A special commission by award-winning composer Josephine Stephenson will premier at a concert at Derby Theatre on March 12 featuring regional orchestra Sinfonia Viva and city students.

Sinfonia Viva has been working with young people on a creative project entitled ‘AlgoRhythms’  in partnership with Rolls-Royce plc and Derbyshire Music Education Hub designed to bring STEM subjects to life through music (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Around 80 students at Firs and Becket primary schools, The Bemrose School and Derby College have composed their own music, write songs and learn new pieces inspired by the subject of coding.

The culmination concert at Derby Theatre on March 12 will also feature a new piece by Josephine Stephenson - inspired by the work of Ada Lovelace who was the daughter of Lord Byron and acclaimed as the first computer programmer during her career in the mid 19th century.

‘By Red’ - an anagram of Derby – features a five-note sequence played in different ways to evoke different colours and sounds.

Stephenson explained: “Just as different combinations of zeros and ones can mean entirely different things in the world of binary code, I was interested in exploring some of the different ways in which we can perceive a continuous five-note motif by changing the emphasis from one note or group of notes to another.”


Viva composer and workshop leader Raph Clarkson continued: “There are many links between coding and music with software developers and musicians alike working with a specific 'language', whether that is a type of computer code (e.g. Java or HTML), or musical notes on a score.

“This project is therefore a fascinating way of de-mystifying the STEM subject – exploring the background, theory and applications of coding through songs and music which aims to bring the subject to life for participants and the audiences alike.”

As well as playing alongside the young people, the 14-piece orchestra will perform feature pieces by famous and influential classical composers across the ages from Bach to Terry Riley to show how integral coding has been in musical creation.

Sinfonia Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough concluded: “As an Orchestra with a national reputation for education work, we pride ourselves on taking truly collaborative approach to our work.

“Education projects such as these not only provide a wonderful creative and learning experience for the young participants – they also enable teachers to further develop their own artistic and leadership skills and to take these beyond the life of the project.”

Tickets for the evening performance cost from £6 and are available at www.derbytheatre.co.uk


Media enquiries: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR, Tel: 01332 515102/07951 945665; [email protected]

Note to Editors

Grammy-nominated Sinfonia Viva is a virtuoso ensemble delivering original and extraordinary creative musical experiences. Founded in 1982, Sinfonia Viva has a national reputation as a leader in creative music activity in the UK. Its work offers relevant and enriching possibilities for all.


Sinfonia Viva is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. For more information about all of Viva’s other performances, visit the website, www.vivaorch.co.uk

Josephine Stephenson has written music for acclaimed ensembles and soloists including The London Sinfonietta, The Hermes Experiment, the Ensemble Miroirs Étendus, the Van Kuijk Quartet, Explore Ensemble, the Maîtrise de Radio France, gambist Liam Byrne, violist Stephen Upshaw, and violinists Fiona Monbet and Eloisa-Fleur Thom. Her music has been commissioned by institutions such as the BBC, Radio France, Wigmore Hall, Spitalfields Music, Nonclassical and Arcal, and broadcast on France Musique, BBC Radio 3 and Resonance FM.


She has collaborated with theatre companies L'Éventuel Hérisson Bleu (for the 2016 devised opera Les Constellations - une théorie, produced by Miroirs Étendus and Lille Opera) and FellSwoop Theatre (Ghost Opera in 2015, supported by the Festival d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, Aldeburgh Festival and LOD festival). She also makes music for films (including Julia Hart's short Emma, Change the Locks, winner of 'Best Composer' at Underwire Festival 2015) and has worked as assistant to composers Dario Marianelli and Benjamin Wallfisch.

Josephine regularly works as an arranger for songwriters and bands (Daughter, Evergreen, Night Works, NZCA LINES, Shock Machine) as well as for projects from the Berlin-based ensemble s t a r g a z e (David Bowie Prom 2016, concerts with Lisa Hannigan 2018-19).


She is one of 3 artistic directors of Listenpony, a London-based concert series and record label which mixes contemporary classical music with traditional classical music and popular styles.


Josephine studied composition with Giles Swayne while an undergraduate at Clare College, Cambridge, before completing a Masters in Composition at the Royal College of Music under Kenneth Hesketh, graduating with Distinction in 2014. She has been identified as a 'promising young composer' by the ULYSSES Network, was a Britten-Pears Young Artist in 2015-16 and is a London Sinfonietta 'Writing the Future' composer 2017-19.