Taking a Nap, I Pound the Rice


Fred Thomas & Phaedra Ensemble have been collaborating for the past six years. Thomas’ composition ‘Taking a Nap, I Pound the Rice’, for string quartet, percussion, prepared piano and spoken voice, was recorded and released by Phaedra in 2022.

The EP features Phaedra Ensemble string quartet, Maurizio Ravalico (percussion), Jill Feldman (voice) and Fred Thomas on prepared piano. The five-movement piece sets to music texts drawn from various writings of Thelonious Monk, Anton Webern, J.A. Baker, Morton Feldman and John Cage, and then re-assembled into poems by Fred Thomas.

Founded in 2014 by violinist Phillip Granell, Phaedra has evolved from its inception as a string quartet to a larger collective of like-minded performers, drawn from London’s diverse musical landscape. 

2023 sees the culmination of their collaboration with the extraordinary vocalist/composer Meredith Monk, with the forthcoming release of their debut album featuring the first recording of her only string quartet Stringsongs plus two works for larger ensemble. The album will be released on ECM Records.

Previous UK performances include Kings Place, The Barbican, Kammer Klang @ Cafe Oto, Royal Festival Hall & Purcell Rooms, The Royal Opera House, and internationally at  NYU Arts Center (Abu Dhabi), and La Seine Musicale (Paris). They have been broadcast and performed live on BBC Radio 3 and Resonance.fm.

Their ongoing VOX project explores the radical use of the human voice in music and performance, leading to a dozen new collaborative commissions and two concert series, featuring guest artists such as Heloise Werner (The Hermes Experiment), Neil Luck, Laura Moody and Bastard Assignments, alongside performances of Jennifer Walshe, Florent Ghys, Cassandra Miller, David Lang, and many others.

In 2017, they recreated  two albums for live strings with Mercury Award-nominated singer Susheela Raman and performed internationally with Gondrong Gunarto Gamelan (Java) and Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwals (Pakistan)

Since 2015, they have worked with multi-sensory arts collective Bittersuite, creating large-scale immersive experiences, including Held,  a home listening experience developed in response to the Covid-19 crisis.