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If you are reading this, then you are hopefully intrigued by the title of our festival and the proposed connection between DNA and contemporary music...

DNA is integral to our existence: it influences everything from our appearance to possible behaviour. The main idea behind our festival is to explore contemporary classical music through the lens of artists’ own DNA ancestry.

This will allow us to explore new traditions of music and performance as well as developing a deeper sense of communication among our musicians and with our audiences.


The basic idea of DNA Festival is as follows:  

  1. Select a group of musicians  

  2. Have their DNA tested to reveal their genetic/ethnic/cultural ancestry  

  3. Develop a series of video recitals based on the results of those tests with a particular emphasis on the commissioning of new musical works 

The aim of this festival is to explore the commonalities between musicians and audiences irrespective of the apparent boundaries of nationality, ethnicity, and cultural heritage.


The initial inspiration for the festival began in 2018 when Milana was assigned to a project entitled ‘Hitting the Right Note - Amazing Woman of the Academy’ at the Royal Academy of Music and was invited to perform ‘Two Cat Songs’ by Elena Langer, written in 2006. In 2019, Milana and Ben started work together on the ‘Akhmatova Songs’ by British composer John Tavener. Thus a new concert proposal was born: 'Russian Poetry in Global Contemporary Music'.

After several months of rehearsals, in December 2019, the duo decided to perform an exploratory concert at the Airton Friends Meeting House in North Yorkshire, close to Ben’s home town of Skipton, in order to gauge public reaction to their initial idea. Much to their delight the concert was attended by an audience of over sixty, received with considerable enthusiasm and they managed to raise over £400 in donations for the Airton Friends. Following this promising start, they gave two further performances of this programme in London at the start of 2020, both of which received similarly enthusiastic audience responses. 

Milana writes: 

"Around this time, I came across a newspaper advertisement whereby DNA samples are sent by post for analysis in order to reveal ancestral heritage. I instantly wondered: why not create a concert programme based on music from the countries or cultures revealed in the artists’ own tests? I could see the possibility for a significant number of concert themes as well as all sorts of opportunities to engage and collaborate with living composers thereby generating a range of new types of music."


A registered UK non-profit organisation (Co No. 13424867)

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