Rachel Zeffira

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Rachel Zeffira
Birth name Rachel Santesso
Occupation(s) Vocalist, musician, singer-songwriter, conductor, choral arranger
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboards, oboe, cor anglais, violin, viola, percussion
Associated acts Cat's Eyes, Capital Children's Choir

Rachel Zeffira (born Rachel Santesso) is a Canadian soprano, composer and multi-instrumentalist currently based in London, England. She is also one half of the duo Cat's Eyes, the other being Faris Badwan of the Horrors.[1]


Early life[edit]

Zeffira studied voice and organ at the Conservatorio Di Musica F.E. Dall'Abaco di Verona and oboe at the University of Victoria in Canada.[2] She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2001, founded the Capital Children's Choir, which she also directs.[3] Several videos of the choir's covers of contemporary songs such as "Chances" and "Untrust Us" received media attention and went viral.[4][5] Zeffira released several albums with the Capital Children's Choir, and in 2015, the choir performed on the soundtrack for the film Pan. As a soprano, she released two albums, The Songs of Louis Vierne (2005) and The Sacred Heart of Nino Rota (2007).

Zeffira taught briefly at a primary school in London, where she taught a young Lily Allen, who has credited Zeffira as a mentor.[6][7]

Cat's Eyes[edit]

While Zeffira was working as an opera singer and classical musician, she met Badwan. The two friends began to write songs together and formed the band Cat's Eyes. The duo made their first public appearance at the Vatican,[8] where they performed one of their songs as a mass setting, with church organ and choir during a service at St. Peter's Basilica. Cat's Eyes were signed by Polydor in 2010 and released their eponymous debut album in April 2011. The album received positive press and critical acclaim.[9] During this time, Zeffira appeared in Vogue magazine,[10] and was shot by the photographer Rankin[11] for the cover of Dazed & Confused alongside Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream.

Solo work[edit]

Zeffira's first solo album, The Deserters, was released 10 December 2012 on RAF Records in Europe and Paper Bag Records in North America. The title track was chosen for the trailer to the final season of the TV program Skins.[12] Zeffira received positive press for the debut[13] [14] and the album was listed in The Times Top 5 albums of 2012 in spite of its late release date.[15]

Zeffira also received critical praise for her live performances.[16][17] In June 2013. she was the opening act for Glastonbury Festival 2013.[18]

In April 2013, Zeffira made her American radio debut on NPR's All Things Considered,[19] and later made her Canadian radio debut with a live session on CBC Radio One show Q with Jian Ghomeshi[20]

Film score compositions[edit]

Zeffira is listed as composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, musician and soprano on the Cat's Eyes soundtrack (released in February 2015) for the 2014 film The Duke of Burgundy, directed by Peter Strickland. The score received positive press and majority 5-star reviews.[21][22] On 7 November 2015, it was announced that Zeffira and Badwan had won the European Film Award for Best Composer.[23]


As conductor and choral arranger[edit]

Year Album Label Notes
2005 The Songs of Louis Vierne Deux-Elles Rachel Santesso, soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano; Hugh Webb, harp[24][25][26][27]
2007 The Sacred Heart of Nino Rota Zitto Music Rachel Santesso, soprano; Sara Mingardo, contralto; Christopher Lemmings, tenor; Hugh Webb, harp
2008 Sweet Child of Mine Kudos Records Capital Children's Choir, primary artist; Rachel Santesso, director; arranger
2009 Winter Magic Decca Hayley Westenra, primary artist; Rachel Santesso, conductor[28]
2011 Rabbits on the Run Razor & Tie Vanessa Carlton, primary artist; Rachel Santesso, choir director[28]
2015 Pan Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Warner Bros Rachel Santesso; choir master

Cat's Eyes[edit]


  • The Deserters (2012, RAF)


  • "Here on In" (2012, RAF)
  • "Break the Spell" (2012, RAF)


  1. ^ Tucker, Rebecca. "Canadian opera singer, British rock star hook up at the Vatican" Archived 1 July 2012 at Archive.is. National Post. 24 January 2011.
  2. ^ "About The Choir". Capital Children's Choir. Retrieved 2016-01-10. 
  3. ^ Nadine Cheung (16 July 2011). "Lady Gaga Approves of Capital Children's Choir's Haunting 'Judas' Cover". Popcrush.com. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  4. ^ Melissa Locker (2015-10-19). "Capital Children's Choir Covers The Strokes "Chances"". Time.com. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  5. ^ Nme.Com (2013-07-30). "London children's choir covers Crystal Castles' 'Untrust Us' – watch". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  6. ^ "VIDEO: Youth choir has online hit with Lily Allen song | News | London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  7. ^ "What were today's celebrities like as children? | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  8. ^ Rachel Zeffira's Vatican connections/MTV [1] Retrieved 25 September 2013
  9. ^ Metacritic 18 reviews [2] Retrieved 25 September 2013
  10. ^ Vogue artist of the week [3] Retrieved 20 August 2012
  11. ^ Dazed and Confused magazine cover with Bobby Gillespie [4] Retrieved 5 December 2013
  12. ^ Rachel Zeffira for Skins [5] Retrieved 25 September 2013
  13. ^ BBC album review [6] Retrieved 14 November 2012
  14. ^ The Observer album review [7] Retrieved 14 November 2012
  15. ^ The Times, 21 Dec.2012
  16. ^ Times live review [8] Retrieved 25 May 2013
  17. ^ The Independent live review [9] Retrieved 14 November 2012
  18. ^ Glastonbury's opening act [10] Retrieved 25 August 2013
  19. ^ NPR All Things Considered [11] Retrieved 25 August 2013
  20. ^ Q with Jian Ghomeshi [12] Retrieved 5 December 2013
  21. ^ Times review [13] Retrieved 11 Nov 2015
  22. ^ The Guardian review [14] Retrieved 11 Nov 2015
  23. ^ Hollywood Reporter [15] Retrieved 11 Nov 2015
  24. ^ Metz, Donald E (2006). "VIERNE: Les Angelus; Extase!; Spleens et Detresses; Baudelaire Poems; 4 Greek Poemes". American Record Guide (subscription required). 69 (2): 191. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  25. ^ Fogel, Henry (2006). "Vierne: Songs". Fanfare. 29 (5): 218–219. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  26. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation Music Magazine, Volume 14, Issues 2-7. BBC Magazines. 2005. pp. 80–81. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  27. ^ International Record Review, Volume 6, Issue 1. International Record Review. 2005. pp. 380–381. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  28. ^ a b Rachel Santesso. "Rachel Santesso | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 

External links[edit]