Mira Calix: who was electronic music composer who has died, what work is she best known for, and tributes

Mira’s cousin left a tribute on Twitter and said “words can’t say how much we will miss her”

Award-winning artist and composer Mira Calix has died in her early 50s. Photo by Warp Records. Award-winning artist and composer Mira Calix has died in her early 50s. Photo by Warp Records.
Award-winning artist and composer Mira Calix has died in her early 50s. Photo by Warp Records.

Award-winning artist and composer Mira Calix has died in her early 50s.

Mira was known for her electronic and instrumental music, and often referred to music and sound as “sculptural material”.

Her death was announced on social media on Monday 28 March by her label, Warp Records.

Here’s what you need to know.

Who was Mira Calix?

Mira Calix, whose real name was Chantal Francesca Passamonte, was born in South Africa in 1970  and moved to London in 1991 to pursue a career in music.

She began DJing and worked at the labels 4AD and Warp Records, where she was a publicist from 1994 to 1997.

Mira later went on to become one of the first women to sign with Warp Records as an artist.

She recorded her first album, One on One, in 2000. This was predominantly made up of electronic music but after the release she expanded her work to include written scores for classical orchestration.

She released six further albums, and several EPs, of various experimental music styles.

Last year she shared what would become her last full length album, Absent Origin.

Throughout the course of her 22-year career, Mira worked with the London Sinfonietta, Ligeti Quartet, Bang On A Can, Alarm Will Sound, Opera North and more.

She also collaborated with visual artists and musicians from other disciplines to create music for dance, theatre, film, opera and installations.

Two of her most famous pieces for installations were My Secret Heart, staged at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2008, and the monolithic sound sculpture Nothing Is Set In Stone which was created for the Cultural Olympiad alongside the London 2012 Olympics.

My Secret Heart earned Mira two awards in 2009; the Royal Philharmonic Society Award and the British Composers Award in the community category. It was also nominated for the National Lottery Arts Award 2010.

What did Mira Calix’s label say about her death?

Mira Calix’s death was announced on social media by her label Warp Records on the evening of Monday 28 March.

Her cause of death or age has not been given.

A statement said: “We are devastated to learn about the death of our dear Mira Calix (Chantal Passamonte).

“Mira was not only a hugely talented artist and composer, she was also a beautiful, caring human who touched the lives of everyone who had the honour of working with her.

“Mira has been a huge part of Warp’s family and history. We are proud of her immense creative output; her artwork, videos and music were a true reflection of what an innovative, pioneering and wonderful soul she was.

“She pushed the boundaries between electronic music, classical music and art in a truly unique way. She will be terribly missed by everyone at the label.”

It is not known exactly when Mira Calix died, but she last posted to her Twitter page on March 4, writing about the war in Ukraine.

She said: “help the displaced….save Ukraine ……save democracy…. save the world.”

What tributes have been given to Mira Calix?

Mira’s cousin was among the hundreds of people who have left tributes to the popular artist on Twitter.

Responding to another commenter on Warp Records’ tweet, Stefania Passamonte wrote “She was my dear cousin. Words can’t say how much we will miss her.”

Former Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid also responded to the news by replying to the post with a broken heart emoji.

Multi-instrumental musician, singer and music producer Max Tundra said “heartbreaking news”.

A man called Michael Garvey, who describes himself as a “consultant and solver-of-problems to the arts sector” on Twitter, shared fond memories of Mira.

“So sad. I briefly worked with Chantal back in the 00s. She was really curious and creative, caring and collaborative. Her art was amazing, so different and fresh. What a loss.”

Sarah Barrow, Creative Programmer in Royal Docks in London, who worked with Mira when she created Nothing Is Set In Stone also shared personal memories.

“Such sad news - can’t believe it. I worked with Mira on a beautiful music installation project in 2012 (Nothing Is Set In Stone) & she was an absolute joy to work with. Love to her friends & family.”

Another person who knew Mira personally, audiobook producer Chris French, also left a heartbreaking tribute.

He said: “It feels like a hole has been ripped in the world. Every one of the (too few) times I spoke or messaged with Chantal, she was always a force of total positivity, generosity and love, full of support and enthusiasm for creativity in all its forms. She’ll be missed forever.”

BBC 6 Music DJ Mary Anne Hobbs was also among those paying tribute to Calix on Twitter, calling her “such an ingenious, pioneering artist” and a “beautiful woman”.

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