Royal Philharmonic Society Prize-winning composer and singer Stef Conner (b. 1983) draws new musical materials from ancient poetry and oral singing traditions, to forge empathetic connections between the modern world and the distant past.
In her work as a choral director, researcher and composer, she uses music as a means to create emotional connections between people separated by time, space and social situation, inspiring empathy with voices from the past, sharing knowledge, reviving musical traditions through original research and community projects, and drawing new music out of ancient words.
Stef graduated with a starred First in Music from the University of York in 2005, before joining the Mercury Prize-nominated Northumbrian folk band The Unthanks and performing at such venues as the Barbican, Covent Garden, Glastonbury, Womad and the BBC Folk Awards, and supporting artists like Adele, Ben Folds and Billy Bragg. The group’s raw yet delicate approach to musical storytelling made a deep impact on her style. In 2009, she returned to York to complete a PhD in composition with Bill Brooks, developing creative responses to questions concerning the relationship between music and language. Performers of her work include The Esoterics, The Renaissance Singers, Queens’ College Choir, Dark Inventions, The Kreutzer Quartet, Juice, John Potter, The Nieuw Ensemble and The Philharmonia Orchestra. Two of her pieces premiered at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and she has received performances in York Minster, Waltham Abbey, the Royal Festival Hall, Peterborough Cathedral, Queen's College (Cambridge), and Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, as well as numerous broadcasts on BBC radio.
Stef performs currently with The Lyre Ensemble, whose debut CD ‘The Flood’ has received nearly a million online listens since its release in December 2014,, and is Composer in Residence with Streetwise Opera, a charity that uses music to help homeless people make positive changes in their lives. In 2014, she was named, in the ‘Music-Makers’ category, as one of the Evening Standard’s ‘1000 Most Influential Londoners’.