎
earthy and airy, all harmonics, Nash Ensemble commission, premiered at Wigmore Hall

STRANGE ISABELLA / wind quintet, piano / 2’ / 2022
peeling piano chords and important horn part, Stomping Ground commission, programmed alongside Isabella Leonarda

AND OTHER THINGS [version 3?] / clarinet [or violin], cello, piano /  10’ / 2022 / ︎
thinking about Charles Ives - the middle was written at Dartington in 2018, the movements either side materialised in June 2022

FRIENDS / kalimba, trumpet / 10-20’ / 2022
bathroom music for Van Gogh House in London

VALEDICTIONS / flute, clarinet, horn, cello / 4’30” /2022 
a little farewell

WHAT SHALL WE DO / alto flute, clarinet [Bb+Bass], perc., piano, string quartet / 9’ / 2023 /︎
based on an improvisation session with two nine year olds - the shanty “Drunken Sailor” was a starting point, AMFS commission


🎺️🎺️🎺️🎻🎻🎻🎻🪕🪕🪕🪕


SUBLUNAR / orchestra - no percussion / 8’ / 2019 / ︎
very yearning, + there’s an Ives song somewhere in the middle

VALEDICTIONS / orchestra / 9’ / 2023 / ︎
phantom ventifact, impluvious psithurisms


  🛠️


YOU’RE A PIANO QUINTET / piano quintet / premiere tbc.

THE DEVIL’S DEN / Shadwell Opera commission / premiere tbc.

LADY SKIMMINGTON / for LSO / premiere 2024

ORCHESTRA PIECE / for Aspen Music Festival / premiere August 2024


EVENTS


upcoming











recent




04/04/24 - LADY SKIMMINGTON @ LSO ST LUKE’S W/ LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND FRANÇOIS-XAVIER ROTH

06/06/24 - MONTREAL SONGS - details tba, w/ Joseph Havlat and Lotte Betts-Dean, in Folkestone

15/06/24 - THE DEVIL’S DEN @ NEVILL HOLT FESTIVAL W/ SHADWELL OPERA

20/06/24 - YOU’RE A PIANO QUINTET - details tba, in London

︎

04/12/23 - WHAT SHALL WE DO @ ZIPPER HALL [LOS ANGELES, CA] W/ ELIAS PETER BROWN AND COLBURN CHAMBER PLAYERS

13/09/23 - FRIENDS @ VAN GOGH HOUSE LONDON

12/08/23 - VALEDICTIONS (FOR ORCHESTRA) [READING 2] @ BENEDICT MUSIC TENT [ASPEN, CO] W/ ACA

17/08/23 - WHAT SHALL WE DO @ HARRIS CONCERT HALL [ASPEN, CO] W/ ASPEN CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE AND TIM WEISS

19/08/23 - [OPERA SCENE PREVIEW] @ WHEELER OPERA HOUSE [ASPEN, CO] 

15/07/23 - VALEDICTIONS (FOR ORCHESTRA) [READING 1] @ BENEDICT MUSIC TENT [ASPEN, CO] W/ ACA

02/04/23 - BOWED AND BLOWED @ BERKHAMSTED OLD TOWN HALL W/ STUART KING, CAROLINE BALDING, CLARE O’CONNELL
 

︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎



past
19/12/22 - DEAD HORSES; RELEASE (200 PIECES LAUNCH) @ RAM [online]

04/12/22 - DUMFRIES AND THE EEL @ ROYAL OPERA HOUSE FOYER W/ DAN NEWELL + BILLY’S BAND [FAMILY SUNDAY EVENT]

13/11/22 -[POSTPONED] BOWED AND BLOWED @ BERKHAMSTED OLD TOWN HALL W/ STUART KING, CAROLINE BALDING, CLARE O’CONNELL

26/06/22 - FRIENDS @ VAN GOGH HOUSE LONDON

24/06/22 - STRANGE ISABELLA @ ROBINSON COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE W/ ENSEMBLE RENARD + JULIAN CHAN

21/06/22 - STRANGE ISABELLA @ RAM W/ ENSEMBLE RENARD + JULIAN CHAN  

12/06/22 - AND OTHER THINGS @ ST. STEPHEN’S DULWICH W/ TRITIUM TRIO

10/06/22 - STRING ARRANGEMENTS FOR MELTDOWN FESTIVAL @ ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL W/ CHINEKE! + GRACE JONES

18/05/22 - STRANGE ISABELLA @ PUSHKIN HOUSE W/ ENSEMBLE RENARD + JULIAN CHAN

05/05/22 - HOW TO SING AND PLAY THE HARP @ RAM W/ HÉLOÏSE WERNER + ESTHER BEYER

27/04/22 - BOWED BLOWED AND HIT @ RAM W/ TABEA DEBUS

22/03/22 - LURID CUPOLA MOSS @ WIGMORE HALL W/ NASH ENSEMBLE + RAM

03/03/22 - BOWED AND BLOWED @ LISTENPONY W/ EXPLORE ENSEMBLE

05/12/21 - ORCHESTRATIONS FOR BRIGHTON PHIL @ BRIGHTON DOME W/ JOANNA MACGREGOR, KATHRYN TICKELL AND AMY THATCHER [also this was my professional harmonium debut, in Grainger’s Green Bushes]

08/11/21 - DEAD HORSES @ RAM W/ LOTTE BETTS-DEAN

08/08/21 - THE DISSOLUTE SOCIETY COMPRISED OF ALL SORTS @ DARTINGTON FESTIVAL W/ JOSEPH HAVLAT

25/05/21 - MONTREAL SONGS @ NORFOLK & NORWICH FESTIVAL W/ JOSEPH HAVLAT AND LOTTE BETTS-DEAN

21/05/21 - SONATA @ BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE W/ JOSEPH HAVLAT

12/09/20 - SOMETHING PRETTY @ FIDELIO CAFE W/ OLIVIA JAGEURS AND THOMAS ANG

08/08/19 - FOR PEACE AND COUNTRY [STAGED] @ TÊTE À TÊTE FESTIVAL W/ LOTTE BETTS-DEAN, ELIAS BROWN review here

02/11/18 - SONATA @ RAM W/ JOSEPH HAVLAT

02/10/18 - FOR PEACE AND COUNTRY [UNSTAGED] @ RAM W/ LOTTE BETTS-DEAN + ME CONDUCTING

24/08/18 - HOW TO DRAW @ DARTINGTON W/ HEATH QUARTET

24/08/18 - AND OTHER THINGS @DARTINGTON W/ TRITIUM TRIO

16/11/17 - FALLING UP SONGS @ RAM W/ CHRISTINE BURAS, DAVID SHAW, JAMES GILBERT, THOMAS ANG

16/06/17 - AYBROOK STREET @ THE DITCH W/ THOMAS ANG, JACK GREED, JOSEPH HAVLAT, SHIR LEVY, ROMAN LYTWYNIW, DAVID SHAW

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