After specialising in composition and romantic violin performance practice during her undergraduate degree at the University of Birmingham, Jo went on to complete a masters in contemporary acoustic and electro-acoustic composition at the same institution, studying with Jonti Harrison, Scott Wilson and Michael Zev Gordon.
Jo specialises in scoring plays and films, and particularly enjoys writing for piano, violin, electronics, and orchestra. Her favourite style to compose in is minimalist.
Here are a selection of Jo's pieces.
Reunification is a documentary by Alvin Tsang. It received special jury mention at San Diego Asian Film Festival, and is currently touring international festivals.
"REUNIFICATION is Tsang’s poetic and self-reflexive exploration of many unresolved years... Backed by an achingly beautiful score, the film moves moodily across different channels and modes, bending into labor histories and Hong Kong’s colonial trajectories, wading in the mire of nostalgia, grief, and confusion that is his past."
This score was created on no budget in the living room of a one bedroom flat, recording the violin through a broken mixing desk and a single microphone. The score is minimalist and focuses on creating a sense of light and space, through electronics, piano, and violin.
A short documentary following Alex Miziuk, a base jumper. Directed by Bella Meyer, Ground Rush features stunning footage captured from wing suits combined with interviews with Alex and his family as he weighs the risk of his sport against his passion. Coming to festivals 2018/19.
A short experimental short directed by Kirsty Sturgess, examining culture and identity. The score is for strings, piano, Bawu, Dizi, Erhu and electronics.
A short sci-fi film that will be showing at festivals during 2018. The score is for electronics and orchestra.
Mind’s Eye is a VR film about dementia currently being developed for Occulus. More details soon!
Death Is Just A Feeling
A short thriller-horror film about parents who can't let go of their child. Coming to festivals in 2018!
Night Of The Screamer
Jo's third film with director Alec Jordan, Night Of The Screamer follows a woman who becomes haunted after a miscarriage. Screamer will be coming to festivals over the next year. The hummed melody was the first part of the score to be created, and the majority of the rest of the score was created by applying musique concrete techniques to the vocal line to generate thick, electronic-esque sounds. Supporting instruments include piano and synths created in Zebra 2.
Cups is a short horror-comedy about a man who learns the value of recycling the hard way. The score includes classic horror influences through to spaghetti western style music.
A one-woman, feminist thriller with teeth and guts. After premiering at Brussels International Fantasy Film Festival in April 2018, Joanne will be coming to festivals worldwide through the rest of the year.
Disavowed is a short thriller about Linus, a child of neglect who comes face to face with his past and must take control of his life in an unorthodox way. Disavowed won the "Outside The Box" and "Audience Choice" awards at Rack Festival in November 2016. The score was created using East West samples, and to illustrate Linus' growth, the music gradually morphs from classical to rock.
Classified Freaks is a superhero-inspired, London-based web series. A group of gifted individuals come to realise that they are meant for something greater, but in order to pursue their destiny they must first evade capture from a ruthless organisation that is hell bent on controlling them. The score was created using various East West sample libraries, and has influences ranging from Williams to Silvestri to Newman.
Between The Lines
Between The Lines is a new drama-comedy from director Joe Zarobinski. The pilot is currently in production.
Billion To One
Billion To One is a web series created by Collab Feature. I was one of a selection of composers working on the score. The episodes are available here.
Bespoke is a short student piece, telling the story of a down and out man who goes into a upmarket suit shop. The brief was to create a score inspired by Vivaldi and Mozart. The score was rendered using East West Orchestra Platinum.
Still Chaos is an experimental film from director Jamie Benyon, inspired by Doug Trumball's visual style and the music of Ligeti. The film will show at Enconters Film Festival. Jamie and I hope to work together again on a film called When Night Falls- watch this space! The score was rendered using East West Symphonic Choirs.
The Magnetic Diaries
A new piece of writing from author Sarah James, Magnetic Diaries is a one woman poetry play. Em Bailey is a modern day Madam Bovary, struggling to balance motherhood, wifehood, and her spiralling mental health. The score was inspired by concepts of microtonality, and uses piano, violin and electronics. The show has toured around the UK including a run at Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. Click the link below to hear the score, which is also available for purchase.
House of Bernarda Alba
Jo's first play, this score was created after meticulously listening to and analysing traditional Spanish folk songs and palmas rhythms. Jo subsequently wrote a cappella music inspired by this research to lyrics by award winning writer David Johnston. The score was performed live on stage by the singers. Please get in touch if you'd like to hear this score.
Hide & Seek
Hide and Seek was directed by Jo Rush. It was a devised piece based loosely on a story by Carol Ann Duffy of a fairy tale gone wrong. It ran at the Edinburgh Fringe in a tiny and wonderful venue in 2014. This song provided the end of the score.
Honey has had a successful mini-tour around the Midlands in 2016/17, and toured nationally in 2018. It's the story of an autistic boy, his alcoholic mother, and the people who want to love them. The score is folk infused and was initially performed live during each performance, featuring fiddle, guitar and voice. For the second run the score was pre-recorded. Please get in touch if you'd like to hear this score.
A short minimalist piece for piano, electronics, and various other instruments, created using various East West sample libraries.
An electronic piece created to accompany a piece of spoken word at a carol service, with a few world instruments and piano thrown in for good measure.
The Beauty Of Nothing
A short ambient piece for electronics and piano, using various East West sample libraries.
The Sky, The Sky
One of Jo's first compositions, and the first time a lot of her favourite techniques were tried out. Created using FL Studio 9.
A rare piece of pure classical music, written by following various self-imposed rules. Written, performed and recorded by Joanna Karselis.
...when all around is fading...
This piece was originally intended to be a study in orchestrating in the style of John Adams. It utilises a few themes which are used over waves of harmony.
The piece won the University of Birmingham Composition Competition in 2012, judged by film composer Patrick Doyle, and is performed here by the UMS at the Brammal building.
...out of the ashes... )
The electronic version of a piece Jo plans to modify at some point to form the basis of a movement for a violin sonata. The piece was written for a competition. The brief was to write a two minute piece on the theme of rising. Piece composed in FL Studio 9 and Reaper
Népdal was written whilst studying with Michael Zev Gordon. Inspired by this Bartok piece, Népdal focuses on letting each note sound and die away, with occasional moments of focus existing alongside the general wash of colour. Piece rendered using Sibelius 7.
This Vagabond Life
A set of three pieces for piano, manipulated harp and electronics. Again there are contrasting moments of focus over a general wash of harmonic colour. Pieces created in Reaper using East West sound libraries.
Here Be Dragons
Created using a Roland System 1 Synth, various East West libraries, and Reaper.
Lost In The Puddles
This short piece is for piano, electronics, synthesiser, and small orchestra. Created using various East West samples and a Roland System 1.
And So We Went East
Created using East West libraries and Reaper.
The Other Road
Written for synth, piano, strings, and alto flute, using various East West sample libraries and Reaper.
In Summer's Rain
This short piece has an uplifting and relaxing feel to it and was created using East West libraries and Reaper.