New Lyric composer returns to her roots to inspire young people

Hammersmith & Fulham’s vibrant music scene is set for a boost after west London composer Kate Marlais has been appointed to the Lyric Hammersmith for a year-long residency beginning in March.

Kate plans to take inspiration from the diversity and historical significance of the borough and use the creative process to engage with the local community.

“West London is a beautiful, diverse and vibrant area, and there’s a lot of musical history here, too,” explained Kate. She grew up in Kew and spent much of her youth in the borough enjoying soaking up music at the Apollo and Bush Hall, as well as exploring spots like Shepherds Bush Market and Ravenscourt Park. 

“I’d like to celebrate the multifarious nature and cultures of the surrounding neighbourhoods in the music I write,” she added. “I'm really looking forward to creating music that directly involves young people who are local to the area, finding out what music excites them, and writing music for them that will reflect that.”

Kate is the fifth – and final – composer to be awarded a residency under a scheme launched by the Cameron Mackintosh Foundation.

The foundation aims to promote dramatic arts through funding from its namesake Cameron Mackintosh, the theatre producer behind Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

“Some of the first shows that I saw as a kid were at the Lyric,” added Kate, who also name checks the Bush Theatre as a great destination for ‘a bit of drama’.

“Since then, I’ve seen many Lyric productions, and it’s been great to watch the work, the building, and its artistic impact on the surrounding community, evolve over the years,” Kate said. 


Frantic Assembly’s production of Fatherland

The composer – who trained at King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music – has already spent some time working at the Lyric when she assisted on Frantic Assembly’s production Fatherland before the production featured at the Manchester International Festival.

Fatherland is now set to appear at the Lyric from 25 May and is just one of the productions to which Kate will add her creative spark during her residency.

“Working in the Lyric building, it’s clear that there’s a buzz running through it,” she said. “Every corner vibrates with excited conversations of young people, parents and children, theatre lovers – who are all here to create something or involve themselves in the arts.”

Kate also hopes that her work with young people will help inspire others to follow their passions. “When I was younger, there were very few female role models in the world of theatre composition,” explained Kate.

“There’s still not enough getting a platform nowadays in my opinion, but I hope that one day I might be a role model for someone who might want to pursue this career. Composing, or any role within the music industry, is pretty cut-throat, so stay focused on what you want to achieve. 

“Listen to as much music as you can, work out what you like, what you don’t like, and try to find where your musical voice sits best. Then hone it, develop it, nurture it.”

The Lyric’s artistic director Sean Holmes said he was ‘delighted’ that Kate would be joining the theatre as the Cameron Mackintosh resident composer in 2018. “We look forward to her creative response to the exciting range of work that awaits her here at the Lyric,” he added.

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