Sorana Santos is a Hispanic multi-instrumentalist, composer and writer based in London. Her music and writing bring together elements of the contemporary music, jazz, and songwriting traditions to produce works that illustrate the inextricable links between music and language.
Her diverse composition portfolio includes commissions from the BBC and The Rose Theatre, Southbank, arrangements for Polydor, and Kingsize Records, and awards for innovation from The Millennium Commission and Global Game Jam.
As a performer, Sorana replaced Florence Welch in her breakthrough band, Ashok managed by Jack Steven (Jamiroquai/Annie Lennox), featured in sessions for Polydor, Northstar Music, Playstation, collaborated with DJ’s Buddy Peace and dub duo Mobius Strip, and performed at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Royal Albert Hall, The Southbank Centre, Jazzlines, OCM, and The Vortex.
Sorana has led a variety of ensembles in presenting her work as a performer and composer ranging from the experimental rock and jazz quartets of her teenage years, leading and composing for her 30-piece orchestra The K Project, singing alongside her own string quartet, and producing ambient re-mixes of her work for strings, electronics and voice, to the scaled-down rhythm sections of her blues-influenced Lyrebird with Dave Smith and Chris Lane, the In Idyll album featuring Phil Cornwell, Simon Little and Dave de Rose, and 2015’s album/book Our Lady of Stars / Books of Hours which she toured with Conor Chaplin, James Maddren and Joe Wright with an award from Arts Council England. Sorana also performs Portugal’s poemas cantadas, Fado, and other styles of Hispanic folk songs.
2016 sees Sorana honour the 40th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira with a recreation of the road trip Mitchell took from Maine to LA (on which most of the album was written) followed by a release of re-imaginings of Hejira.
Lazy Gramophone Press published and promoted Sorana’s poetry and prose since Sorana became a finalist in the International Poetry Competition in 2006, and her articles on music and language in society have been featured in The Guardian, The Wire, Music Think Tank, Agenda Poetry Journal and former underground cult magazine, Dogma.
Beginning her creative practice training in ballet, Sorana decided to focus on music, studying piano, cello, guitar, and voice, and gained a first degree from The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, owing much of her style to the support and encouragement of Diana Burrell, Lynda Richardson, Penelope Appleton-Burton and Eve Macateer.
She is a Visiting Lecturer at both Oxford University and at London’s Centre for Young Musicians (a division of The Guildhall) - her former pupils being Grammy nominee Jaxx Jones and MOBO winner Shakka Philip - and is also a Practice-Based Researcher in structural developments in Jazz songwriting at Royal Holloway.
Our Lady of Stars | Book of Hours forms a multimedia work exploring the relationship between the written and audible languages of music and literature. This relationship has been much researched in the evolutionary, cognitive, developmental, ethnomusicological and neurolinguistic fields who have all found irrefutable evidence of an inextricable link between the two, and has similarly been explored artistically by composers such as Steve Reich in Different Trains.
In this exploration, the album and scores for Our Lady of Stars corresponds to and forms a parallel with the poems and audiobook The Book of Hours and Changes. As such, the scores are as important a part of the musical work as the music itself, since they expose the aleatoric and atypical structures that are inherently inaudible in the work itself. Similarly, the audiobook is as important a part of Book of Hours and Changes as the printed poems themselves, since it highlights the difference between poems for the page and performance poetry.
However, the relationship between music and language is not explored via text-setting the poems as songs. Instead, the album Our Lady of Stars and the poetry in The Book of Hours and Changes are structurally interlinked - reorganising seven miniature songs and poems to produce fourteen compositions based on the techniques behind the works of composers such as Stockhausen, Schaeffer, Xenakis, Reich, Varese, Ives and Iyer - all of which are all directly referenced in the construction of the songs themselves and presented in a manner that brings together elements of the Jazz, Contemporary Music, Noise Music, and Singer-Songwriter traditions.
In addition to the arrangements for strings, voices, piano, disklavier, prepared piano, and prepared guitar, which the composer performs themselves, the album also features contributions from: jazz drummer James Maddren; saxophonist, noise musician and free improviser Joe Wright; trumpeter, noise musician and free improviser Alex Bonney; and the contemporary classical Ligeti Quartet.
The structural experiments in songs based on the Fibonacci series, isorhythms, phasing techniques, and tone rows – which exposed via the scores and poems of Our Lady of Stars and The Books of Hours and Changes - are hidden both lyrically and poetically behind the stories of medial women, who neither exist in this world nor in the spirit realm, but instead construct their reality on communicating between the two.