"Louis Mander’s score is attractive and interesting. He writes sympathetically for the voices - I could hear every word of the text - using quite sparse but imaginative textures which make copious use of string pizzicato and harp, and the score offers beguiling melodies for the woodwind. There are no superficial musical exoticisms but timpani, percussion, celeste and harmonium conjure strongly defined worlds. Conductor Jonathan Butcher ensured that these textures were precise and lucid, and his orchestra played very well for him."

Claire Seymour, Opera Today: The Life to Come, Surrey Opera, 2017

 

"Mander's music is relentless, pulling like an emotional tide on the feelings, rising and falling, swamping and leaving us high and dry and then with a final tsunami of force shocking us into silence.  Fry’s libretto, struggling with the understated shame and muttering indignity of EM Forster’s short story ‘the life to come’ which was not published until two years after Forster’s death, does it’s best to explore and express this multitude of complex emotions.

The music a lyrical flowing narrative with echoes of early Britten and Copeland which filled the space and kept the emotional core of this piece steady and relative to the sometimes complex actions on stage. Often the music underscored and emphasised the subtleties of emotion that the acting failed to adequately demonstrate, there was some superb harp and strong pizzicato work and an energetic and symbolic use of percussion which was mesmerising."

Eric Page, GScene: The Life to Come, Surrey Opera, 2017

 

"Mander’s style is very accessible. For a young composer he already has considerable experience behind him in writing for voices and instruments for performance in large spaces. While his music has its astringent moments, he is not afraid of long-breathed melodic lines or of expressive harmonic sequences that remain broadly within familiar tonal parameters. He is fully attuned to the period aesthetic of wistful regret, pastoral romance and raw anger that is present in Gurney’s own poetry and music and therefore provides very sympathetic settings of poetry that has its own internal music."

He also has a very fine ear for orchestral textures and timbres, which is almost painterly in in the way he picks out unusual combinations of instruments to provide a tautly tense or more self-consciously romantic underscore for the voice. There is clearly a debt here to Britten’s War Requiem and especially to its settings of Wilfred Owen. Janáček was lurking somewhere in the background too. However, there are moments of real individuality that transcend these influences. It is rare, for instance, to hear music for oboe, trumpet and viola that sounds so idiomatic and natural, especially when combined with sympathetic writing for the voice, which clearly sat easily within the range of the singers’ voices."

Tim Hochstrasser, LiveTheatreUk: The Fallen Solider, Belsize Opera, 2017

 

"His music has all the pace expected from a contemporary composer. Avoiding a jumble of sound, he uses well-established musical conventions, such as the use of folk music and melodies which recur to represent characters or events. Even on a first hearing this opera lies easily on the ear and enhances the telling of the story. Beowulf becomes a pleasure anyone can enjoy."

Min Wood, Salisbury Journal, Beowulf, Opera at Chilmark, 2016

"So the overall sound world is modern tonal, but accessible. I think this is an excellent way to encourage audiences to engage with new music - and Louis Mander’s Beowulf is sure to be heard many more times. Well done everyone involved with this exciting production."

Sarah Collins, Cambridge University: Beowulf, Opera at Chilmark, 2016

 

"The description of a Jazz operetta-does this gem of a piece a slight dis-service as it is in fact a wonderful pastiche/comic operetta and draws on the very best from our musical heritage.

Brilliantly crafted /scored and orchestrated-albeit with a small band- one longs to hear this score played even bigger-as it fully deserves it.

Louis Mander has created an 'homage to Sondheim's A Little Night Music, The Boyfriend" Mozart, and numerous other milestones of opera musical theatre and even Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest has a passing gesture to it's most famous line."

David Rumelle, The So & So Arts Club: The Dowager's Oyster, Belsize Opera, 2016

 

"The start is reminiscent of Britten’s Turn Of The Screw, but the piece develops its own voice, in a gathering sense of unease. Mander’s evocative quintet of inn people, Parkins and fellow guest Colonel (David Jones) is skilfully done."

Clare Colvin, The Daily Express, Tete a Tete Opera : Oh, Whistle! 2015

 

"Louis Mander's music, in fact, is one of the things that makes this production well worth seeing. Conducting an ensemble of harp, accordion and piano, Mander displayed a talent for effectively combining various musical styles.

When the accordion took the lead, I was reminded of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, while the piano and harp took it in turns to sound more like Prokofiev. All of which, unlike so many modern operas, was very good and easy to listen to."

William Hartston, The Daily Express: The Clown of God & The Ancient Mariner, The Gloucester Group, 2011

Copyright Louis Mander 2017