Making emotion the heart of your work, with composer Roxanna Panufnik

by Joanna Pieters | Follow her on Facebook here

Roxanna Panufnik is one of Britain’s most popular classical composers. She’s particularly known for her works for choirs, and next year will see the premiere of a new opera, Silver Birch, which draws on stories of World War 1 as well as contemporary experiences of war and its impact on families.

Roxanna tells me about the time when, faced with an ideal new commission, she spent weeks of agony sitting in front of a blank piece of paper, asking herself whether her career was over. We talk about how she got herself past composer’s block, and the very practical steps she takes now to keep that kind of trouble at bay.

We also talk about the central role that emotion plays in Roxanna’s work, and how she manages her energy and own emotion to stay healthy and productive. We talk about how the importance of the right collaborators, and how finding the right text – or the wrong one – can make all the difference to her creative work.

Roxanna Panufnik is one of the most disciplined and yet fun creators I’ve talked to so far. In a life full of high-profile commissions, professional demands on her time, three children and a busy personal life, she’s made a conscious decision to look after own own mind and body.

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