On 5 May Faber Alt.'s Ayanna Witter-Johnson joined forces with the Ligeti Quartet, Solem Quartet, Nitin Sawhney, Héloïse Werner and a host of outstanding performers in a concert of her music at Wigmore Hall.

The programme includes the world premiere of Island Suite for solo cello, voice and the Solem Quartet, who commissioned the 19-minute piece. The piece is part of Solem Quartet’s Beethoven Bartók Now project, which takes inspiration from those two composers. 

Witter Johnson says of Island Suite, “What I took…was particularly Bartók’s affinity to Eastern European folk music. I took that to explore my relationship to Jamaican folk legacy. I don’t think I’ve written a piece like it; there’s references to Queen Nanny, folksongs, my childhood, all sorts of influences on me as an artist”. The piece interweaves passages for quartet and cello with spoken word from Witter-Johnson.

The programme also featured Witter-Johnson’s 10-minute saxophone piece Lumina Rhythm, performed by Jess Gillam, who premiered the piece last year at the Cheltenham Music Festival. The piece reflects “the breadth of Jess’ musical tastes”, says Witter-Johnson, “…an invocation of the spirit of adventure, curiosity, admiration for sound, and joy.”

More recent works for strings concluded the concert, conducted by Darren Bloom: DreamCity and Equinox, written for the LSO East London Academy. DreamCity explores “experiences of living in one of the world's most active and engaging cities, physically and culturally”.

Witter-Johnson also appears 8 and 9 June at the Southbank Centre as part of the Purcell Sessions series.