OF SIANED JONES
August 1959 - 2 February 2022
Sianed was a close collaborator of ours for many years and was central to many of our projects and performances. We miss her greatly.
This page is a shared space where we will share information and memories of her.
Sianed's blog about her discovery and treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Sianed Jones composer, singer, violinist, activist and artist
by Helen Chadwick
I first met Sianed at Dartington College. She did music - violin and voice, I did theatre and dance. Afterwards she came to create the music for a show in our community theatre company. Soon afterwards, when both living in London, we often met in Lower Clapton Road Hackney, “murder mile” as it was then called, to sing duo songs we composed, and to improvise.
She did some trio concerts of my group’s show Dalston Songs. She was such a fabulous performer, with theatrical instincts that many musicians don’t possess and always with perfect taste.
In Norwich she did a course in electronic music and through that experience made her own studio so that she could record her own work just as she pleased. She broadened her instrumental skills to include Voice, Violin, Bass Viola da Gamba, Electric Bass Harmonium and Sampling. She quietly got on with learning the skills she needed, and again more recently in order to found a film company.
I twice asked her to “co-compose” site specific song-theatre commissions with me. We trusted each other implicitly as composers, creators and performers, and were friends. I knew it would be easy and fun and that our styles would contrast and compliment each other’s. When I say “co-compose”, we didn’t actually write it together, we created a song cycle thread of new songs by each of us for the specific venues. One event was for the opening of the new public spaces at the refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The day we went there to work out what we would make, we walked through each space that would form the journey of the audience. Whoever had an idea for that space would be the composer for it - Sianed for a round fountain area, a calling piece across the balconies and a version of “Fear no more the heat of the sun” for a big open stairwell. It was blissful work.
We did a similar collaboration for a British Museum commission, both song-theatre pieces being learnt and performed by the eight voiced group Human Music of which we were members.
We did multiple projects as Human Music. Her songs for these projects had rhythm, excitement and beauty and were so fun to sing. Although she herself could improvise on anything with a freedom echoing the wild, her songs were perfectly made with strong forms so that a free improvisation could bounce beautifully off the structure.
Later about twelve of us singers with influences beyond the classical, but non of us a true “extended vocalist” as Sianed was, did a trip to Los Angeles to sing on the film TROY as a supposedly “Bulgarian” choir. On that crazy and wonderful adventure, Sianed, as ever the perfect team member, sang every note exactly as was needed, supported others and was so fun to be with.
She performed in many beautiful site specific works for the Voice Project, including a stunning solo violin and voice walking performance, entirely improvised, around the Norwich Catholic Cathedral.
One of my enduring gratitudes to Sianed, along with her skill and artistry, was what a perfect collaborator she was. It was so EASY to work with her, she was quick without being hurried, transparent, efficient, there was no worry only the flow of creative ideas and action. She was always well prepared for a singing or music rehearsal, never took time for her own needs but just worked alongside others, and she could sing any part: low, medium, high or meteoric.
No wonder then that alongside her own work: compositions, recordings, albums, films, and political murals on the external wall of her garden in Splott, she worked with so many bands, theatre companies and vocal groups. She had a huge talent, was lovely to be with and had no ego poking in the way - a rare and perfect combination.
Some of the multiple people and groups she worked with are theatre companies the RSC and Dr Foster’s, her mother the artist Mary Lloyd Jones, vocal groups Dancing with the Dog, VoiceLab, The Voice Project, and Human Music; storyteller Ben Haggarty; bands, composers and musicians Paddy Cuneen, Orlando Gough, John Hardy, Alisa Mair Hughes, Mary Keith, Joglaresa, Will Mentor, Jenni Rodditi, Slant, Simon Thorne and Jon Wilkinson.
Hearing some of the recordings made of her singing in recent years it seems that her singing became even more beautiful, even more pure, even more astonishing. She had always had a vast landscape in her voice, both in terms of range and timbre, but latterly she also honed that wild reach into pure beauty.
Coming back to live in Wales seemed to be a such a wonderful thing in Sianed’s life as her own voice as an artist could come out even more strongly. She could create in two languages, make work combining different art forms, find meaningful collaborations authentic to her own artistry, collaborate with visual, music and film creatives, create for XR and receive recognition and support from the likes of S4C and the Arts Council.
And always anew - she never stopped creating in new ways: the beautiful viols and voices collaboration Tinc y Tannau with Ailsa Mair Hughes where they played Bass Viola da Gambas and sang at the same time, thus creating music in four parts; the recent stunning recordings of her for Orlando Gough and the Voice Project; the powerful murals, and the fatigue photographs.
Even when she was almost dying she was creating. And not just creating but creating for us, and for the world, wanting to speak about fatigue, something so many are living with, writing music for XR, speaking up for refugees in her murals, her collaboration with two Marys, and she had another film project in the pipe line about her illness using her brain scans at its heart.
Perhaps those last two years or so were especially precious because, unable to travel, and so recording for others from home, her own voice as an artist flourished as she realised still more of her projects, followed her own creative instincts, alongside all the amazing work with did with others.
You can find out more about Sianed in her own words here