Ana Silvera-Oracles.

Label; Gearbox.

When London born singer-songwriter Ana Silvera released her debut album The Aviary to widespread critical acclaim in March 2012, great things were forecast for one of the rising star’s of British Nu Folk. Since then, critics and music fans have looked forward with anticipation to the followup to The Aviary. They’ve had to be patient though.

By the time the Gearbox label released Ana Silvera’s much-anticipated sophomore album Oracles which features her celebrated song cycle, over six years had passed since the release of The Aviary. However, during that six-year period, Ana Silvera has worked on a variety of projects that have allowed her to broaden her musical horizons.

The Ana Silvera story began in London, England, where she was brought up by her mother who a writer and teacher. She introduced her daughter to poetry, folk music and  the art of storytelling. Soon,  Ana Silvera was following in her mother’s footsteps having embraced folk music, poetry and storytelling. However, it wasn’t long before Ana Silver decided to take her love of music further.

Although she was still a teenager, Ana Silvera enrolled at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music, in London, where she studied voice. After this, Ana Silvera decided to study literature at University College London. Having graduated Ana Silvera decided to spend some time travelling.

One of the places that spent time was in Ibiza, off the East coast of Spain. Ana Silvera lived high in the hills above Ibiza, which was where she started to write and record her own music. This was the just the start for Ana Silvera.

After leaving Ibiza, Ana Silvera’s wanderlust continued, and she headed to Berlin, in Germany where she explored the city’s vibrant electronic music scene. However, Ana Silvera was just passing through Berlin, and her wanderlust continued.

Next stop was New York, which was were Ana Silvera wrote and recorded much of her debut album The Aviary. Ana Silvera also collaborated with filmmaker Ryan Foregger on the spectral  Hometown video. Its release was in the future.

In 2011, Ana Silvera was commissioned to write the seven part song cycle Oracles which she performed on three successive nights at the Roundhouse in London. This was the break that Ana Silvera had been waiting for. However, things were about to get even better

Ana Silvera released her debut album The Aviary on March the ‘12th’ 2012. The album was released to widespread critical acclaim and Ana Silvera was heralded as one of the rising stars of the British Nu Folk scene. 

The same day, March the ‘12th’ 2012, Ana Silvera released a cover of Jacques Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas as a single. It had been recorded for Ana Silvera’s debut album The Aviary, but didn’t quite belong. However, it was far to good a song to discard and Ana Silvera decided that it would be debut single. Backed by cellist Jon Cottle and violinist Antoine Silverman, Ne Me Quitte Pas, showcased a talented and versatile vocalist.

Later in 2012, Ana Silvera returned to The Roundhouse, and this time, was invited to perform on the main stage where she was and Imogen Heap were the headline acts at the Reverb Festival. That night, Ana Silvera performed the Oracles song cycle and her latest composition Step Onto The Ground, Dear Brother! It had been commissioned by the Estonian Television Girls Choir and Ana Silvera had written the song with Max de Wardener. Their new composition played its part in what was a critically acclaimed sell out show.

While reading the reviews, Ana Silvera travelled to the North East of England the following day, where she was due to perform the same show at Sage Gateshead. Just like the previous night, Ana Silvera’s received plaudits and praise, and critics continued to forecast great things for her.

They were right. Later in 2012, Oracles was nominated for a British Composer Award. 2012 had been one of the most successful and important years of Ana Silvera’s nascent career.

During 2013, Ana Silvera was invited to collaborate with the Royal Ballet, and composed, helped create and performed an entirely new  full length work Cassandra. This was a major work for Ana Silvera, which premiered at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House in October 2014.

On the ‘10th’ of March 2015, Ana Silvera released Purcell’s Revenge, which was her collaboration with early music ensemble Concerto Caledonia. They had first worked together in March 2013 during week-long workshop where they recorded and performed together at Aldeburgh. At the end of the week, there was a sold out concert at Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, By then, Ana Silvera and the other three singers who attended the workshop with Concerto Caledonia had already discussed recording together. Two years later, that album,  Purcell’s Revenge was released.

Less than three weeks later, Ana Silvera and  Concerto Caledonia released Letter from New York as a single on the ‘30th’ of March 2015. Letter from New York which originally featured on The Aviary was reworked and became the latest chapter in Ana Silvera’s career.

After three successful years, Ana Silvera decided expand her work into the areas of social justice. This resulted in her collaborating with the London-based organisation Freedom from Torture. Ana Silvera created a musical piece with the survivors of torture. It was a powerful and poignant piece of music.

Very different was the winter EP Arcana that Ana Silvera released in 2017. The EP featured both original and traditional festive songs  and was released in conjunction with an Arts Council funded British your that took place during December 2017.

During 2018, Ana Silvera continued to broaden her musical horizons as she collaborated with local musicians in Copenhagen, in Denmark. Closer to home, Ana Silvera collaborated with the  Ice and Fire Theatre company to create music and soundscapes for a new  commission entitled What Do I Know? It premiered at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival in July 2018, which was a busy month for Ana Silvera.

During July 2018, Ana Silvera also released the live recording of her song cycle Oracles. It featured seven songs written by Ana Silvera in 2011, after the sudden loss of her mother, who was such an important influence on her. These songs were recorded with a talented cast of musicians and vocalists and are a fitting and poignant homage to Ana Silvera’s late mother.

The recording of Oracles features a choir led by Josephine Stephenson, and includes sopranos Josephine Stephenson and Héloïse Werner; altos Rose Martin and Joel Newsome-Hubbard; tenors Ruairi Bowen and Kieran Brunt and basses: William Marsey and Dan D’Souza. They were joined by a rhythm section that featured  drummer and percussionist Jacob Smedegaard, double bassist Jasper Høiby and pianist Bill Laurance of Snarky Puppy. Strings came courtesy of violinist Simran Singh and cellist Anne Chauveau Dhayan. Percussionist Naomi Morris and vocalist Signe Trylle  were the final members of this talented cast of musicians and vocalists who accompanied Ana Silvera who sang, played harmonium and arranged Oracles.

Ana Silvera’s much-anticipated sophomore album Oracles is a powerful, poignant and often haunting album of life-affirming songs. They find Ana Silvera exploring the subjects of loss, love and salvation as she documents her journey towards acceptance of the loss she had suffered. 

This song cycle opens with Tears Of Oak, Fist Of Willow (The Sorrow) where ethereal  harmonies  accompany Ana Silvera’s soul-baring vocal. Her loss and sorrow seems very real during this beautiful, poignant ballad. Ana Silvera’s emotive journey continues on The Skeleton Song (The Awakening), where strings and piano accompany her vocal. It veers between urgent, hurt-full and elegiac as she relives the initial memory of her loss during this powerful song. The arrangement to When The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (The Search) is understated, allowing Ana Silvera’s searching vocal to take centre-stage as she tries to make sense of what’s happened and come to terms with her loss. Then during Circle Of Chalk (The Test) handclaps, harmonies and strings accompany Ana Silvera as the arrangement swings. Meanwhile, Ana Silvera struggles to come to terms with her lost, This is The Test during a melodic song which showcases a talented and versatile vocalist. 

Melancholy describes the piano led introduction Pearls and Thieves (The Rapture), as cooing harmonies accompany Ana Silvera’s vocal which is full of sadness, as she lays bare her soul. Gradually, though, Ana Silvera starts to come to terms her loss, and the journey towards acceptance begins on I Grew Up In A Room, Small As A Penny (The Returning). It finds memories coming flooding back to Ana Silvera, before Catherine Wheels (Acceptance) sees her accepting and coming to terms with the loss of her mother. This brings to an end a powerful and poignant album that many people grieving after the loss of a loved one will be able to relate to.

Oracles isn’t just powerful and poignant, it’s also deeply moving and beautiful as Ana Silvera examines the themes of loss, love and salvation as she journeys towards acceptance of the loss of her mother. This she does against arrangements that feature ethereal harmonies, enchanting choral lines, Debussy inspired piano melodies, sweeping strings and a subtle sprinkling of percussion. Meanwhile, Ana Silvera delivers heartfelt, emotive, tender, searching and soul-baring, confessional vocals as she searches for answers to her questions, and moves towards acceptance. 

All the time, Ana Silvera is reliving and revisiting her grief. As she does, it’s no surprise that emotion, frustration and sometimes anger comes to the surface during Oracles. That is no surprise as something precious was snatched from Ana Silvera’s grasp when she lost her mother who was such an important influence on her career. She inspired and influenced Ana Silvera, but sadly, never saw her daughter become one of stars of the British Nu Folk scene.

Seven years after she was commissioned to write her critically acclaimed song cycle Oracle, Ana Silvera decided to revisit her grief once more when she recorded her much-anticipated sophomore album which became Oracle. It features the seven songs which Ana Silvera wrote after the sudden loss of her mother. Ana Silvera has performed Oracles on a number of occasions, but had never recorded it. That was until recently, when Ana Silvera made the decision to revisit her song cycle Oracle. Hopefully, the recording and subsequent release of Oracles will bring about a sense of closure for Ana Silvera. Oracle has a confessional quality, and hopefully revisiting this poignant song cycle will have had a cathartic effect for Ana Silvera and allow her to move on her life, while remembering the mother who influenced and inspired her.

Ana Silvera-Oracles.

1 Comment

  1. Pepper Gomez

    Beautiful write up.

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