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World Premiere of Be Loved: A Passion

A passion which takes a long overdue look at the women’s stories and the ways they have often been subsumed by myth and misogyny over the centuries

Be Loved: A Passion, (composer Duncan Fraser, librettist Elspeth Murray)

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Composed specifically for St James’s Singing Scholars, featuring Emilia Bertolini & Lily Robson.

Rector at St James’s Piccadilly, The Revd Lucy Winkett said ‘we are thrilled to be presenting this world premiere which continues our mission to share often untold stories of diverse communities, in this case those of Mary, Mary Magdalene and other important women.’

Michael Haslam, Director of Music said ‘this work celebrates the enormous talent of the St James’s musicians and the potential of the building as a beacon for artistic expression.’

Proceeds from ticket sales supported a new women’s social justice project at St James’s, working with asylum seekers and refugees with no recourse to public funds.

Duncan Fraser, composer said ‘it has been a joy to work with the Scottish poet Elspeth Murray making music that takes a very fresh look at what might have happened during Holy Week for the key women involved.’

Elspeth Murray said ‘Working with Duncan Fraser to bring about Be Loved: A Passion in a relatively short timeframe has been a total delight. I am grateful to everyone at St James’s Piccadilly who has helped make it happen and all those whose untold stories have shaped the world we too easily take for granted.’


Duncan Fraser, composer – has been making up music since he couldn’t always play the notes in front of him as a twelve-year-old church organist when he had to fill those special moments with something atmospheric. He studied conducting and composition at the Royal Northern College of Music before and after reading music at Oxford.

Duncan has written much choral and organ music including evening services for Magdalen College Oxford and Liverpool Cathedral, a series of Psalm Settings including: Psalm 102 based on the Purcell anthem Hear My Prayer, Psalm 143 (for St James’s Choir and ‘cello), Psalms 142 and 150 for the Berwick Consort tour, along with a series of commissions for the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy.

He wrote a children’s opera, Let’s Play, for Leeds Youth Opera group and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Gestures a dance piece and created ‘& 1…’ a series of six programmes on the relationship between music and dance for BBC Radio 3.

Michael Haslam, conductor – has been musical director for six productions including Play Without Words and Honk! The Ugly Duckling and conducted performances of Sunday in The Park With George and Sweeney Todd for the National Theatre.

For the Donmar: Good, Habeas Corpus and Into the Woods. In the West End: musical director for La Cage Aux Folles, Cinderella at the Old Vic, La Cava, The Sneeze and Mr & Mrs Nobody.

Michael was musical director for Anna Linstrum’s production of The Secret Garden at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto; Will Tuckett’s Pleasure’s Progress at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio; and All the Angels at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Michael has been musical director for eight productions at RADA including Assassins, A Little Night Music, Company, Saturday Night, Little Women and The Beggar’s Opera.

Elspeth Murray, librettist – is an Edinburgh-based artist whose work as a librettist began in 2013 adapting Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar’s epic poem Conference of The Birds, a collaboration with composer Dee Isaacs, The University of Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.

Other projects with Isaacs include songs for children in Greek refugee camps and community music projects in Gambia including Your Life is a Work of Art a musical based around her 2009 poem of the same name. As a workplace poet in residence, she was featured in BBC Radio 4’s Blood, Sweat, Tears and Poetry.