Roxanna Panufnik

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Roxanna Panufnik


• Born 1968


Roxanna Panufnik, of Polish background, has become one of contemporary Britain's most popular composers, with several major commemorative works that have gained wide exposure.

Panufnik is the daughter of Polish composer Andrzej Panufnik. She was born in London on April 24, 1968, attended school there, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Some of her first pieces, such as Modlitwa do Matki Boskiej Skepskiej (Prayer to the Virgin of Skempe), for chorus and piano, were written in collaboration with her father, but by the mid-1990s she had emerged from his shadow. Her Westminster Mass of 1998, written for the Westminster Cathedral Choir on the occasion of Cardinal Hume's 75th birthday, has remained enduringly popular, and it set the pattern for her accessible but not Romantic style, which handled British choral resources elegantly. The Exultate Singers commissioned the carol All Shall Be Well, marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 2009 and premiered Panufnik's Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, personal responses to those very common texts, in 2012.

Another commemorative piece was A Garland for Linda, a set of nine choral pieces in memory of Linda McCartney. But Panufnik has written music in many other genres as well, both vocal and instrumental. She has composed operas, ballets, chamber music, and a collection of television and film scores. Panufnik's opera The Music Programme was premiered by the Polish National Opera in 2000, and she has written other works for Polish and other Eastern European performances. Panufnik has set Vikram Seth's Beastly Tales for solo voices and orchestra.

Panufnik's work has also made an impact in the U.S. Her violin concerto Abraham, premiered by Daniel Hope at the Savannah Music Festival, reflected influences from Jewish, Islamic, and Christian music; it exists also as an orchestral overture that has been performed in Jerusalem by Valery Gergiev. World music influences have flavored various other compositions of Panufnik's. In 2017 her opera Silver Birch was premiered by the Garsington Opera, incorporating music, drama, poetry, and dance, and featuring 180 performers from the local community and schools as well as professional soloists.