Roxanna Panufnik : using music to bridge religious differences

Roxanna Panufnik

Roxanna Panufnik (born 24 April 1968 in London, UK) is a British composer of Polish heritage.

Since studying composition at London’s Royal Academy of Music, Roxanna’s since written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber compositions and music for film and television which are regularly performed all over the world.  Panufnik is the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Polish Catholic father, the composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik; the co-existence of religions and cultures is an essential part of her identity.

She says, “there’s so much common ground between the monotheistic faiths. Obviously there are some fundamental differences in the way we practice. But I think that too much time and energy is spent on the differences and not enough on the things that we all share. That’s what I want to do musically – to highlight those universal elements.”

Abraham is the title of Roxanna Panufnik’s violin concerto, which she wrote for Daniel Hope to play in 2005, drawing together the various musical flavors of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It was then that Panufnik began to explore an idea that has often resurfaced in her subsequent compositions: the way that music can help to smooth a path between different faiths.

Another of her choral works, Love Endureth, is a setting of Psalm 136, in which she has incorporated elements of Sephardic chant and Hebrew text.

Recent premieres include her oratorio Dance of Life (in Latin and Estonian), incorporating her fourth mass setting, for multiple Tallinn choirs and the Tallinn Philharmonic Orchestra (commissioned to mark their tenure of European Capital of Culture 2011 and recently recorded – in English – for release on Warner Classics 2014),  Four World Seasons for violinist Tasmin Little and the London Mozart Players, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, launching their Music Nation Weekend, celebrating the 2012 Olympics and Memories of my Father (2014) commissioned and recorded by the Brodsky Quartet who also gave the UK, Polish and Dutch premieres.

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