“…Smith’s compositions incorporate medieval textures and chant, which are reflected and inflected through [his] own contemporary idiom, blurring the modal clarity of plainchant with vivid cluster-chords and dissenting moments of chromatic or dissonant color. The effect is at once familiar and unsettling in its strangeness – a distorted and original viewpoint on the past.»

© Alexandra Coghlan

What the press says:

“Soir, dit-elle” (ECM New Series 1869)

Andrew Smith (…) does something almost unbelievable – he gives us pieces that unmistakably use modern harmonies, but, like the medieval music, sound impersonal; despite its intensity, his work seems free of any postmedieval striving for personal expression.

Greg Sandow, The Wall Street Journal

 

Carnegie/Weill Recital Hall, December 2005

The trio also sang three pieces by English/Norwegian composer Andrew Smith: «Ave Maria,» «Regina Caeli,» and «Ave Maris Stella.» These combined attractive melodies, strongly gestural rhythms, and deliciously pungent harmonies.

Christian Carey, Copper Press

 

”I Sing the Birth” (Avie AV2141, 2007)

Other highlights include the opening number, Andrew Smith’s ravishing recent setting of Veni Redemptor gentium, which begins with the chant but, almost before you realize what’s happening, transforms to a marvelous harmonic texture that ingeniously mixes ancient and new.

David Vernier, Classics Today.com

 

”Tudor City” (Avie AV2186, 2010)

The project is further linked to the 21st century through the inclusion of four pieces by composer Andrew Smith (b. 1970). His music is in a similar sonic vein to these Tudor composers, but he exploits the luxury of his extended contemporary palette – stretching the textures and sonorities in new and fascinating ways – while remaining interestingly ingrained in the overall sound world of five centuries hence.

Thom Mariner, Express Cincinatti

 

“Requiem” (UK tour 2013, with Choralia, Arve Henriksen, Ståle Storløkken)

It unfolds as a continuum of fluctuating textures and shaded emotions in which anger is tempered by resilience and grief. (…) Occasionally, dense-textured synthesizers would sweep like an ominous wind, diatonic harmonies would tense with atonal ambiguities or trumpet would enter at an angle. For the most part, though, Smith’s work was infused with the purity of Henriksen’s trumpet and the voices of the choir.

Mike Hobart, Financial Times

 

The deliberately-jarring tension between the harsh electronics and the human warmth of voices came together in the hope and sadness of Dominus Pascit Me. The beautifully-layered part-music was a high point but even that was swept aside by the Sanctus, a triumphant performance of brilliant composition where the voices asserted angry bitterness, the electronics melted and Henriksen added an unearthly vocal wailing that brought the unutterable tragedy to the room with breathtaking perfection.

Tony Benjamin, The Bristol Post

 

”Mary Star of the Sea (Gothic Voices, Linn Records CKD 541, 2016)
[…] Gothic Voices […] present a programme of Marian solo and ensemble pieces from the medieval period spliced with works by Joanne Metcalfe and Andrew Smith. It’s fascinating how Smith picks up on the harmonic DNA of those ancient pieces while tapping a different harmonic language; the disc’s highlight comes when his setting of Stond wel, Moder under rode follows the anonymous 13th-century setting of the same text, each piece supercharged with the ensemble’s raw, intense but poetic style founded on the very basics of vocal communication.

Andrew Mellor, Gramophone

Biography

Andrew Smith (b. 1970) is a British-Norwegian composer with a growing international reputation for choral and vocal music that links tradition with a contemporary idiom. In the words of Alexandra Coghlan, “…Smith’s compositions incorporate medieval textures and chant, which are reflected and inflected through [his] own contemporary idiom, blurring the modal clarity of plainchant with vivid cluster-chords and dissenting moments of chromatic or dissonant color. The effect is at once familiar and unsettling in its strangeness – a distorted and original viewpoint on the past.»

Andrew read music and English at the University of Oslo. His composing, a hobby since the age of eight, began in earnest in the late 1990s when he wrote a piece for the newly-formed Trio Mediaeval (Norway). The subsequent recording of this and other music for the Trio brought Andrew to the attention of the American audience and led the way to collaborations with American groups such as New York Polyphony (two of whose discs, to which Andrew contributed pieces, were nominated for Grammy awards) and The Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral, as well as many performances by American ensembles.

In 2015 Andrew was commissioned to write a piece for the leading English early music ensemble Gothic Voices; of his setting of “Stond wel, Moder, under rode”, Andrew Mellor writes in Gramophone: “It’s fascinating how Smith picks up on the harmonic DNA of those ancient pieces while tapping a different harmonic language; the disc’s highlight comes when his setting of Stond wel, Moder under rode follows the anonymous 13th-century setting of the same text, each piece supercharged with the ensemble’s raw, intense but poetic style founded on the very basics of vocal communication.”

Andrew’s “Requiem”, composed for the Nidaros Girls’ Choir in response to the tragic events in Norway in July 2011, premiered in Trondheim in 2012 and made a three-stop tour of the UK in 2013 featuring the prize-winning Wells Cathedral School Choralia (cond. Christopher Finch) and Norwegian jazz musicians Arve Henriksen (trumpet) and Ståle Storløkken (keyboards). Andrew has been commissioned and performed by numerous Norwegian choirs including most recently the Norwegian Girls Choir, and Oslo Cathedral Choir, who performed a specially commissioned piece in a nationally televised church service on 29 August 2018 to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of the king and queen of Norway.

“…Smith’s compositions incorporate medieval textures and chant, which are reflected and inflected through [his] own contemporary idiom, blurring the modal clarity of plainchant with vivid cluster-chords and dissenting moments of chromatic or dissonant color. The effect is at once familiar and unsettling in its strangeness – a distorted and original viewpoint on the past.»

© Alexandra Coghlan