Opera North Projects

Joanna MacGregor - Sunrise

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Taking inspiration from the music of Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and traditional American spirituals, pianist Joanna MacGregor and jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard create a new live score for Sunrise, F.W. Murnau’s 1927 masterpiece of silent film.

Made in the twilight of the silent era, Sunrise became a swan-song for the vanishing medium and one of its greatest expressions, a story about innocence and experience, urban and rural America, love and violence.

As part of an ongoing fascination with film and music, this Sunrise live soundtrack explores the effect that music has on film and vice-versa.

Film with newly commissioned live soundtrack by Joanna MacGregor and Andy Sheppard

Supported by the Opera North Future Fund


Joanna MacGregor OBE is one of the world’s most innovative musicians committed to expressing musical connections. Widely known for her interpretations of Bach’s keyboard music, she is also currently performing a complete cycle of Mozart concertos and Beethoven sonatas and in 2010 performed the complete Chopin Mazurkas for the composer’s bicentenary. Greatly interested in multimedia collaborations she has worked with included paediatricians, artists, musicians and cultural historian Marina Warner as well as toured around the world, including Spain, Mexico, South America and China. A veteran recording artist with over 30 solo recordings, ranging from Bach, Scarlatti, Ravel and Debussy, to jazz and John Cage, she founded her own recording label SoundCircus in 1998. Currently Head of Piano at The Royal Academy of Music, Joanna MacGregor was awarded an OBE Queen’s Jubilee Honours 2012.

Andy Sheppard is one of Britain foremost saxophonists, having spent his early career in Paris before returning to the UK in the mid-80s. His self-titled debut album was released in 1987 and earned him the first of a series of awards, including Best Newcomer at the British Jazz Awards. Often described as a serial collaborator, Sheppard has worked with an astonishing range of musical partners, across music genres and often working in specially commissioned projects both in the UK and abroad.

Your reaction

‘Inspirational, intense and deeply moving’ The Arts Desk on Joanna MacGregor

‘Romanticism, carefully, managed anarchy and accessibility subtle, elegant jazz…’ The Guardian on Andy Sheppard

Performance history

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

26th April 2014

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