Esther Swift announces debut album, Expectations Of A Lifetime, and launch concert

Esther Swift

The album is a culmination of Esther’s musical work to date, from her roots in folk music, her love of dance music and her studies of classical and jazz. A collaborative, visual album at heart – guests announced so far include Fergus McCreadie, Patrick Kenny, Dave Tunstall and Vulva Voce – an all-woman genre-defying string quartet.

The album’s first single ‘Lateral Flow’ was released on 22nd March and features Vulva Voce and Fergus McCreadie. Esther said:

“Featuring Fergus McCreadie on piano, Vulva Voce string quartet and Alex Palmer on drums, this track was written during the COVID19 pandemic. It is a message of hope and solidarity through moments of hardship, loss and loneliness, and a thank you to all those who did so much and made so many sacrifices to protect each other during this time. I feel hopeful that if we’re able to make these kinds of sacrifices and changes in our own individual lives to help each other survive then there is huge hope for our future.”

This immersive launch performance will see the Queen’s Hall transformed into a breathing urban forest – created by Esther Swift in collaboration with visual artist Oana Stanciu, sound designer Dave House and lighting designer Sam Jones. Drawing on the album’s themes of womanhood, metamorphoses and nature, this performance invites the audience to experience the music in a multi-sensory environment in Edinburgh’s leading chamber music venue.

Alongside harp, vocals and sonic palettes performed by Esther, accompaniment and support comes from Vulva Voce – an aptly named string quartet that brings exciting, dynamic performances of music composed by women and under-represented voices. Their mission is to break away from long held conventions of classical music and the string quartet, presenting audiences with radical and refreshing musical experiences.

A prolific, boldly innovative harpist, composer and singer, Esther Swift works across genres diverse as classical chamber music and free improvisation and is known for her work writing for ensembles large and small. As a composer she has recently been commissioned by Celtic Connections, Chamber Music Scotland, Manchester Jazz Festival and The Edwin Morgan Trust. Likened to Kate Bush, Anna Meredith and Björk, she has travelled to Vietnam, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia and beyond with her music.

Esther said: “I am so overjoyed to bring this dream team of creative minds into Edinburgh’s iconic Queen’s Hall. This album is inspired by Edinburgh’s urban nature, the changing seasons and the rich tapestry of people who make up this city. Following my own journey of womanhood and my evolving relationship with the natural world, this album is made with love for this city and its music scene. At its core is my deep desire to connect and share my experiences which make up my Expectations Of A Lifetime.”

A key collaborator on this project, Oana Stanciu is one of Edinburgh’s leading visual artists, her work combining performance, photography and moving image to create unnatural and subtly distorted self-portraits. Her award-winning work has been exhibited in Edinburgh at the Ingleby Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy, as well as in Romania, Japan, Norway and other cities across the UK.

Oana said: “It’s been great working with Esther and finding a meeting point between my artwork and aesthetics with her music. We are exploring images inspired by nature and I am really excited to see where the collaboration will take us.”

Expectations Of A Lifetime will be released on Friday 14th June, celebrated by a launch gig at Queen’s Hall. Tickets are on sale now.

Artist’s website:

‘Lateral Flow’ – official video: