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Leo Geyer - Constella Music Interview

Interdisciplinary music company, formally known as Constella OperaBallet, will celebrate a decade of daring and visually striking work with a special anniversary event at Sadler’s Wells. Celebrating their tenth anniversary, the company will rebrand as Constella Music, a reflection of the organisation’s ever-growing repertoire encompassing the broad creative endeavors of its Artistic Director, award-winning composer and conductor Leo Geyer.

Constella Music brings diverse artistic projects to the public by engaging musicians and dancers in collaboration with visual artists, poets, historians, architects, scientists, and healthcare workers, to create new and unique work. Their new ventures for 2024 and beyond will include restoring the live cinema orchestra score for the seminal Ukrainian film Man with a Movie Camera, a television documentary about music of the Holocaust, and a collaboration with the Science Museum. Constella will also be continuing their acclaimed programme Connecting Stars, that provides live and interactive virtual performances for care home residents, which to date has resulted in over 1,500 performances nationwide.

Dedicated to providing meaningful access to the arts, Constella are proud to mark this landmark year with a night of brand-new performances, showcasing their bespoke creative ethos.

Their celebration at Sadler’s Wells will include a series of world premieres for the company, including London Portraits, an opera-ballet fused with jazz and street dance, written by Leo Geyer and choreographed by Taira Foo (Prisoner 466, The House of Lords; Carly’s Exit, The San Francisco Dance Film Festival; Don’t Give In, Snow Patrol). Geyer’s Water Boatman for double-bass will also have its first public premiere, having been featured on the BBC, and will be performed by Toby Hughes (Wigmore Hall, St-Martin-in-the-Fields, The Edinburgh Festival).

Excerpts from Constella’s new opera-ballet, the Orchestras of Auschwitz - featuring music written in concentration camps - will also be performed for the first time, a project that plays tribute to musicians murdered in Auschwitz. This will be performed by the Constella Orchestra, whose performers include Sacha Rattle (Wigmore Hall, Berlin Counterpoint, Mahler Chamber Orchestra), Ilona Suomalainen (Fiddler on the Roof, West End; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Welsh National Opera), Philippa Mo (Barbican Centre, William Alwyn Festival, Shanghai SHAOC), and Simon Wallfisch (Weihnachtsoratorium, Brighton Early Music Festival; La Bohème, Teatro Verdi; Holocaust Memorial Day, BBC Two), grandson of Auschwitz survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch.

Leo Geyer.
Ahead of the celebration on Monday 27th November I caught up with artistic director Leo Geyer.

Where did your journey with Constella Music begin?
I founded Constella aged 19, whilst still at student in Manchester. The idea then was to provide opportunities for myself and fellow students to perform in a professional orchestra outside of our studies. Over time, my musical interests took Constella into all kinds of interesting and unexpected contexts, collaborating with dancers to scientists, and gardeners to health workers. In other words, our work became much more expansive than just orchestral concerts, so we have rebranded to reflect this vision as Constella Music, encapsulating all my work as a composer, conductor and broadcaster. 
What can you tell me about this latest performance at Sadler’s Wells on November 27th?
This is a very special event, comprising entirely of my own compositions including several world premieres, including a major piece with new choreography. This kind of events don’t come round often! 
How do you approach selecting what pieces of music or dance to cover in an evening?
As this is a celebration of composition work for Constella, I am showcasing something from my three musical strands – firstly, my “earthy” music inspired by nature, and secondly my fast-paced jazz-inspired soundworld, and finally my work restoring, reimagining and rescoring preexisting music. 

How do you approach selecting the artists that perform with you on a show?
Over the last 10 years, we have developed a network of fantastic musicians and dancers, and I am delighted to be bringing many of them together for this special performance. 
What keeps you inspired as a creative?
Inspiration is everywhere. I take a lot of creative energy from my fellow performers, seeing and hearing them reaching virtuosic heights inspires me to write new music. For me personally, I cannot write music without feeling or thinking something. And that something can literally be anything – in fact one of the pieces is inspired by the tiny insect – the water boatman. 
What would you want an audience member to take away from attending the performance? 
To join us in celebrating not only our 10 year anniversary but also our new vision. I hope that audiences will be excited about our next performances and concerts, and most significantly, our new opera-ballet, the Orchestras of Auschwitz, which we will be performing excerpts from in November.

Constella Music celebration of a decade of innovative work takes place at the Lilian Baylis Studio at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre on Monday 27th November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from

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