Shiva Feshareki b.1987 is a London-born British composer with Iranian Heritage.
The music of Shiva Feshareki addresses some of the most pressing questions concerning music and culture in our time. She is a highly versatile and diverse composer whose musical output encompasses a wide spectrum of resources and influences ranging from classical, mid-20th Century experimental electronics, and electronic dance music genres such as drum n bass and jungle. Her oeuvre includes orchestral, chamber, solo instrumental and vocal music, graphically or conventionally notated compositions with memorable and sublime harmonies, and cutting-edge electronic music which pushes conventional boundaries to uncharted dimensions.
An internationally renowned composer, turntablist, and NTS Radio DJ, Feshareki was honoured with the 2017 British Composer Award for Innovation from The Ivors Academy, the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize (2009), as well as the BBC Young Composer’s Award (2004) with her first scored composition. A host of stunning performances followed including most recently at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (VAC), BBC Proms, London Jazz
Festival, and as Featured Artist at Spitalfields Festival. Other recent highlights include Saturnalia at Macao (Milan), Hyperreality Festival of Club Culture (Vienna),
Mutek (Montreal), Sonar (Barcelona), Maerzmusik (Kraftwerk, Berlin), The Tanks at Tate Modern (London), Artheater/Frau Musica Nova (Cologne), Appia Stage (Hellereu), The Pumphouse (Aldeburgh), Southbank Centre ‘Concrete Lates’ Takeover (London) and Nikolaj Kunsthal (Copenhagen) as part of Haroon Mirza’s installation Dancing with the Unknown. Shiva Feshareki’s debut LP, NEW FORMS (2019 on ‘RESIST’), is a snapshot into her turntabling experiments: A sonic exploration of perspective and context, demonstrating how one idea can have numerous perspectives of opinion, expansion, complexity and interpretation. Feshareki also composes extensively for orchestras, recently working with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra, Dusseldorf Symphoniker and Orchestra Nationale de Lyon.
It is unarguable that she is perhaps most clearly defined as an artist when working with her trademark turntables, which alone have formidably established her as one of the foremost musical innovators of her generation. The turntables themselves, and the performance practices of which she utilises, are what most accurately describe her both as a musician and as a human being, and the implications underlying this are both mesmerising and profound.
The experimentation does not just end with the turntables however, even though they are integral to Shiva’s musical decisions and underlying musical philosophy. This is evident in her approach to acoustic spatialisation, where the acoustic space is treated in a similar manner to the turntables. No two acoustic spaces or two turntabling sets are ever entirely alike, which means new outcomes are inevitable each time a work is performed. ’GABA-analogue’ (2017) employed space as a compositional tool to create a surround-sound orchestra inside London’s Printworks nightclub with London Contemporary Orchestra. An alternative form of the composition was also presented as ‘O’ at Musikhuset, Denmark with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; both pieces engage with sound as both a ‘sculpture in space’ and as a ‘medium bending through time’. Her composition ‘Dialogue’ (2018) for Live Turntable Manipulation and Orchestra can be described as an intricate cross-phase between electronic and acoustic sound. It was premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall during The EFG London Jazz Festival by Shiva Feshareki and the BBC Concert Orchestra, and it received three more performances in 2019 by the Orchestre National de Lyon and BBC Concert Orchestra (PRS New Music Biennial). Further recent composition include ‘Unknown Remembered’ (2018) for Soprano, Viola da Gamba, Piano and Delays Systems (Spitalfields), and ‘Meditation on a Spiral Staircase’ (2019) for Turntables and Spatialised Brass Ensemble (SOUNDLab, Szczecin Philharmonic).
Feshareki was a composition scholar under Mark-Anthony Turnage, and obtained a Doctorate of Music from the Royal College of Music. Through her research, she has contributed to a rediscovery of some early pioneers in electronic music such as Pauline Oliveros, Daphne Oram and Éliane Radigue. This includes realising Daphne Oram’s radical composition ‘Still Point’ for turntables, double orchestra and five microphones. Written in 1949, it was premiered by Feshareki, Bulley and the LCO at the 2018 BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall - the venue for which it was originally composed.
Shiva’s single-minded and unceasingly innovative approach to her chosen medium is largely inspired by the electronic pioneers of the mid 20th Century, and the techniques she incorporates and even invents for the turntables always produce new and exhilarating outcomes, which sound both relevant today and for times to come. Through this radical approach, she has both reasserted the importance and relevance of early electronic musicians, and emphasised their necessity in musical progress in today’s world. Furthermore, she has also increased the sonic possibilities of a medium where its conventional uses and cultural legacy is commonly stifling, and therefore she has helped transform the perception of something once seen as being merely functional to becoming an instrument of colourful and diverse cosmological proportions.
Shiva Feshareki’s music addresses issues of a cultural relevance to our time, without pandering to pastiche or kitsch impulses. Having been particularly inspired by electronic dance music and culture, she has always been involved in dissolving the cultural boundaries between conventional and experimental artistic practices, and subsequently inaugurating the audience of both extremes without a compromise of integrity. Her influences stretch far beyond solely musical inspiration, and fields such as psychoacoustics and cognitive psychology have a considerable impact on the musical decisions she makes. With such consideration of detail, she has been able to subtly invite audiences into situations they may have once been unfamiliar with, and through imaginative means, she is able to create music that stretches the minds and imaginations of listeners. This evolutionary approach to music-making is of supreme importance in our time, in our day and age of sharing information at a previously unforeseen scope, whereby her substantial musical knowledge and innovative practices have exposed larger audience numbers to new musical possibilities.
By Jason Noghani
(adapted from his piece ‘Analogue Alchemy’: Into the Music and Mind of Shiva Feshareki)
Shiva Feshareki is published exclusively by Manners McDade worldwide.
More info on Shiva Feshareki’s body of work can be viewed here.