Julia Usher Recordings
Julia Usher acknowledges an early obsession with Shakespeare, which shaped her instinct tointerweave words and metaphors with musical themes and images. Her work was most strongly influenced by her experiences at York University, where radical forms and experiments in sound and soundscape were constantly pursued,often through improvisation. She met Robert Sherlaw Johnson there, with whom she later studied. Her work Before Light Ends (MSV 92066) is a tribute to his memory.
Julia was a founder member of Women in Music in 1987, and in 2002 was among their first composers commissioned to write a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for the WIM Millennium Project. In 1980 she set up the composer-publishing firm Primavera with Welsh composer Enid Luff. She has written many of her own poetic texts – from Ordnance Survey and Handbook to the large scale music theatre piece The Oxford Merman which was produced and conducted by Michael Finnissy.
Other ensembles and performers with whom she has worked closely include Sounds Positive, the New London Wind Ensemble, the Nash Ensemble, E2K, Ivor Bolton and Inter Artes. While living in London, up to 1998, Julia collaborated in cross-arts projects with the sound sculptor and painter Derek Shiel. She wrote and co-produced Unfinished Business, involving live electronics with Shiel’s sound sculptures, and between 1995 and 1998 they created the live art improvisation performance piece SoundPaint, taking it to several venues.
More recent works, including the Whitman settings Vocalism and When I Saw the Learned Astronomer, were written for Niiki Bloomfield. These pieces first involved improvisation sessions with the performer, material from which was then further developed during later stages of composition.
Since 2001, Julia Usher has been involved in developing works within community aerts projects in North Essex. She has found new collaborative pathways opening up as a result of outreach training by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields – for three years the Orchestra in Residence in Colchester. Julia works as Composer in Residence with the Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra.