Artist in Residence (2020): Sonia Allori – ‘Curious-er’

Sonia Allori was one of the DM Artists in Residence for 2020/21. During a 10 month period the AiRs are embedded in Drake Music, working as part of the team, sharing and developing their practice and creating a new piece of work for their final project.

Sonia holds two glasses up to her face, like eyes

Artist in Residence final project

Sonia’s final project ‘Curious-er’ is a a new electro-acoustic movement for EWI, which in the future may be developed as a full concerto.

Sonia explains: “Slowly during the residency with Drake Music little experiments and flirtations with process led to the development of “Curious-er”, a new electro-acoustic work for EWI. It started with a photo my partner sent me of a shell on a beach whose reflection in the sunlight created the effect of 2 little ears. This led to writing a short stanza which subtly alludes to my being deaf and disabled. It is stated simply near the beginning of the work:

‘What can you hear when you see the sea?
Nothing now but remembered sounds.

Wheels cut trails through velvet sand,
Deeper and deeper making narrow bands.

You chance upon a shell,
Casting shadows like ears,
In the afternoon sun’.” 

A gleaming glass pyramid shines with yellows and pinks on a deep purple to blue background.This new piece for the Electronic Wind Instrument made its debut in winter 2020 at DM On The AiR ,  a micro-festival to celebrate the DM Artists in Residence with a feast of new music and R&D performances.

Via a Zoom presentation Sonia let us into her story and her experience over the past year during lockdown, and of the experience of hearing loss as a musician.

We were then treated to the first public sharing of ‘Curious-er’, which we will feature below.

There is a very little music composed or written specifically for accessible musical instruments and technology, so this piece is ground-breaking both in sound and in the action of adding works for the EWI to the canon.

About Sonia Allori

Sonia is a composer, performer, researcher and community music therapist. Some of her recent commissions are:

  • Drake Music Scotland & PRS – Lost & found (2017/18)
  • Sound Festival – Fall from grace (2017)
  • Drake Music & DadaFest – Last tango in Liverpool (2018)
  • Exploding Collage/Hatton Gallery – Memorial to an important lace shirt (2018)
  • Concentric Circles (2019) – for BSL performer, clarinet & piano

Sonia says: “I’m inspired by things and places and people, by nature and new technology, by weaving together words and sounds and creating something from what I experience. I’m an observer by nature and I notice lots of little facets and glimpses which feed into the music I write.

You can describe me in one word, that is, as a musician. I work in different ways within music but at the heart of all of it is the identity of being a musician that has carried me through school years into adulthood and now a professional career. 

The last few years have been kind in terms of the work and commissions I’ve been involved with. In 2019 I had a particularly fruitful year as a performer being a part of sensory theatre production “Sound Symphony” (Oily Cart/ Independent Arts Projects) which toured small intimate venues in Scotland. I finished 2019 playing clarinet and EWI (electronic wind instrument) in joint Candoco/ Royal Opera House production of “The Lost Thing”.

Being one of Drake Music’s Artists in Residence in 2020 proved to be a sustaining and nurturing force during what was an exceptionally difficult year for everyone. With supported time and space, it was an opportunity to take stock and to deepen insights into my own creative process while most live arts performance was cancelled, and projects stalled.”

About ‘Curious-er’

‘Curious-er’ is a new movement composed specifically for the EWI.

It announces itself confidently with a single note, then leads the listener deeper, the poetic stanza and gradual introduction of glitchy electronic and atmospheric sounds inviting us to listen differently.

Throughout the work the EWI is heard in several sonic guises repeating the same 4 note melodic fragment. Sometimes sounding like a clarinet or a sax and at others an 80’s synth. The fragment weaves it’s way throughout, creating complex and nuanced layers of electronica while at the bass of the texture the words are repeated with pitch deepened and tempo slowed down.

‘Curious-er’ never settles and is by turns eerie, unsettling, mysterious and hopeful. It ends with a cliff-hanger, leaving the possibility of Sonia developing the work further into a full concerto, or else for it to just exist as a single movement.


This project, along with the other AiR productions, is a work-in-progress which the artist is looking to develop further with an appropriate organisation.

If you would like to partner on developing this project further, please contact Drake Music or get in touch with the artist directly.

The DM Artist in Residence programme is supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation logo

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