The Man Who Married Himself: ‘brought to life by Juliet Palmer’s gem of a score . . . underscored by music that conveys subtle as well as abrupt shifts of emotion, creating deep atmosphere, and straddling ethnic influences using a minimum of musical means…The Man Who Married Himself is creative. It is innovative.’ — John Terauds, Musical Toronto, 2017
‘Vermillion Songs was a fascinating response to Emily Dickinson’s elliptical lyrics. A little like a musical dissection – appropriately with her instrumental writing inspired by soundworlds inside the human body – Palmer focused on intricate detail, occasionally taking time to highlight a single word with a flurry of virtuosity. Mid-cycle, the relaxed melodic cohesion of the third song allowed O’Neill to dispense persuasive lyricism.’ — William Dart, New Zealand Herald, 2016
Sweat: ‘The depiction of the women’s collective experience resonated most powerfully in the rhythmic ensemble evocations—sung and spoken—of the soul-destroying daily grind…and the slowly unfolding, overlapping textures of voices yearning for a better life.’ — Heidi Waleson, ‘Sweatshops, Sensual Diaries and Sirens’ Wall Street Journal, 2106
‘…a story about voiceless people, with this extremely powerful, physical voice giving it a story…a compelling juxtaposition’ — A Pound of Cloth: Sweatshop Labor Comes to the Opera, Village Voice, 2016
Boots: ‘The second highlight was the entire blue room’s performance, an interactive Carrie Bradshaw-esque tribute to boots, performed by Christine Duncan and Jean Martin on percussion‘ — blogTO, 2016
Shelter: an ‘intriguing, darkly comic fable’ — Heidi Waleson The Wall Street Journal, 2012
‘We need new operatic works that take risks and tackle more contentious subjects. Shelter does both.’ — Mark Morris, Edmonton Journal, 2012
Shelter: ‘This is music which is never meant to perfectly congeal, and it is precisely that quality that captures the multiple dissonances found in the cultural eclecticism of the atomic age…whether in science, art or the morality of suburban life.’ — Stephen Bonfield, Calgary Herald, 2012
‘a fluent and versatile stylist, equally at home in accessible tonal idioms as well as modal textures coloured with Messiaen-like harmonies and rhythms.’ — Owen Mortimer, Opera Now (UK), 2012
“Voice-Box takes on the world of women’s boxing, exploiting the thrusts, jabs, bobs, and weaves of its movement and the shouts and slams of its sound-world to create a performance piece that smashes the boundaries between disciplines and leaves them sprawled out on the mat, down for the count” — Musicworks, Winter 2010
‘Nowhere was the creative spirit as keenly felt this past year as in some small-scale opera productions by bright young things. Each piece, in its own way, is opera for right now, and all the stronger for it. The best of the lot was Stitch, an a cappella opera that used the sights and sounds of a sewing sweatshop to tell compelling musical and personal stories.’ — John Terauds Toronto Star, 2008
Stitch ‘crosses so many genres as to be in a category of its own… Imagine an opera presented outside a theatre, without a stage or orchestra. It doesn’t seem like opera at all – until you realise how much a librettist, composer and three vocalists can accomplish with the simplest of means. That’s an art.’ — John Terauds Toronto Star, 2008
Music From Scratch: ‘Slowly, surely, Palmer was building disparate notions of what is noise and what is music into a coherent expression that could rightly become a part of a concert of contemporary music at St. George-the-Martyr last night. Palmer has worked with non-musicians before, at the Regent Park School of Music and with adults in a special project with the Gryphon Trio. She may not have known how things would work out, but she knew what directions to encourage. Once sparked, musical energy becomes it’s own driving force.’ — John Terauds Toronto Star, 2007
‘drift, drop offered another kind of memory device, poring over elements of a folk melody that appeared in the opening minutes as an imperfect but meaningful recollection. The anxious music that followed, in bursts of percussion and scale-wise canons of instruments crawling chromatically over each other’s backs, seemed to me an interrogation of what exactly was being remembered. Was it a tune merely, or the vanished cultural assumptions that had produced it? Trills of ambiguous function hung from the melodic line, like vestigial organs. The scampering of instruments (piano, flute and two ensembles) sometimes suggested a frantic, coital attempt to reach the unreachable.’— Robert Everett-Green The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, 2006.
Cypress: ‘simply wonderful … [Palmer’s] music moulds itself to Ng’s dance, conveying both the outward joy and inner turmoil of the piece in evocative sound poetry.’ — Paula Citron The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, 2002.
Aquamarine: ‘an entrancing gloss on water-musics past and present … Sleek and focussed, its references to romantic piano repertoire were clear but unparochial — a rippling polyphony of scales that mimicked the subtle geometry of light and movement on a pond, a repeated pitch treading minimalist waters as a phrase of Chopin lapped against it, a high G sharp struck like a hammer on an anvil as the simple harmonies beneath it mutated.’ — Elissa Poole The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, 2000.
Trellis & Secret Arnold: ‘A postmodernist with a conscience, Palmer fessed up to her sources … but, in the final count, it was her sheer wizardry with sound that made the works come off … Palmer’s music can be as sinuous as a torch song or as spiky as Stravinsky.’ — William Dart The Listener, New Zealand, 1999.
Circus Dog: ‘Out of the heady, jangly ferment spill shards of Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor and John Cage like a rainfall of razorblades.’ — Michael Norris Music in New Zealand, 1999.
‘One of the most exciting composers from this country since the 1970s.’
Secret Arnold: ‘a commanding orchestral sound that leaves you itching for more.’ — Heath Lees The New Zealand Herald, 1999.
Room: ‘a haunting paean to the disadvantaged and the dispossessed. For his score, [Bill] James used Juliet Palmer’s Room … the operatic nature of the music lends itself beautifully to the poignant melodrama of the choreography.’ — Paula Citron The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, November 18 1999.
‘Starving Poetry … followed through on the promise of its first few phrases. In a landscape as deliberately aurally deprived as hers, any false step would have shattered its fragile beauty.’ — Elissa Poole The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada, 1999.
‘Ideas and methods to the left of normal … Deep Stew is fractured groove music of the art sort, pushed along by a rickety but insistent pulse, reminiscent of Captain Beefheart’s rhythmic chang-a-lang. That drive is pulled apart to reveal something more cryptic and spacious … another rock-cum-minimalist barnstormer.’ — Josef Woodard The Los Angeles Times, 1999.
‘Make no mistake this is full-in blood and guts sound fusion at the cutting edge of new music. The primeval sonorities … at the deep end of the band in Juliet Palmer’s Deep Stew made your hair curl.’ — Rodney Smith The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia, 1996.
‘Juliet Palmer … contributed Deep Stew, a piece with a free sense of interplay and … adventurous solo writing.’ — Allan Kozinn The New York Times, 1995.
‘Every word was crystal clear in Surrender?, where, flanked by video screens of old Doris Day movies and a huge silently singing mouth above, Juliet Palmer told of Doris Day’s life. In highlighting the tragic events of one woman’s life, the story belonged to many different women … a moving musical slice of life.’ — Janet Roddick The Listener, New Zealand, 1993.
‘I discovered and enjoyed … Juliet Palmer.’ — Kyle Gann The Village Voice, New York, 1992.