Getting to know... Crystalla Serghiou - Britten Sinfonia

Getting to know… Crystalla Serghiou

Meet Crystalla, a multi-genre composer, pianist, singer and conductor with Greek/Cypriot heritage, whose favourite snack is tea and toast.

She’s one of our Magnum Opus composers for the 2023 season.

A woman in a dress with long hair sits at a piano

What excited you most about being part of Magnum Opus?
I am most excited about the team working on Magnum Opus, including composers Dani Howard and Raymond Yiu. There is something for everyone at Britten Sinfonia and I really admire their dedication towards making new music accessible, vibrant and engaging. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with incredibly talented musicians and I can’t wait to bring new, exciting music to life collectively.

Who has been your biggest musical influence so far?
One of my biggest musical influences is Kate Bush. She is a classic example of a multitalented, varied artist. Not only is her voice extremely versatile with a soprano, other worldly quality, but she also understood movement and how to engage with her audience. Her performances were often heightened by her stage presence, expressions and movement. I love how she blends classical, musical theatre and pop.

What inspires you to compose?
I wouldn’t say a specific source inspires me to compose. It is more of a gut feeling I have. I am constantly creating and have an active mind full of musical ideas. Every sound in nature that I experience in my day-to-day life turns into music; I am always humming phrases, libretto and lyrics pour out of me daily, sitting at a piano always leads to me improvising and composing a whole new work. I cannot go a day without some form of music being very present.

What sort of music do you like to write?
I love all areas of music-making ranging from classical, jazz, musical theatre, opera, pop and film. I like blending different influences and styles in order to create a unique sound. For example, I often incorporate influences from my Greek-Cypriot heritage through traditional, folk music. I also love popular culture and grew up listening to classic rock bands from the 60s-80s such as The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and I love the vibrancy of 80s disco music. I like taking these broader influences and reinventing them through the lens of contemporary classical music.

A person with long hair holds a conductors baton

What’s your biggest compositional ambition?
My current compositional dream I am working towards is getting my ‘Popera’ staged – a multigenre theatre production, featuring traits from opera, musical theatre and pop music. It is called ‘Chronicles of Millennial Dating’ and it follows the life of a young lady trying to find love through dating apps. It highlights the impact of social media today, encouraging an attitude of people being easily disposable, with another potential love interest simply being a swipe away.

What 3 pieces of music would you have to have on your desert island?
I would have one for when I am feeling sad, one for happiness and joy and the last for reflection and hope. I would choose ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ by Messiaen for my sad days, ‘This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)’ by Natalie Cole when I want to sing and dance with joy and ‘You Must Believe In Spring’ by Bill Evans and Jazz vocalist Tony Bennett when I want to reminisce.

What is the best snack?
My favourite snack is a classic cup of British tea and toast.

Find out more about Crystalla on her website