Gavin Luke is a pianist and composer, whose works caused a viral explosion on social media. In 2016, he totaled over 25 million plays on Spotify, after releasing four albums and two singles. Followed by further releases in 2017 and 2018, his music has now been heard several billion times on YouTube. The writer has split his time between composing his own pieces and composing music for visual media since 2010.
In Search of Home, Gavin’s latest track, was recorded in a very particular way. His piano’s own felt, used to soften the sound, was too thick to create desired effect. So, Gavin bought his own, thinner custom felt, which was placed between the hammers and the keys to create a softer, more intimate and delicate sound. This was said to reflect “a longing or a sense of wanting to belong, to feel loved, or to feel at peace”.
Jasper’s Riddle is a new musical concept from Lukas Zeickner, a Manchester based medical student, who calls this project his ‘acoustic storybook’. After beginning his studies to become a brain surgeon, and switching to his current vocation, that of a heart surgeon, Jasper’s Riddle’s debut release reflects an artist’s own chameleon-like ability to shift between a multitude of artistic talents – an acoustic singer-songwriter, a classical composer, an artist and a novelist, to produce ‘The River‘ – a collection of self contained stories that combine to make his storybook.
“I would say the most interesting aspect is the versatility. All of my songs are quite different and you never know what to expect next. This applies to my classical music as well.” – Jasper’s Riddle
Influenced by beacons of talent from across the world, from Aretha Franklin to Fela Kuti to Estas Tonne, and an overarching love of Schubert, his fascination for science as well as the Arts has led to Lukas performing and producing all his own music, not to mention creating the accompanying artwork.
“I see art as simply one thing in itself – free and ever changing. There’s no difference whether its music, or a drawing, or a poem.” – Jasper’s Riddle
One of his earliest recollections is learning lessons in the ‘freedom of expression’. Growing up, he mentions that he never really understood the notion of music genres and as a result he ended up listening to anything and everything.The most immediate comparison would be that of a Jeff Buckley inspired sound (watch his cover of ‘Grace‘ here). He describes his sound as acoustic rock, with influences from neo-soul and blues to progressive rock and flamenco. With his heritage stemming from Nigeria, he feels a strong connection with his Nigerian-British heritage and sings songs in Edo as well as English, and also Spanish as a third language.
As a 22 year old classical composer and multi-instrumentalist (pianist/ guitar and singer), Jasper’s Riddle offers something really interesting in the way that people can engage with the music. The concept originates from a love of Schubert’s Lieders, which he describes as ‘truly beautiful’, through the way in which he would incorporate aspects of the story/poem into the song itself. An example of this in ‘The River‘ there are multiple moments where the guitar finger-picking imitates the sound of waves and rushing water, and also his classical piece ‘Jack in the Box’ also features an intro piano passage which imitates the sound of a jack in the box toy.
Topical themes are often a good source of inspiration due to the immediate emotional connection you establish with your audience. For Neo-Classical composer Toni Castells, it was the work set out by former MP Jo Cox’s Commission of Loneliness (which divulged that more than 9 million people are affected by loneliness in the UK alone) that has inspired his latest release ‘HHUMANN X‘.
While initial innovation came largely from his teachers at music school, Castells’ overall sound was developed from a foundation of classical training combined with an inventive use of modern technology to produce a mixture of dreamy, cinematic and poetic soundscapes.
His music has since been described as “Morricone meets Satie” by Michael Haas, producer of prize-winning recordings with major classical artists including Zubin Mehta, Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim, Cecilia Bartoli and Luciano Pavarotti.
With this album’s themes centred around the subject of a paradox that highlights a growing social isolation in times of technological hyper-connectedness, the premier performance at LSO St Luke’s in Barbican (20th October) is also set to feature More Than Just a Choir – a community choir based in North London that works with people suffering from mental illness and social isolation.
The choir will appear towards the end of the piece and they’ll be unknowingly sitting amongst the audience before their entry. This staging metaphor is designed to strengthen the idea that isolation and mental illness are invisible to most of us.