Sebastian writes: Violinist. arranger, studio musician, orchestral leader, and “above all undoubtedly a force for good” (*), Sonia Slany (pronounced SlaH-ny) passed away on Thursday 14 January after a long illness.
This post is going to be work in progress as we collect more facts of a remarkable life in music which has affected the lives of so many people in positive ways.
First, a photo portrait of Sonia from around 2000 with the monochord, a very personal project to her. Photo credit (with thanks) is ©Glenn Copus:
Henry Lowther writes: “With the way the world music scene has been going for many years, with so much music today coming from so many different directions and with musical fusions drawn from different traditions, Sonia was in so many respects right in the centre of that movement and indeed she played an important pivotal role. Above all she was undoubtedly a force for good. Sonia was always her own person and always wanted to present a kind of music that would broaden people’s minds.
Village Life, the small record label founded by Sonia, was formed in order to present alternative forms of music to that of the corporate music industry and contrary to general trends in music. It was almost a political statement against the status quo and that was the context in which Sonia saw it.
Sonia was a great believer in the healing qualities of music. Healing can mean two things: healing of the body but also healing of the spirit and she was very much into that. And that really resonates with the way I hear music: to some people a lot of John Coltrane’s late music seems to be aggressive, angry and even violent but I don’t hear it that way at all. I hear the opposite and hear that music as cathartic and healing. I often hear that in different forms of music and I know that that is what Sonia wished to achieve in her music.”
Sonia told some of her own story HERE:
Short extract: “I joined a rock band, The COMMUNARDS straight out of college. This (…) led to writing and arranging for bands such as The Cranberries, Mark Knopfler, Teenage Fanclub, The SuperFurry Animals, The Stranglers, Freakpower, Boy George and BJORK. All these tracks were recorded by the group I lead, ELECTRA STRINGS, co-founded with Jocelyn Pook…. I have toured with Mark Knopfler, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Massive Attack, Meatloaf, Egberto Gismonti, The Cranberries, Beverley Craven and performed live with Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Michael Nyman, P.J.Harvey, SEAL and others.”
David Jones of Serious has written an affectionate tribute (with another mention of the monochord) and much more besides HERE
Dominik Scherrer has posted this on Twitter – press play!
Guy Barker (brief extract from a longer tribute) : “What an amazing violinist she was. The thing I’ll miss is that sound. There was the occasional time I wrote solos for her to play and the way she was able to sing over the orchestra…it was great. It was also the adaptability. With her being there, it meant all the string players could play a wonderful ballad with Kurt Elling or a Marvin Gaye song and the strings would just go: ‘Right here we are’ and Sonia would take them there.”
Julian Leaper (violinist): “I first met Sonia at the beginning of the 1980’s in the early days of the Kreisler Orchestra. Her radiant smile and infectious laugh made her stand out, together with a desire to contribute and commit to her work at all times. Sonia was an exemplary professional, and regardless of how extraordinarily hard things became for her during her illness she would never be a burden to anyone and would always have the generosity of spirit to brighten up other peoples lives with her engaging character and that gleaming smile.
My heart goes out to her friends and family, she will be sorely missed.”
(*) Quote from Henry Lowther
Sonia Jessica Slany. Born Rosebank, NSW, Australia, 4 January 1965. Died Enfield, 14 January 2021.
I have written about Sonia on the Vortex website. Lots of memories of her involvement in Orquestra Mahatma and also “playing” for Sweden in our World Cup Jazzball. http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/2021/01/23/sonia-slany/
This is such sad news indeed.. I was honoured to work with Sonia in the late 80’s London cross-over music scene.. we had all burst out of classical colleges and were testing out our instruments in cellars and coffee houses learning to undo our stiff trainings and just play! Sonia’s feel was gloriously understated and her distinctive sound round and rich of tone.. To her enormous credit.. Sonia’s improvised arrangements on Roddie Harris’s Miro` songs were learned by the violinist that followed her. Your legacy will live on in the music you made with so much heart. With love to all who will dearly miss you.
Fittingly found Galileo from the Album Angel N1 https://youtu.be/Z4vO72jvf6Q
I just learned her name today (6 Oct 2021) and those of the rest of the string quartet that really PUSHED Mark Knopfler’s masterpiece “Brothers In Arms” into a place that just strips bare the futility of war. They performed with Mark on his early 90’s BBC special “A Night in London” and to this veteran this particular version NEVER fails to choke me up and bring tears flooding down my cheeks.
RIP Sonia, from what I read in the above article, the entire World will miss your love of music and its healing properties…