British born Lydia Kakabadse “is a phenomenon” (Gapplegate Classical Modern Music). A “very gifted and accessible composer” (MusicWeb International), Lydia composes 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/secular choral works for male voices, mixed choir (SATB) and children’s choir. Demonstrating “a mastery of counterpoint and a richness of ideas“ (MusicWeb International), her distinctive style incorporates tonal and modal harmonies with Middle Eastern and medieval traits, infused with rich melody. An avid Latin enthusiast, Lydia has written original texts in Latin for her vocal works. She also draws inspiration from poets of the Romantic era as well as from Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox liturgical music – “Kakabadse’s talent at writing in the Greek Orthodox music style is supreme” (Tamvakos Archive). She has been included as a Greek heritage classical composer in the “Archive of Classical Greek Composers”.
Lydia’s works have been released on CD under the Naxos and Divine Art labels to critical acclaim: “highly recommended disc” (Music for Several Instruments); “most enjoyable disc of music” (Fanfare); “superb…one of the best CD’s of the decade” (Tamvakos Archive); “a must-have CD” (The Chronicle). Her works have been widely performed and broadcast and her popular string quartet Russian Tableaux has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 to mark International Women’s Day. This string quartet was also played at the 3rd Hildegard Festival of Women in the Arts 2015 in California.
Choral commissions include I Remember commissioned by Forest Preparatory School (Altrincham) for the Bellevue Education Northern Music Festival 2016 and the “stunning and ambitious Odyssey ” (New Classics) commissioned by the Hellenic Institute at Royal Holloway University of London to mark its 25th anniversary in 2018. Both these works feature in Lydia’s choral/vocal album, Ithaka, released by Divine Art in 2019. To mark its 30th anniversary, the Hellenic Institute has also commissioned Lydia to write a new choral work , Thirty Steps, which was premiered in October 2023. This work will be included in her recently completed new album, Kefi, which features a more diverse genre of music than her previous albums, incorporating ethnic instruments into western music. Kefi was recorded in November 2023 for release by Divine Art.
Beginning piano lessons at the age of five and later studying the double bass under Ida Carroll OBE, Lydia read music at Royal Holloway University of London, where her main tutors included Rosamond McGuinness, Brian Dennis, Erik Levi and Ian Spink. She then spent several years studying and performing Greek and Middle Eastern dance, which she also taught at adult education centres. Rhythmic and melodic influences from these dances feature predominantly in her chamber music, most notably the “gorgeous Arabian Rhapsody Suite ” (New Classics) – “its rhythms and phrasing evoked the exotic sounds of Marrakesh” (Eastern Daily Press). Lydia is currently undertaking a PhD in ethnomusicology at Royal Holloway.
Of her early compositions, only The Song of the Shirt (for soprano and piano) “a little masterpiece” (Jazz & Tzaz), written when she was 15, is performed in its original form. All other early compositions have either been revised, adapted or disregarded. Keen to promote the double bass in her chamber works, Lydia’s string quartets are scored for violin, viola, cello & 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.
Several of her works have been included in music festivals both in the UK and abroad, more recently in the Three Choirs Festival Eucharist (2019) and Chatsworth Arts Festival (2019). Excerpts from her choral album Cantica Sacra were included in a dance act on TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” in May 2020. Her works have been performed at numerous UK concert halls, cathedrals, churches and chapels by acclaimed chamber ensembles and choirs, including The Rossetti Ensemble, the Choir of Gloucester Cathedral and the collegiate Choirs of Gonville & Caius College Cambridge, Clare College Cambridge and Royal Holloway.
In recent years, Lydia has written the following articles, published by the US Journal of the IAWM (International Alliance for Women in Music) : “Status of Female Musicians in Ancient Greek Society” (vol 28, no 1, 2022); CD review of Hilary Tann’s choral work “Exultet Terra” (vol 23, no 2, 2017); CD review of Rhona Clarke’s choral work “Sempiternam” (vol 28, no 3, 2022).
Lydia has a keen interest in law, in which subject she holds a master’s degree and, in the past, worked as a solicitor (lawyer) to fund her many music projects.
I Remember is published by Banks Music Publications. Variation on a theme by Diabelli is published by Furore Verlag. Lydia’s chamber and vocal works are published by Naxos Sheet Music Publishing : https://publishing.naxos.com/collections/lydia-kakabadse