Mira Calix

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Mira Calix
Birth name Chantal Francesca Passamonte
Born 1970
Origin Durban, South Africa
Genres Electronic, Classical
Years active 1996–present
Labels Warp
Website www.miracalix.com

Mira Calix is the stage name of Chantal Francesca Passamonte (born 1970), a British-based artist signed to Warp Records. Although her earlier music is almost exclusively electronic, in recent years she has incorporated classical instrumentation into her work for performances, recordings, and installations.


Born in South Africa, in 1991 Chantal Passamonte moved to London.[1]

Mira Calix's earlier music specialised in mixing her intimate vocals with jittering beats and experimental electronic textures and natural sounds.[2] In 2003 she collaborated with the London Sinfonietta for the first time. Nunu premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London at a concert titled "Warp Works and 20th Century Masters".[3] The critically acclaimed piece, then toured internationally performed by live insects, orchestra and Calix on electronics. Since then, Calix has incorporated orchestration and live classical instruments in her performances and recorded work. An avid collaborator, she regularly works with visual artists and musicians from other disciplines to create music for dance, theatre, film, opera and installations. Mira has been commissioned to write new works for many leading art institutions and ensembles including: the London Sinfonietta, Bang on a Can, the Aldeburgh Festival, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Opera North, Streetwise Opera and the Manchester International Festival.

In 2004 she formed Alexander's Annexe – a band/ensemble with pianist Sarah Nicolls and sound designer David Sheppard. Their debut performance was at the Ravello Festival in Italy, followed by performances at the Aldeburgh Festival and Parco della Musica in Rome.[4] Alexander's Annexe released the album, Push Door To Exit, on Warp in November 2006.

In early 2008 Mira was commissioned to set Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 to music. The project was curated by composer Gavin Bryars for The Royal Shakespeare Company. Other participants in Nothing Like The Sun were Nico Muhly, Antony and the Johnsons, Gavin Friday, Natalie Merchant and Alexander Balanescu. During 2007 there were two theatrical works; the first, an opera titled Elephant and Castle, for the Aldeburgh Festival, was a collaboration with composer Tansy Davies, directed by Tim Hopkins, Libretto by author Blake Morrison. The second, Dead Wedding premiered at the first Manchester International Festival. Extracts from these performances appear on the album The Elephant in the Room: 3 Commissions. The album also includes pieces from a video installation work titled Natures, a collaboration with video artist Quayola and cellist Oliver Coates.

In December 2008, My Secret Heart premièred at the Royal Festival Hall in London with 100 members of Streetwise Opera. The installation piece, inspired by Gregorio Allegri's 17th century choral work Miserere, is a collaboration with British video artists Flat-E. In December 2009, Mira Calix won a British Composer Award, for My Secret Heart.[5] It was described by the judges as "transformational, capturing raw humanity and giving voice to the disenfranchised in a sound-world which is original, absorbing and unsettling". My Secret Heart also won a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2009 and was nominated for a National Lottery Arts Award in 2010. The installation toured globally, both with The Creators Project and The British Council.

In February 2009, she collaborated with United Visual Artists on Chorus for the opening of the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds. The installation piece, which was also exhibited at Durham Cathedral and The Wapping Project won an Award of Distinction in the Interactive Category at Prix Ars Electronica in 2010. Calix has continued to work with UVA, most recently in 2011 with The Orchestrion an installation at the Coachella Festival for Vice/Intel's The Creators Project.

In 2009, she contributed a cover of a Boards of Canada song; In A Beautiful Place Out in the Country, featuring cellist Oliver Coates to the Warp20 compilation. Later in the year she worked with Malcolm Middleton of Arab Strap on a session for BBC Radio 3's Late Junction. The duo stated they were working on an album together, as yet unreleased.

In 2010, Calix worked with award-winning poet Alice Oswald on another commission for Opera North and collaborated for the first time with the ensemble; Bang on a Can. Mira and the ensemble premiered Spring Falls Back at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York. Mira also spent the year working on a R&D project to develop her skills in orchestration with composers Tansy Davies and Larry Goves. Exchange and Return an 18-month-long collaborative project was awarded a Grant for the Arts by Arts Council England.

In 2011, Mira wrote a choral score for Fables – A Film Opera working once more with visual artists Flat-e and Streetwise Opera. The film soundtrack, based on the fable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" was nominated for a British Composers Award that year.[6]

As a live performer and DJ, Mira Calix has supported and toured with a broad range of acts, including Radiohead, Boards of Canada, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Autechre. She has performed at many concert halls and festivals around the globe including; Sonar, Glastonbury, All Tomorrow's Parties, Coachella[7] and Latitude.

Mira will be composing the music for Julius Caesar—directed by Angus Jackson—for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2017.

Recording history[edit]

Mira Calix's debut album, One on One, was released by Warp on 6 March 2000. Followed by another studio album, Skimskitta in 2003 and Eyes Set Against the Sun[8] in 2007. Two albums of commissioned works: 3 Commissions (2004) and The Elephant In The Room: 3 Commissions (2008) were also released on Warp Records. Lost Foundling, a collaboration with Mark Clifford of the band Seefeel, was released on Aperture Records in 2010. There have also been numerous remixes and contributions to compilations.


EPs and singles[edit]



  • Transparent Roads (2008)
  • Onibus (2009)
  • Khala – Shot List (2009)


  • Royal Philharmonic Society Award – My Secret Heart – winner (2009)
  • British Composers Award – My Secret Heart – winner – Community Category (2009)
  • Rencontres Audiovisuelles – Strata No. 2 – Best Original Soundtrack – winner (2010)
  • Grant for the Arts – the Arts Council of England/Escalator Music (2010)
  • National Lottery Arts Award – My Secret Heart – nominee (2010)
  • Award of Distinction – Prix Ars Electronica – Chorus with United Visual Artists (2010)
  • British Composers Award – Fables – A Film Opera – nominee – Outreach Category (2011)


  1. ^ Rodgers, Tara (2 March 2010). Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound. ISBN 0822394154. 
  2. ^ "Mira Calix | The Creators Project". The Creators Project. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  3. ^ "indielondon.co.uk - music - Warp Works and 20th Century Masters". www.indielondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  4. ^ CTM, club transmediale. "CTM Festival: 1". archive.ctm-festival.de. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  5. ^ Olszanowski, Magdalena (2012). "What to Ask Women Composers: Feminist Fieldwork in Electronic Dance Music". dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music: 3–26. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Mira Calix nominated for British Composer Award - The Wire". www.thewire.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  7. ^ "WARP | News | Mira Calix and UVA Transform the Main Stage at Coachella". WARP | News | Mira Calix and UVA Transform the Main Stage at Coachella. Retrieved 2015-10-25. 
  8. ^ Mira Calix, Eyes Set Against the Sun, The Guardian. Accessed 14 May 2014.

External links[edit]