in case you are curious. . this is the back story.
As a fearless 7 year old I inherited a grand piano. A life changing moment. Impatient to make music and rebellious about what seemed to me a long winded process of learning about black dots on a page, I started making up music from the word go. I was thrilled at my lovely waltzes and tunes, and the harmonies I found (mostly just triads) . . simple stuff but it excited me to bursting point . . I wanted to do nothing else. But it took me a while to allow myself this luxury. I had to do some other things first.
Born Anna Frances Shelley I am a descendent of the famous 18 century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and of his wife Mary Shelley, authoress of (amongst other splendid works) Frankenstein. Worth noting is that Mary was the daughter of the ultimate power woman and pioneer of feminism Mary Wollestoncraft. I was named after another ancestor Lady Frances Shelley, another rebel, close friend of the Duke of Wellington and author of the celebrated Diaries of Lady Shelley. So it would appear that I was almost pre destined to be in some way of an artistic or radical bent. The scene was set one would have thought. However my immediate family were adamantly not artists, - or rather they were (my mother a talented painter) but like so many others survivors of two world wars and enforced rigidity and frugality, they resolutely discouraged any signs of individual creativity in their offspring, and themselves.
Growing up in rural Gloucestershire I studied (and loved ) classical piano, but to the dismay of my parents and teachers, I was always way more interested in composition. Age 12 I found a beautiful grey Grundig reel to reel tape recorder in an Oxfam shop - this opened up the door to a whole new world - I could hear what I sounded like! this became an obsession that really has never left me you could say. As a teenager listening to illegal pirate radio Luxemburg late at night I started to hear music by Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Bob Dylan, changing my world - there was more to music than Chopin and Motzart! The discovery inflamed a growing rebellion against education, classical music and all grown ups.
By mutual consent I left school at 16 for London and all that it offered in the early 1970s. Which was a lot – all entirely new and mind blowing to me. Flower power was at its peak, open mouthed we heard about Woodstock, went to the first ever Glastonbury festival, Knebworth in 1974. Dressed entirely in Kensington antique market vintage and Biba we were invincible!
A brief spell working at GEM music for David Bowies manager and composer Mike Leander was enough to convince me that office work was not for me. and I set off to India with a girlfriend, backpacking on the hippie trail, (another blog . .. .)
Returning to London I was surprised to be ‘discovered ‘ by Grace Coddrington editor of Vogue magazine and I subsequently worked for the next ten years as a model for the agency Models One in London, travelling extensively and working with photographers Willie Christie, Norman Parkinson, John Swannell among many others. Mad times - always playing music with my friends, in and out of several small time bands, songwriting, and always coming home to the piano and my experimentations. Always listening. But still never somehow considering taking up music professionally.
All good things (and bad!) come to an end and in 1990 I moved to rural Suffolk with my new husband and small baby, restored a wonderfully romantic 12 C monastery, founded the event business Butley Priory Ltd and made a home where I brought up my two amazing and talented daughters Bess and Jayna Cavendish. – now members of the successful band AYA
And . . finally I got down to making music! in 2007 I co launched the now no longer publishing company Ambiel Music where I released ‘Interiors’ a musical response to the Priory and later ‘Wilderness Rhapsodies’ using electronic and acoustic sounds reflecting the natural landscape I inhabit. Of the album, Thomas Dolby was kind enough to say “magical, her music transports the listener”.
Today I feel I have found my voice in the blend of electronic sounds and contemporary classical piano music that has been my recent focus. As well as more conventional composing, I have a passion for what I am terming ‘immediate piano music’ - real time live improvisation. I believe that something extra ordinary takes place during the process of the creation of music; with modern technology this something can now be captured, and my aim is to keep as close as possible to this moment in the editing.
The beauty is that this is a never ending story . .