Rachel Jones' Opera debut Presented by The Roberts Institute of Art

21 September 2023

On 21st September, the Roberts Institute of Art (RIA) presented a new performance commission at St James's Church, Piccadilly. Rachel Jones' 'Hey, Maudie' inaugurates RIA's Practising Performance programme, which provides artists with unique opportunities to expand their work through performance.

In developing the work, Rachel Jones invited poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley and composer Joseph Howard to collaborate on her concept for a live, opera-based work. Reflecting a collage of perspectives, the libretto, co-authored by Jones and Adukwei Bulley, takes inspiration from Gwendolyn Brooks' 1953 novel, Maud Martha. ROKSANDA will provide costumes for the performance.

Across four acts, Jones' opera performance followed the character of Maud Martha (sung by soprano Gweneth Ann Rand) as she converses with a choral ensemble that represents her soul.

The structure references the compositional technique of call-and-response, a musical and cultural tradition with West African roots, which became an intrinsic way for Black women to individually and collectively express themselves.

Photography: Anne Tetzlaff


St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly,
London W1J 9LL

Opening hours

21st September 2023
6pm and 8:15pm

Venue partner: St James’s Piccadilly

Rachel Jones. Photo by Eva Herzog

Victoria Adukwei Bulley. Photo by Derrick T. Kakembo

Gweneth Rand. Photo by Christa Holka

Joseph Howard

Roksanda Ilinčić. Photo by Quentin Jones

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