Wallen, Errollyn, versatile English composer and formidable pianist; b. Belize City, Belize, April 10,1958. After studies at Goldsmiths’ and King’s Coll., Univ. of London, where she took her masters degree, Wallen worked as a performer and composer in pop, jazz, and classical settings. She also set up her own recording studio and wrote for film, television, and radio. She wrote and presented The Music Machine, a youth program for BBC Radio 3 (April 1994), and also contributed to Backtracks, a series for London’s Channel 4 about music composition for film. She formed Ensemble X, comprised of players from pop, jazz, and classical worlds, to perform her music. Her music has been recorded and broadcast throughout Europe, Africa, and Australia. Wallen has worked with a variety of artists across genres, including Courtney Pine, Juliet Roberts, Peter Gabriel, and Claudia Brücken. Her output ranges from large orchestral works to choral compositions and string quartets, from ballets and operas to pop songs. Among her remarkably eclectic compositions are In our Lifetime (1992), a ballet in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, choreographed by Christopher Bruce for London’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, Waiting, a ballet (1993), Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (1994, a BBC commission), LOOK! NO HANDS!, opera (1996), to a libretto by Cindy Owens, presented at the Nottingham Concert Series in a program devoted entirely to her work, Hunger (1997), a large-scale instrumental work, and Meet Me at Harold Moore’s (1998), her first impeccably produced solo album. Other works include Music for Alien Tribes for Voice, Violin, Electric Keyboard, and Tape (1996; in collaboration with Gerald Simpson), Never Ending for Voice and Piano (1997); One Week Short of a Valentine for Mezzo-soprano, Flute, Cello, Piano, and Double Bass (1997); The Devil and the Doctor for Voice, Strings, and Piano (1997); Benediction for Women’s Chorus (1998); Oil for Voice, Electronics, and Electric Bass (1998); The Warm and The Cold for Baritone and Piano, after Ted Hughes (1998); and Courtly Love for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1998).
—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire