Samantha Fernando is focused on expanding the vocabulary of non-pitched sounds to create striking textures, utilising extended techniques from breath sounds and whispering to humming and percussive vocal sounds. She has built on previous explorations of the interplay between text and composition, as well as works for narrator and ensemble, to develop into her more recent music for sung voices.
Have It All (2020) was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Singers, and the text for the piece takes the form of a list for unaccompanied choir. Half of the words on the list chart the everyday activities of parenting a small child, while the other half are words pertaining to creativity, aspiration, and personal growth, evoking the fullness of life and the challenge of nurturing our multiple selves. Look Up (2014/15) is composed for four voices, bass viol and electronics, and comprises two texts, one by the composer, and the other by Emily Dickinson. The vocal ensemble act as a manifestation of an uplifting internal voice, while the Emily Dickinson text is a moment of reflection on past pain.
Fernando has recently been commissioned by the BBC Singers and is working on a hyper virtual reality opera. Whilst spatialisation of voices is a centuries-old technique in sacred choral music, Fernando is coupling this with amplification, where subtle and percussive vocal sounds can be added to the soundworld.