A “very gifted and accessible composer” with “a mastery of counterpoint and a richness of ideas” (MusicWeb International), Lydia Kakabadse was born in Southport, England on 2nd September 1955 and grew up in Altrincham, Cheshire. Of Russian/Georgian and Greek/Austrian parentage, Lydia started composing at the age of thirteen, writing mainly chamber and choral music. Her works include string quartets and a string duet, songs, musical dramas, a cantata, a concert Requiem Mass and choral works for mixed choir, male voices and children’s choir. Her unique distinctive style – “brilliant in respect of writing and musical ideas” (Jazz & Tzaz) – combines open triads and Gothic features with Middle Eastern traits and rich melody. An avid Latin enthusiast and greatly inspired by medieval music, Lydia has written her own texts in Latin for her choral works and also adapted sacred Latin texts. She also draws inspiration from Greek and Russian Orthodox liturgical traditions, Middle Eastern music and poets of the Romantic era.
Recent commissioned works include I Remember (choral work for children’s choir) commissioned by Forest School (Altrincham) for the Bellevue Education Northern Music Festival 2016 and Odyssey (choral work for SATB and harp) commissioned by the Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway University of London in celebration of the Hellenic Institute’s 25th anniversary in 2018.
Lydia’s choral and chamber works have been broadcast worldwide and have been played on BBC Radio 3. Her string quartet Russian Tableaux was included in BBC Radio 3’s playlist to mark International Women’s Day in March 2015 and March 2017. This work was also played at the 3rd Hildegard Festival of Women in the Arts (2015) in California. 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 was educated at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls and went on to 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 for her younger sister Juliet, is still performed in its original form. All other early compositions have either been revised, adapted or disregarded. Her earlier vocal works tend to be set to texts – some of which she has written herself – which are emotionally rich, dramatic, or contain an air of mystery, whilst her later vocal works are set to sacred Latin texts and are very much influenced by Greek & Russian Orthodox liturgical traditions.
Her first CD, entitled The Phantom Listeners – “music is so instantly appealing” (Music Web International) – was released by Naxos in May 2011. It includes The Song of the Shirt, The Mermaid (musical drama), The Phantom Listeners (cantata) as well as 2 string quartets – Russian Tableaux and Arabian Rhapsody Suite. 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.
In August 2015 Lydia completed an album of sacred/liturgical choral works – entitled Cantica Sacra – made up of Spectre of the Maiden Scorned (concert Requiem Mass), Cantica Sacra (liturgical song cycle), Kontakia (Lenten hymns)and Theotokia (Marian hymns). The liturgical song cycle Cantica Sacra was premiered in February 2014 by the Choir of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge under Dr Geoffrey Webber. The album was recorded by the Alumni of the Choir of Clare College Cambridge under Graham Ross and was released under the Divine Art label in May 2016. This “highly recommended disc” (Music for Several Instruments) has been critically acclaimed – “Lydia Kakabadse is a phenomenon and a virtual reincarnation of an early music master” (Gapplegate Classical Modern Music).
A recent album of Lydia’s chamber works – entitled Concertato – was recorded in 2016 by the chamber ensemble sound collective (renamed in 2018 The Rossetti Ensemble) and was released by Divine Art in February 2017. “This most enjoyable disc of music” (Fanfare) is made up of string quartets (The Coachman’s Terror, Dance Sketches, Cantus Planus and Recitativo Arioso + Variations), a duet for cello and double bass (Concertato) and two songs for mezzo-soprano and string quartet (Spellbound and Eldorado).
Currently, Lydia is working on a new choral work entitled The Trojan Horse, which is scored for mixed choir (SATB). The text, taken from Vergil’s Aenead Book 2, is sung in Latin. Her new choral album will include this work as well as the commissioned works I Remember and Odyssey, the latter to be premiered by The Choir of Royal Holloway in the College Chapel on 27th October 2018.
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 (LL.M distinction) and, in the past, worked as a solicitor (lawyer) to fund her many music projects.