Alison West has composed a cappella choral music since 2006 and has performed as a musician for over 30 years. She lives in Hebden Bridge in the heart of the Pennines, and directs two local choirs: The Hepton Singers, a chamber choir which has a reputation for singing unusual and interesting repertoire; and Alyssium, an upper-voice ensemble whose formation was inspired by her compositions, which continue to be their main focus, although also including complementary works.
Alison’s music is atmospheric, evocative, and sometimes humorous. Each piece is crafted as a sensitive musical response to the texts that inspire her; she strives to achieve a vibrant musical expression of their meaning, working with an interplay of melody, rhythm and harmony to create the colours, textures and moods suggested by the words.
She has collaborated with a number of local writers, including award-winning poet Donald Atkinson with whom she has created two substantial works: ‘Rehearsing the Languages of Birds’ and ‘Afresh, Seven Times’. Some collaborations, for example a setting of three poems about the Brontë sisters by Amanda Dalton, reflect the richness of history that can be found in our beautiful local surroundings. Others look further afield to the magic of the remote Scottish islands as captured in ‘Enchanted’, a poem by Angela Cairns.
‘Sea Songs’ is a setting for upper voices of three poems by Emily Dickinson whose body of work continues to be creatively influential. In 2011 Alison was commissioned by the Hebden Bridge Community Association to write a choral work to mark the opening of the Waterfront Hall in Hebden Bridge in June 2012, where it was performed by representatives from several local choirs. Her upper voice arrangement of ‘Did you not hear my lady’ is available for purchase via Canasg, online publishers of ‘refreshingly original choral music’.