Esther Abrami and HER Ensemble play Angela Morley’s heavenly ‘Rêverie’ in celebration of Pride Month
8 June 2023, 16:45
Esther Abrami plays Angela Morley’s romantic 'Rêverie' with HER Ensemble | Classic FM
A romantic ‘Rêverie’, by a long under-recognised composer hailed by John Williams as “one of the finest musicians I’ve ever known”. Here’s to Angela Morley...
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The late composer, who specialised in music for the screen, was also the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar in 1977.
Composed in 2004, the ‘Rêverie’ was written for solo violin and piano or strings. Listen to the emotion-fuelled performance below.
The HER Ensemble has been performing Morley’s Rêverie since early on in the group’s inception. The ensemble is a free-form string group, founded in 2021, that aims to make a positive impact on the gender gap and gender stereotypes in the music industry.
Founder Ellie Consta, one of Classic FM’s 30 under 30 Rising Stars in 2023, admitted she only discovered the composer after spending “hours researching music on Google”. And Consta wasn’t the only one.
“The first time I heard of Angela Morley,” Esther Abrami told Classic FM, “Was when I came to hear the HER ensemble for the first time. They were playing Morley’s ‘Rêverie’ and I fell in love with the piece.
“But when I went on Spotify to try and find it, there was only one recording, which had around 7,000 streams. I thought, ‘We need to change that’.”
After Abrami released her own recording with the HER Ensemble their ‘Reverie’ performance, which was arranged by Consta, garnered over one million streams on Amazon Music and hundreds of thousands of others across Spotify and YouTube.
“I’m just really happy to have that trans representation in the industry,” Consta told Classic FM. “For people who don’t see themselves in the industry.”
Composing the Rêverie
Writing on the origins of the Rêverie, Morley revealed in her own words that she had never been too happy with the title.
“Violinists, not surprisingly, play it too dreamily,” she wrote on her personal website. “I think ‘Romance’ would have been better but my friends make a face.”
The Rêverie makes up a suite of pieces Morley wrote for a solo instrument, and piano or strings. While the pieces are often sold or performed as three separate works, ‘The Liaison’ (for cello), ‘Rêverie’ (for violin), and ‘Valse Bleue’ (for flute), Morley wrote she would “always think of them as a suite”.
Listen to ‘The Liaison’, a work for solo cello and strings below, to hear how the Rêverie would’ve been preceded in Morley’s mind.
The Liason - for Cello and Strings - Composed by Angela Morley
A pioneering musician of the LGBTQ+ community
Morley was a multi-Emmy Award-winning composer, and adding to her list of achievements was also the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar (in any category).
She received two Academy Award nominations in her lifetime, both in the category of Best Original Song Score; first for The Little Prince (1974), and second for The Slipper and the Rose: The Cinderella Story (1978), which she shared with the Sherman Brothers.
Despite being on the composition team for both, she was only credited as a conductor and arranger for both awards.
Almost 40 years after Morley’s win for The Slipper and the Rose: The Cinderella Story, director Yance Ford became the first openly transgender man to be nominated for an Academy Award in 2017.
An artist ahead of her time, it is clear that Morley never received the full recognition she deserved during her lifetime. Film composer John Williams paid tribute to her after her death in 2009, saying, “Angela Morley was a respected colleague and valued friend for over forty years. She was certainly one of the finest musicians I’ve ever known or worked with.”
“As an orchestrator,” Williams continued, “Her skill was unsurpassed, with a technical perfection that was drawn on and nourished by a lifelong devotion to music.”