Sound Bites

recipe songs

A rehearsal of Bernstein’s ‘La Bonne Cuisine’ and a glass or two of ‘cheeky red’ prompted Ann Martin-Davis to commission two new recipe song cycles from Graham Fitkin and Howard Skempton. This stunning project is inspired by ‘How to Eat’ by Nigella Lawson and was nominated for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Audience Development Award.

Sound bites photo

Sound Bites takes the listener through a melodic menu, starting with vegetarian Fitkin, through to darkly meaty recipes of the Bernstein and onto the clarity of Skempton’s moules and baked sauterne custard.

The Sound Bites are delivered at the table (an enormous pink tablecloth on which the piano sits and a metre wide white porcelain plate and fork on which the singer, Susan Legg, is served). Short introductory readings take the audience through a seamless and shamelessly gluttonous production.

New for this season is ‘Hommàge a Fanny’ - a tribute to Fanny Cradock and the glory days of 70’s cooking.


Photo credit - Malcolm Crowthers


Leonard Bernstein [classic]

Leonard Bernstein is still celebrated as a musical icon of the twentieth century. West Side Story and Candide embraced popular and classical cultures and uniquely satisfied both.

Graham Fitkin [red hot]

Graham Fitkin is a vegetarian. He is perhaps the ‘red hot chilli’ of classical music. His cutting-edge compositions for groups such as Piano Circus, Ensemble Bash and Icebreaker have been critically acclaimed and he has just completed an orchestral/community work for the BBC.

Howard Skempton [peppered]

Howard Skempton’s music has been described as ‘an antidote to the congestion that blights our lives.’ His compositions have cleansed the palettes of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Bash, the English Chamber Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. A collection of his piano music, ‘Well, well, Cornelius’ has been seared onto the Sony Classical label.

Nigella Lawson [recipes from How to Eat]

Nigella Lawson has been made ‘author of the year’ for her books ‘How to Eat’ and ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess.’ Nigella writes for Vogue, The Observer and The Times magazine and has also been a judge of the Booker Prize.

Fanny Cradock [NEW - ‘Hommàge a Fanny’]

Fanny Cradock, the great icon of 60’s cookery and ‘home entertaining’ is to be celebrated in stills and video footage from the BBC. Accompanied to the sounds of the Jimmy Smith style Hammond organ, marvel at the sheer audacity of Fanny’s Sputnik Sausages or her Chicken Aspic Towers!

Ashley Martin-Davis [delicious design]

Ashley Martin-Davis’s work has been described as the ‘dernier cries of contemporary design.’ His work can be regularly tasted at the RSC and the National Theatre and he works for theatre and opera companies throughout the world. The Sound Bites props have been created by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s workshop.

Susan Legg & Ann Martin-Davis [traditionally prepared]

Susan Legg (mezzo-soprano) and Ann Martin-Davis (piano) were described as a ‘tasty appetiser’ in their debut recital. Since then, they have performed extensively throughout the UK and Europe and they are now fully focused on their role as a complete menu.

With a popular and general appeal crossing from cookery and Nigella Lawson fans, to Bernstein and Fitkin and Fanny Cradock enthusiasts, the Sound Bites have provided a uniquely accessible touring performance.

With thanks to Habitat UK and The Royal Shakespeare Company props department

Listen to Sound Bites

Bernstein: La Bonne Cuisine

1 Plum Pudding, Ox-tails, Tavouk Gueunksis, Rabbit at Top Speed


Fitkin: FOOD

2 Pea Soufflé (in two parts)
3 Red Slump