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'Shadows of the Phantom'

Robert Sholl and Justin Paterson

Les ombres du Fantôme is a set of fourteen improvisations that act as thematic shadows of Gaston Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1910). They shadow the narrative, themes, characters and events of the book. The improvisations were recorded using the organs of Coventry and Arundel Cathedrals in July 2021, some with soprano voice and saxophone/bass clarinet. They use an invented musical language, and explore the acoustics of those buildings, the gesture and the materiality of the instruments in physical, spiritual and sonic space that is enhanced and extended – initially through Gouldian acoustic-choreography recording and then via retrospective electronic augmentations – to deliver a dynamic spectralism not possible in the physical world.


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Robert Sholl teaches at The Royal Academy of Music and the University of West London. His has written extensively on twentieth-century music, including Messiaen Studies, and James MacMillan Studies, ed. with George Parsons (both Cambridge University Press, 2007 and 2021), Contemporary Music and Spirituality ed. with Sander van Maas (Routledge, 2017), and The Feldenkrais Method in Creative Practice (Bloomsbury, 2021), and on musical improvisation to film (published in Princeton’s journal Perspectives of New Music); he is the editor of Olivier Messiaen in Context (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), and is currently completing a biography of Messiaen for Reaktion’s ‘Critical Lives’ series. Robert studied in Melbourne, then in Paris (with Olivier Latry, and at the Sorbonne, Paris IV), and finally in London (at King’s College). In 2016-17 he played all of Messiaen’s organ works at Arundel Cathedral, and he is currently playing the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne, the complete works Maurice Duruflé, together with major works of Charles Tournemire (with songs and chamber music) at Arundel. He has recorded live improvisations to film on the organ and piano, available on YouTube, including the ‘Unmasking scene’ from The Phantom of the Opera (1925) at He has given recitals at the St John’s Smith Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and twice at the Madeleine and at Notre-Dame de Paris.

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Justin is Professor of Music Production at London College of Music,
University of West London (UWL). His research has ranged from transient enhancement in multi-mic recordings through various papers on the musicology of record production, to two AHRC-funded projects developing interactive music playback with Warner Music Group. As part of the ‘HAPPIE’ consortium, he led the UWL team on a £1m Innovate-UK-funded project – to develop a novel music-production interface in mixed reality with tactile force-feedback.
Commercial research bid partners have included: BBC, Abbey Road
Studios, Ninja Tune, Sony Interactive Entertainment, MelodyVR, Science Museum, Skywalker Sound, Ecco VR, 1.618 Digital, Blue Studios, Swedish Museum of Performing Arts.
Justin is co-chair of the Innovation in Music conference series – and with Routledge – is co-editor of both its associated books, and also the book 3D Audio. He is a consultant to RT Sixty Ltd for the apps iDrumTune and Drummer ITP.

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The Ghost with the Death’s Head
You must love me
The angels wept tonight
At the graveyard at Perros-Guirec
The enchanted violin – the resurrection of Lazarus

The Chandelier

Masked ball
Souterrain – ‘Everything that is underground belongs to him’
I am Don Juan Triumphant
Christine! Christine!
From the cellars to the house on the lake
In the torture chamber
La Mort du Fantôme

Organ: Robert Sholl

Soprano: Anna McCready

Saxophone and bass clarinet: Andy Visser

Recorded by Mike Exarchos (AKA Stereo Mike) and Justin Paterson

All music composed by Robert Sholl and Justin Paterson

Additional original material by Anna McCready and Andy Visser

Produced by Justin Paterson

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Prior to the Coventry recordings, the entire set was recorded in Arundel Cathedral with solo Organ. This was done simply to prototype experimental recording techniques and then test out retrospective electronic gestures and approaches. The following tracks come from this session.

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