About Under Dark Water:
The clear stand-out of the night was Christopher Mayo’s Under Dark Water. According to the programme notes, the piece “sets the text of a short excerpt from Toby Litt’s 2001 novel deadkidsongs.” Mayo’s piece was economic in its orchestration and evocative of the Kindertotenlieder-themed texts. It began with an abrupt percussive gesture, and proceeded with three snare drums playing rhythmic figures with brush mallets, and a deep ‘thunk’ of a lone bass drum. The text was performed by four soloists from the Elmer Singers: soprano Gisele Kulak, mezzo-sopranos Amy Dodington and Andrea Ludwig, and alto Laura McAlpine. Both in style and delivery, it reminded me of a cross between Robert Ashley’s spoken word carriage, and David Lang’s fragmented yet lyrical vocal pieces. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Mayo in the future.
— Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto (27 May, 2014)
I had a more favourable view of Christopher Mayo’s Under Dark Water, which utilized material from Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. Indeed Mayo seems to have drawn his inspiration from Mahler in more ways than one. The piece had a brilliant, earthy, quality to it that I’ve always associated with Mahler, and the four singers performed beautifully...
— Paolo Griffin, New Music Toronto (27 May, 2014)
The strings slowly try to emerge from the basses in the opening of Christopher Mayo's Therma. The brass helps to pull the music along, which becomes more rhythmic as it gains momentum. The low notes remain as the upper orchestra moves along towards the conclusion of this skilfully written work that provides so much from such little material.
— The Classical Reviewer (20 May, 2013)
There are plenty of imaginative sounds in The Panufnik Legacies, a CD from the LSO showcasing works by young composers...in Christopher Mayo's Therma, earthy rumblings erupt.
— Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review (October 2013)
Christopher Mayo created his piece (its title the original name for Thessaloniki) from an earlier chamber work, resulting in often ominous music that feels evocative of time and place.
— Rebecca Franks, BBC Music Magazine (May 2013)
Christopher Mayo took an earlier competition piece of some fourteen minutes and distilled it into this short four minute work. This evokes the visit to the competition in Thessaloniki in Greece with his memories of staying in “a thoroughly bizarre hotel ... a cross between The Shining and the hastily abandoned set of a 70s-era James Bond film”. It appears that Therma was the town’s original name which, having been built on a mosquito-infested swamp is the Greek work for malarial fever!
All the ten composers represented here deserve not only the highest praise but successful careers. The music was all uniformly excellent and I would be pleased indeed to hear longer works from each of them.
— Steve Arloff, MusicWeb International (10 July 2013)
About The Llano Curve:
Christopher Mayo's The Llano Curve relates to a road in California, which inspired Mayo to emulate its natural countours in long, trailing musical phrases. Mayo's attention to instrumental detail was notable, producing a glittering edge of harps, celeste and percussion.
— Rian Evans, The Guardian (30 October, 2012)
About The Window:
Most thematically ambitious and sophisticatedly realised, The Window (choreographer: Dane Hurst) hones in on a fictitious 1950’s South End household during the period of unrest succeeding the Group Areas Act. With a simple, yet evocative set from Nicolai Hart-Hansen - standing lamp, table and slatted doors - Hurst weaves an emotionally complex but structurally tight story which swells effectively in a striking interrogation sequence and a wrenching ensemble section that pulsates around a kitchen table. Christopher Mayo’s score both reflects and builds the unyielding, tenebrous atmosphere throughout.
— Sarah Wilkinson, The Stage (7 June, 2012)
About Clean Room Design: sous les mers:
Et pourtant, dans l'absolu, les autres pièces n'étaient pas sans mérite. Celle de Christopher Mayo, Canadien vivant à Londres, est un autre exercice de minimalisme, avec des effets «hydrauliques» justifiant le titre, mais ses 13 minutes se développent d'une façon intéressante grâce à une instrumentation constamment renouvelée.
— Claude Gingras, La Presse (26 April, 2012)
...In this place that never knew an orchestra, a symphony for violin, viola and reed organs by the composer Christopher Mayo echoed through the spaces at regular intervals.
— Marlise Simons, The New York Times (2 March, 2012)
Elsewhere, playing against postcolonial preconceptions, composer Christopher Mayo’s Anser anser (2012) consists of an atonal deconstruction of the musical phrase from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) when the actress Doris Day remarks, casually: ‘This isn’t really Africa. It’s the French Morocco.’
— Kari Rittenbach, Frieze Blog (8 March, 2012)
From Musicworks Magazine profile:
Mayo has that pragmatic, but also self-aware, sense of how his attractive and intelligent compositional voice is currently taking shape, factoring in consideration for musicians and audiences, and wary of hermetic trends in contemporary classical music.
— Julian Cowley, Musicworks Magazine (Summer 2011)
About Of Trees & Fields & Men:
"Of Trees & Fields & Men" (2011), by Christopher Mayo, a Canadian, was inspired by a verse in the poet Kenneth Patchen's "Wonderings" that begins with an odd simile: "O 'listen' is like an elephant/ Who stalks the woods at night." The elephant's weight and gait are captured in the rhythm, texture and vaguely South Asian spirit of this mildly exotic work for large ensemble. Hints of trumpeting and steady, muted cymbal crashes reinforce the image. But Mr. Mayo moves on: toward the end of the work the steady stomp gives way to a lovely, Neo-Romantic violin solo that morphs slowly into a chordal, rhythmic ensemble exploration.
Mr. Mayo's work was performed by the combined forces of the New York new-music group ACME (the American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and L'arsenale, from Italy.
— Allan Kozinn, The New York Times (11 May, 2011)
Christopher Mayo's "Of Trees & Fields & Men," a festival commission featuring both ensembles conducted by Filippo Perocco, captivated with a quickly shifting kaleidoscope of sound worlds, bookended by mysterious, jazzy passages. At various points, the work also came to life with a thumping timpani beat matched by shimmering cymbals, jangly metallic music that sounded like an orchestrated wind chime, alternately skittering and sustained strings and a clang of pitched percussion that led to an abrasive but rewarding conclusion.
— Ronni Reich, The Star-Ledger (12 May, 2011)
About Death on Three-Mile Creek:
In "Death on Three-Mile Creek," Christopher Mayo resourcefully evoked Appalachian folk styles, New Orleans funeral marches and the shifting pulses of drum 'n' bass electronica in setting aphoristic eulogies by Jonathan Williams. One song had Ilana Zarankin, a soprano, vaulting to vertiginous heights over a black groan of scraped strings and pedal tones; in another Ms. Zarankin sang in intentionally ragged concord with a second soprano, Clarissa Lyons, and a mezzo-soprano, Wang Nian.
— Steve Smith, The New York Times (18 April, 2011)
About Jolt Him, An Awl, A Sin:
Fredericton's edgy chamber group Motion Ensemble prepared to premiere a new composition this weekend by the celebrated expat Canadian Christopher Mayo...
The Toronto-born, London-based Mayo is known for his multimedia, experimental music extravaganzas and is scheduled to cross the Atlantic so he can attend the first public performances of his newest composition by the group that commissioned it.
— Paul Gessell, The Telegraph-Journal (4 February, 2011)
About Binding the quiet:
Quant à Christopher Mayo, il fait une musique robuste, vive, spirituelle, colorée mais jamais légère : son portrait tout craché.
[As for Christopher Mayo, his music is robust, lively, witty, colourful but never light: his spitting image.]
— Nicolas Gilbert, www.radio-canada.ca (8 November 2010)
Christopher Mayo's Binding the quiet starts out in a brushed, pitchless soundscape of airy sounds and rustled paper. As it gradually accumulates more concrete surface detail, all derived from the same simple melodic line, rhythmic patterns begin to dominate, and the transformation is quick, total and delirious.
— Elissa Poole, The Globe and Mail (9 November 2010)
«…Chris Mayo, aussi de l'Ontario, est l'architecte du groupe. Il va ériger son monument, tout doucement, à peine audible au début pour élever la musique, pierre par pierre », explique Mme Lacroix.
["Chris Mayo, also from Ontario, is the architect of the group. He builds his monument, softly, barely audible at first and erects the music, stone by stone." says Lacroix.]
— Brigitte Lemay, Le Métropolitain (10 November 2010)
Mayo me semble le talent le plus à même de construire des oeuvres plus vastes…
[Mayo seems to be the talent best able to build larger works…]
— Christopher Huss, Le Devoir (12 November 2010)
La virtuosité d'une certaine jeune musique anglaise se mâtine chez Mayo
(Binding the quiet) d'une attention toute particulière à l'exploration timbrale, particulièrement sensible en début de parcours, et la directionnalité formelle de cette quasi-toccate, dont on pressent assez rapidement l'objectif ultime, suit pourtant vers son apogée un chemin habilement sinueux et varié.
[In Mayo's work (Binding the quiet) the virtuosity of a certain young, English music is mixed with a particular attention to timbral exploration, particularly noticeable at the beginning of the work. The formal directionality of this quasi-toccata, in which we quickly sense the ultimate goal, follows a path toward its climax which is expertly winding and varied.]
— Michel Gonneville, cette ville étrange (20 November 2010)
Christopher Mayo's Binding the quiet initially seemed to evoke natural soundscapes such as shifting wind-like sounds, with few pitch references. The rustle of crumpled paper emerged time and time again throughout the piece sounding subtly through the thickening instrumental textures. A constantly varied melody eventually emerged from the sonic mesh, gained rhythmic distinction, and then faded. The surprisingly rich sounds of crumpled paper...echoed in my mind.
— Andrew Timar, The WholeNote Blog (26 November 2010)
À la fin du spectacle, l'heure du vote a sonné. Le vainqueur de la tournée remporte le prix du public Génération 2010, assorti d'une bourse de 1 000 $ et d'une commande des Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. Cette année, c'est Christopher Mayo qui a été choisi par près de 700 spectateurs pour son œuvre Binding the quiet. Une distinction de plus pour un jeune virtuose canadien.
[At the end of the show, the time to vote has come. The winner of the tour wins the audience award Generation 2010, with a cash prize of $1,000 and a commission from the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. This year, Christopher Mayo was selected by about 700 spectators for his work Binding the quiet. One distinction more for a young Canadian virtuoso.]
— Elodie Crézé, L'Express du Pacifique (6 December 2010)
About Classic Goldie:
[Goldie] has been working with a young composer called Christopher Mayo and is full of admiration – "He's like a watchmaker who has this hobby of making little carousels that all spin and turn and ballerinas pop out of boxes and woodmakers and cuckoos pop out."
— Lynn Barber, The Observer (19 July 2009)
Chris Mayo and Christopher Crebolder’s poignant Houses is also persuasive, with gentle counterpoint hinting at the little dramas behind the affectless intonation of names, dates and addresses from the
— Anna Picard, The Independant (25 November 2007)