Cambridge Soundtrack: Joanna Marsh

Cambridge Soundtrack: Joanna Marsh

  • Sting album cover and Sydney Sussex

Sidney Sussex College by Sir Cam

Composer-in-residence, Joanna Marsh (Sidney Sussex 1989) shares the songs which shaped her undergraduate life.

Prelude and Fugue Number 4 in E minor by Shostakovich

In my second year, a friend gave me Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues for Piano, Op. 87 played by Tatiana Nikolayeva. Each one is unique. I loved lying on the sofa late at night playing this track about a hundred times in a row. It has a soulfulness about it.

Pavan: Paradizo by Anthony Holborne

This was on a disc by Fretwork called Armada, which was music for viol consorts in Elizabethan England. I knew viols existed but it was a very theoretical knowledge of these strange, thin-sounding instruments. Anthony Holborne showed me that they were capable of a rich, broad, textured sound.

A (St Paul’s Service) by Herbert Howells

I went to Cambridge as organ scholar at Sidney Sussex. The organ was very present at that stage of my life as I learned a new repertoire. Howells is unmistakable as an individual voice. That kind of scope and colour and density of sound; it transformed my world.

If I Ever Lose My Faith In You by Sting

I listened to this a huge amount and now I see how well-written it is: strong ideas, efficiently expressed – a clear musical language that doesn’t faff around. I heard Sting here in Dubai last year and felt transported back to my room in College – I could practically smell the dust.

Joanna Marsh (Sidney Sussex 1989) is composer-in-residence at Sidney Sussex and co-founder and artistic director of ChoirFest Middle East.

Joanna will premiere her new Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in the Chapel, Sidney Sussex on Sunday 12 November. For more information please visit:  

Interview by Diane Shipley. This article first appeared in CAM - the Cambridge Alumni Magazine, issue 81.