Nine Sisters Launch

On Thursday 25 October, Hazel Iris launched her concept album Nine Sisters at one of London’s most historic landmarks, St. Bartholomew-the-Great, Smithfield.

Hazel’s work in bringing popular music closer to theatre and classical music is refreshing and exciting.
— Shure UK

Inspired by a combination of storytelling and formats used in German Lieder cycles, Hazel tapped into her classical music background and fused together elements of Indie Alt-Folk, Classical and Jazz to bring Nine Sisters to life.  To highlight the merging of these genres, she turned the launch into a festival of arts and celebrated disciplines from Early Music to Indie and Theatre, with some of London’s most brilliant and innovative artists featuring on the bill!

The beautiful St. Bartholomew-the-Great was built in 1123 and for centuries was an important part of a vibrant community. Now, almost hidden away in the heart of the City of London, it is hauntingly awe-inspiring, yet friendly and welcoming; the perfect setting for celebrating the mystical side of the arts.

To start the evening, internationally acclaimed concert pianist Jayson Gillham (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony) and dramatic soprano Katrina Sheppeard (English National Opera, Sydney Opera House)  joined forces to perform Richard Strauss’s final and most haunting song cycle, Vier Letzte Lieder.

For the second act, (combining influences from Folk, Medieval and Middle Eastern music) Punk Baroque artist Kate Arnold performed an unplugged set on hammered dulcimer, violin and vocals in the main aisle of the church.

And for the third and final act at the foot of the altar, Hazel introduced Nine Sisters in its entirety, supported by a stellar ensemble. This was made up of classical & jazz harpist Tara Minton, jazz drummer Fred Harper, double-bassist Twm Dylan, composer/cellist Matt Constantine, classical accordionist Aine McLoughlin, violinist Aurora del Rio, guitarist Federico Accardo, and Harry Plant on trumpet.

Hazel’s opening and closing songs (A Prince and Volcano) were highlighted by bespoke performances from puppet designer Alicia Britt (Wondering Hands Puppet Theatre) and her team.  Choreographed for the entire space of the sanctuary, the faceless figures moved among the audience, creating an extra dimension of otherworldliness. 

All ten tracks from the album, which were re-arranged specifically for this event, echoed throughout the stone arches and walkways of this uniquely magnificent space in London.  

If you missed out on the launch of Nine Sisters and happen to be in the area on a Thursday, Hazel recommends dropping by for a lunchtime concert. You won’t be disappointed.

*Hazel would especially like to thank Shure UK and Coda Audio International for their inspiring role in supporting the arts. Also Kunal Singhal of Chaos Theory and his team, sound engineers Peter Junge and Ido Tavori, Clare Hannan of Hannan Images, The City Music Society, and St. Bartholomew-the-Great for their collaboration.

All photography courtesy of Hannan Images

It’s also worth noting Iris’ beautifully thought out musical arrangements throughout: they are remarkably delicate, and very subtle, often letting her vocals, and one or two other instruments, open each song before the other instruments join in…It’s a hell of a way to launch a record…
— Headliner Magazine