New Digital Download Release – “Mystra – Songs from Byzantium” by ESBE – PRESS RELEASE

Title: Mystra – Songs from Byzantium
Artist: Esbe Composer: Esbe
Catalogue No.: MMC119 Bar Code: 5065001668197
Release Date: 28th September 2018
Format: Digital Only Release Price Point:Full

Mystra; Invocation; Run With Me; Someone, Somewhere; Living Death; Arcanum; When the Love Has Gone; Dream of Constantine; Voyage of Byzas; Whisper; Will You Still Be Waiting; He’s My Saviour

Artist Information


Esbe is a composer, producer, and singer from London. Her music is an eclectic blend of many influences, from her pure classical roots, but uniquely drawing on contemporary, world music and film scoring. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Music, where she gained an LRAM and won the prestigious ‘Julian Bream Prize for Guitar’, Esbe performed as a guitarist and singer in concerts around the UK. She particularly enjoyed singing Dowland and other early composers and this soon developed into composition and setting poetry to music.

As the first collection of songs, which were only performed live, were heavily influenced by North African and Middle Eastern music, she engaged a line-up of musicians to reflect this. The group was named ‘Shai’, meaning ‘gift’ in Hebrew, reflecting her part Jewish/Arabic origins. An ongoing interest in ‘World Music’ then took her to India, and on her return Esbe wrote songs in homage to Qawaali singers – the great Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan being a particular favourite – which she performed with British Indian musicians.

An association with several recording studios, brought a variety of work from string arrangements to session work as both vocalist and guitarist. And she has always taught classical guitar privately, coaching students to Grade Eight and Diploma level.

Five years ago, she developed the rare and debilitating condition of Musicians’ Focal Dystonia. This affects just 3% of musicians, and there is no cure. Although there is a great sadness at losing the ability to play, the time she would have spent practising was used to pursue an art career alongside her studio recording. She exhibits with galleries and at art fairs around the UK, mainly working with glass, with a style influenced by Pop Art and Art Deco, and these can be seen in the elegant line drawings she created for the album art work.

Esbe has composed and recorded a great variety of music, each project with its own inventive mix of styles, and she has just completed a similarly unusual set of songs for an animation film. Esbe’s musical influences are drawn from the classical world where she began her creative life, and arrangements and orchestrations display this. But, intriguingly, she is equally happy to encompass flavours from around the world. As well as writing her own lyrics, Esbe has set an eclectic choice of poems, from Gerard Manley Hopkins to the nonsense poet Mervyn Peake.

Project Information


This project is the second of four distinct new album projects that will be appearing over the coming months, bringing the work of this multifaceted composer, singer, musician, producer and artist to the outside world. “Desert Songs – Memories of Rumi” was released commercially in April 2018 as a digital only release (MMC120).

Mystras in the Peloponnese is one of the most romantic places Esbe has ever visited, with its ancient churches and monasteries nestling on a lush, sleepy hillside. Once inside the monumental stone structures, your eyes become accustomed to the dark as the walls reveal their sumptuous frescoes and gilded icons. These are what’s left of the magnificent Byzantine Empire which reigned for 1500 years.

This second album doesn’t tell a story, but it does reflect some, having a loose narrative. Invoking images of Medieval knights peering through the slits in their walled citadels, olives being picked in the fields below, and pigments newly mixed in little bowls waiting to bring to life some of those gorgeous paintings. Again, Esbe’s eclectic vocal weaves melodies drawing on scales from Eastern Europe and the Troubadours, set against a contemporary arrangement of sampled sounds, conventional orchestral arrangements and folk instrumentation. Inspired by her tour of the Peloponnese and stay in the romantic medieval city of Mystras, she conjures up stories based on both the known and imagined characters who would have lived there in times past. Sometimes she explores a phonetic language, ‘these ‘words’ just flowed as I wrote – there’s a liberation in just singing syllables.’, she says. But Esbe is also comfortable writing new text and lyrics, which she blends with a strong rhythmic sense and electronic grooves, all bound together by her forte of classical instrumentation.

‘Run With Me’ has already been picked up by the folk scene with radio play around the country and on the BBC, but several other tracks will surprise and enchant. Her multi-vocal-tracked, ‘Someone, Somewhere’, is a paean to love with simple words in Turkish, and harmonies reminiscent of the ‘Voix Bulgares’. ‘Dream of Constantine’ is an emotional, wordless vocal conjuring up the glorious scenery similar to the ‘Songs of the Auvergne’. And ‘Will You Still be Waiting for Me?’, which could easily be taken for a traditional English folk song arranged by Vaughan Williams, explores nuances of harmony and orchestration, before seamlessly morphing into a North African groove taking the listener to a distant Berber wedding. Esbe’s strong visual memory permeates all she produces, with tracks such as the cinematic title track, and ‘Arcanum’, bringing the distant past to life, as if on screen.

The cover art is designed by Esbe. This serene face was partly inspired by the ancient art that also influenced two of her artistic heroes, Picasso and Modigliani.

This second album was recorded and produced in Esbe’s studio in North London, separated in both time and distance from the historic city of Mystra, but each track draws the listener into a world of intrigue, and life, love, and death.

Marketing/Press Activity

This release will receive a full service to press and media. Advertising is in process of being confirmed.

Though a digital only commercial release, some physical copies have been manufactured for promotional use only (.wav files can be supplied if preferred).

For review copies, interview requests and any further information, please contact Music & Media/MMC Recordings (via, which is a division of Music and Media Consulting Limited.

Previous Release

MMC120           “Desert Songs – Memories of Rumi”

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