British born “Lydia Kakabadse is a phenomenon and a virtual reincarnation of an early music master” (Gapplegate Classical Modern Music). A “very gifted and accessible composer” (MusicWeb International), Lydia composes mainly choral, chamber and vocal music. Of Russian/Georgian and Greek/Austrian parentage, she grew up in Altrincham, Cheshire and started composing at the age of thirteen. Her works include string quartets, string duet, mixed ensembles, songs, musical drama, cantata, concert Requiem Mass and sacred (as well as secular) choral works for male voices, mixed choir (SATB) and children’s choir. Her unique distinctive style – “brilliant in respect of writing and musical ideas” (Jazz & Tzaz) – incorporates tonal and modal harmonies with Middle Eastern traits and rich melody. An avid Latin enthusiast and inspired by medieval music, Lydia has written original texts in Latin for her vocal works. She also draws inspiration from Greek and Russian Orthodox liturgical traditions as well as from poets of the Romantic era.
Recently commissioned choral works include I Remember and Odyssey. I Remember (for children’s choir with piano and violin accompaniment) was commissioned by Forest School (Altrincham) for the Bellevue Education Northern Music Festival 2016 and premiered at the Festival by the choir of Forest School in April 2016. Odyssey, which was commissioned by the Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway University of London in celebration of its 25th anniversary in 2018, was premiered by The Choir of Royal Holloway in October 2018 in the College Chapel.
Lydia’s works have been released on CD under the Naxos and Divine Art labels and have been broadcast worldwide. BBC Radio 3 included her string quartet Russian Tableaux in its playlist to mark International Women’s Day in March 2015 and 2017 and this quartet was also played at the 3rd Hildegard Festival of Women in the Arts (2015) in California. All Lydia’s string quartets are scored for violin, viola, cello and double bass – a timbral combination which works well – with the double bass adding a great richness and abundance of colour to the quartet’s sonority.
Her compositions have been performed by acclaimed chamber ensembles and choirs, including The Rossetti Ensemble and the choirs of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge, Clare College Cambridge and Royal Holloway. Lydia’s works have been performed at numerous venues, including St John’s Smith Square London, Grosvenor House London, Ely Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, Royal Northern College of Music and various University College chapels.
Beginning piano lessons at the age of five and later studying the double bass under the late Ida Carroll OBE, Lydia read music at Royal Holloway University of London. She then spent several years studying and teaching Greek and Middle Eastern dancing, the rhythmic and melodic features of which permeate her creative writing. This is evidenced in a number of her works, most notably the Arabian Rhapsody Suite – “its rhythms and phrasing evoked the exotic sounds of Marrakesh” (Eastern Daily Press).
Of Lydia’s early compositions, only The Song of the Shirt (for soprano and piano) “a little masterpiece” (Jazz & Tzaz), written when she was 15, has been performed and recorded in its original form. All other early compositions have either been revised, adapted or disregarded.
Lydia’s first CD, The Phantom Listeners, was released by Naxos in 2011. Made up of chamber and vocal works (including a musical drama, a cantata, two string quartets – Russian Tableaux and Arabian Rhapsody Suite, as well as The Song of the Shirt) its “music is so instantly appealing” (Music Web International).
In 2015 Lydia completed an album of sacred/liturgical choral works, Cantica Sacra, which was recorded by the Alumni of the Choir of Clare College Cambridge under Graham Ross and released on CD by Divine Art the following year. This “highly recommended disc” (Music for Several Instruments) has been critically acclaimed. The album is made up of a concert Requiem Mass, a liturgical song cycle, Lenten hymns and Marian hymns. The liturgical song cycle (entitled Cantica Sacra) was premiered in 2014 by the Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge directed by Dr Geoffrey Webber. Excerpts from this work will be included in the Three Choirs Festival Eucharist at Gloucester Cathedral in July 2019.
An album of Lydia’s chamber works – Concertato – recorded by The Rossetti Ensemble, was released on CD by Divine Art in 2017. “This most enjoyable disc of music” (Fanfare) includes four string quartets, a duet for cello and double bass as well as two songs for mezzo-soprano with string quartet accompaniment.
A new album of Lydia’s choral and vocal works – Ithaka – was recorded in early 2019. Made up of commissioned works I Remember and Odyssey (recorded by The Choir of Royal Holloway) as well as a compilation of 9 songs for mezzo-soprano and piano, Ithaka will be released on CD by Divine Art in November 2019.
Lydia has been included as a Greek heritage classical composer in the “Archive of Classical Greek Composers”. She also holds a Master’s degree in Law (distinction) and, in the past, worked as a solicitor to fund her many music projects.