29 members of the
Severnside Composers Alliance
Severnside Composers Alliance
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Gilbert Biberian is one of the most innovative performers and composers working in the field of the guitar today. His concerts are greeted with much acclaim for their high quality of artistry and musical energy. Keenly aware of the importance of creating a new body of work for the guitar, Gilbert Biberian has stimulated much original composition and along with his own works he has enriched the repertoire of the instrument for all time.
A strong believer in the immense value of chamber music, he was the first to form a guitar ensemble of professional standing, The Omega Players in 1969. This was a group of ten guitarists who numbered amongst them a singer, composers, percussionists and bass players. The music composed for it reflects this considerable diversity of talent in it. Composers such as Elisabeth Lutyens, Reginald Smith Brindle, David Bedford and John Lambert composed works which are distinguished by their musical substance as well as by their adventurousness.
The Omega Guitar Quartet, formed at the same time, emerged in 1974, with appearances at the Wigmore Hall, in the first English festival of ensembles of guitar, presenting a vast array of new works and arrangements. The Omega Guitar Quartet went on to plough a furrow for the next ten years, pioneering new works and touring many countries.
Gilbert worked frequently as a studio musician, playing on the sound tracks of numerous films, including the James Bond film, License to Kill, Yentle and Cuba. The fame of the The Omega Guitar Quartet inspired film composer, Stanley Myers, to score for them as a prominent feature on the sound track of one of his films, The Stones of Ibarra. His studio career brought him into contact with such musicians as Sir Paul McCartney, Henri Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, Mick Jagger and many others. His work in the classical field saw him working with Luciano Berio, Cathy Berberian, Pierre Boulez and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, The London Sinfonietta, Lontano and many others.
His career as a soloist has taken him to many countries of the world as far a field as New Zealand, Canada and Venezuela. He has played in Spain, Germany, Turkey, Italy Germany and Greece. His concert career as a soloist continues with planned visits to South America, South Africa, the Middle East as well as the Far East.
19 High St., Topsham
Geoffrey Brace was born in Bristol on February 18, 1930.
Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital and Bristol University (BA hons French) but with no formal music education until he took up his first teaching post in London. where he studied at Morley College with Anthony Milner, Iain Hamilton and John Gardner. During some thirty years in secondary schools (grammar, Comprehensive and independent) his composing was entirely based on his work - choral arrangements, choral compositions and musical plays- two of the latter 'A young man's fancy' and 'All Aboard' published by Chester. Since retiring , he has ventured into the wider world of instrumental and orchestral pieces but only in the context of local amateur performance. ( He firmly believes there is no point in writing anything unless you're pretty sure someone is going to play it at least once.) These include Ode to Music (Kathleen Raine)for soprano, baritone, chorus and chamber orchestra Little Suite for small orchestra ( wind, horns, str.) and, in process Four West Country Dances (full orch.)
Sulyen Caradon founded the Severnside Composers Alliance and served as Chairman until 2009. He was born in Gravesend in 1942, of Cornish extraction. His mother, Margaret, was a piano student at the Royal Academy of Music before the war. After a childhood of piano lessons and singing in choirs, he took up the clarinet at Ardingly College, from where he proceeded to the Guildhall School of Music to study composition with Peter Wishart, and later, Michael Bowles at the Birmingham School of Music. He played in Cornelius Cardew's SCRATCH ORCHESTRA in London during the sixties, and, more recently, co-ordinated the South-West Region of COMA (Contemporary Music for Amateurs) from 1993-98. He plays clarinet in his professional quintet, SYLFANOME, and conducts the amateur, ZEPHYRIAN WOODWIND ORCHESTRA. Having a strong interest in ecology, he stood as Green Party candidate for North Somerset in the 1979 General Election, and has continued involvement with the local group of Friends of the Earth.
I studied composition at the Royal Northern College of Music with Anthony Gilbert, Petr Eben and had lessons with P.M. Davis and Lennox Berkley. My relationship to composing and the problems of contemporary musical language became a deep crisis for me at this time and after leaving the R.N.C.M I 'started from scratch' rediscovering music through modern jazz and free improvisation. I began to feel that aspects of Cardew's 'scratch orchestra' showed a way forward.
I studued music education at Goldsmiths' College and worked in secondary education for about fifteen years (composing a lot of music for school use) eventually being brought to my knees by the cognitive dissonance between the system and the dynamic of my own evolution. I left education to work for the Quakers and study for an M.Phil in Theology.
It is only in the last few years that I have begun to compose again trying to integrate my varied musical experiences, concerns about the nature of art and the art world and the need for a comunicable language. My own feeling is that the classical music tradition in the West is an exhausted seam and that anything I write has to reflect this.
Julian is a former winner of the Huddersfield Young Composers' Competition, whose music has been broadcast on Radio 3 & Channel 4 TV. He has written for diverse professional & amateur groups, including a body of work in an extended-tonal idiom for amateur orchestras & string ensembles. A number of his works have prominent parts for double bass (his own instrument). He has also made string arrangments of a large quantity of music from Machaut to Satie. Sample CD on request.
James D’Angelo (1939- ) has had a very varied musical career as a composer, pianist (both classical and jazz), sound therapist, lecturer and writer. American born, he began his academic life at Columbia University studying chemistry. This was followed by a year at New York University to follow music education. Finding this dissatisfactory, he transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, the New York conservatory, where he received BMus and MMus degrees in composition. These degrees produced two large works, a three movement concerto for saxophone quartet and orchestra and a symphonic poem in six movements entitled The Festival of Cybele and Attis. During this period, he studied with the well-known jazz and third stream* composers William Russo and Gunther Schuller, also receiving a scholarship to study at the Lenox (MA) School of Jazz. founded by the Modern Jazz Quartet.
*Third stream music, a term coined by Gunther Schuller, is the interweaving of classical and jazz elements into the structure of the music to create a “third stream”
Between these two degrees, he served three years in military service at the US Military Academy (West Point) where he played not only his principal instrument, the piano but also clarinet, saxophone and piccolo. Here he composed for the resident string quartet and brass quintet and presented his first ever piano improvisation concert using jazz tunes and popular standards as the raw material.
In 1966 he made his New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall as an improvising third stream pianist (reviewed by the New York Times). At this time he was introduced to the jazz singer Jay Clayton with whom he then collaborated. Together they produced an album for Savoy Records which included several of his third stream songs using poets such as ee cummings, William Blake, Vachel Lindsay, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost.
By 1967, after just free-lancing, he began his long teaching career in higher education. First he was a tutor at the New York College of Music and this was followed by a stint as a lecturer in music education at New York University. 1970 was a momentous year for D’Angelo. He became a full-time music lecturer within the City University of New York, embarked on a PhD programme at NYU and married.
During the next fourteen years much of his energy was taken up with teaching, doing the work towards the PhD and raising two daughters. He continued to perform at the piano, working with the superb Polish virtuoso Jan Gorbaty (1970-75) but composition was laid to rest, partly because of his work and family obligations and partly because he was soul-searching about his musical style.
His PhD work was quite significant because it revolved around the music theory and philosophy of the composer Paul Hindemith who became a great influence on D’Angelo once he resumed composing. He produced a monumental piece of work on Hindemith’s opera Die Harmonie der Welt which is cited by Jamie James, NY Times music critic, in his book The Music of the Spheres and by David Neumeyer, a major Hindemith scholar. The dissertation included a translation of the opera’s German libretto into English which had never been done.
In 1984 D’Angelo’s professional direction shifted to England, his wife’s home country. It began as a sabbatical leave during which he studied Indian music as a way as clearing out his musical conscience, so to speak. This produced a series of pieces with a distinct East/West flavour in the manner of Alan Hovhaness. One of these works, The Three Portraits of Krishna for flute and piano strings drone, was eventually commercially recorded on Virgin Classics (1999), which included music by Copland, Bernstein, Rorem and others.
D’Angelo decided to remain in England, resigning his then associate professor’s position at CUNY. After a few lean years to find his way in London, he was taken on as a music tutor by Goldsmiths College, London .(1989) and remained there until 2003.
The study of Indian music did cleanse his musical style and, from 1985, he began to compose in earnest in different genres. Most prominent in his output are the over 50 songs (about 15 of which are third stream sings), mostly with piano but a few with clarinet alone and, in recent times, for soprano, clarinet and piano because in 2010 D’Angelo formed a trio of this combination. Trio D’Angelo has performed at Gloucester Cathedral and Cheltenham Town Hall, a major British venue, among other concert halls. His extended song Elegy on part of the Whitman poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d was the first prize winner at the 2001 Arklow (Ireland) Music Festival.
In the 1990s D’Angelo was taken on by the concert promoter Lawrence Ball and his unique London Planetree Music Festivals in which such pieces as his Toccata for Solo Percussionist, Fools for Flute and Percussion, Fool and Angel Entering a City for solo double bass, Variations for Viola and many songs (including a set of third stream songs) were premiered.
Semi-improvised keyboard works were also a feature running through D’Angelo’s music from 1985.He premiered at different London venues his suites The Spiritual Warrior, The Elements, The Celestial Hierarchy, The Four Temperaments, The Three Gunas and The Great Happiness. Three of these were recorded on his own label Neptune.
Yet another facet of his work was as a church musician. He began as a self-taught organist at an Episcopal church in New Jersey in 1977. Then, from 1992 to 2002 , he held the position of organist in London at St. Thomas the Apostle (COE). His connection to Christianity has produced many of his choral and organ works.
The following is a partial list:
Tenebrae Factae Sunt (for Coesfeld, Germany Catholic choir), Amen (for the Brighton Festival Chorus), The Song of Solomon (for the Ealing Abbey Choir), The Holy City (for the American Boychoir) The Hymn of St. Patrick (for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dunlin), Evensong Responses, Introit on Psalm 31 and Missa Brevis (for Gloucester Cathedral) and a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (for the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music). Also for organ, the Fanfare Fantasia premiered by Adrian Partington at Gloucester Cathedral and Bath Abbey and Fantasia on a Theme of Hindemith premiered by Scott Dettra on the recording mentioned below. All of these works were revised in 2010 -2011. With the exception of the Amen, The Song of Solomon and the Fanfare Fantasia, all of these have been recorded by the Washington National Cathedral Choir for commercial release. This cathedral choir gave the first performance of his Blow Out, Ye Bugles (published by Recital Music) on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster.
Another specialized area of composition for D’Angelo has been the double bass. He has had five pieces for the instrument published by Recital Music including Ode to St Kilda for double bass quartet, the first prize winner in a Recital Music competition for pieces depicting this Scottish island.
A great departure for D’Angelo since 1994 to the present has been the development of courses to empower people to use their voices therapeutically. This began with his study of overtoning, producing audible harmonics with the voice, first with David Hykes and Jill Purce and then with the master teacher Rollin Rachele. He has become very well-known in the field of sound therapy not only conducting workshops throughout the UK and parts of Europe but presenting lectures at four major sound therapy conferences in the USA. This has resulted in the publication of two books The Healing Power of the Human Voice and Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras: Vowels, Consonants and Seed Syllables for Spiritual Transformation.
Since 2003 he has returned to his jazz roots as a pianist and formed a partnership with the singer Jenna Monroe. They haves performed in many concerts together over the years presenting a variety of cabaret, jazz and original material.
2013 will be a significant year for D’Angelo. His sacred choral and organ music 75’ CD is expected to be commercially released, His Festival Fanfare for 12 brass, organ and percussion will be premiered at the Three Choirs Festival, the oldest and very prestigious festival in England. Recital Music will be publishing the piece. In the same festival he is also performing with the soprano Der-Shin Hwang the Hindemith song cycle Das Marienleben (The Life of the Virgin Mary) in his own English translation. There will undoubtedly be more performances of this monumental work of 15 songs. He has also been arranging his third stream songs for string quartet, piano, bass and percussion to be sung by Jay Clayton in a future collaborative CD. D’Angelo also has long range plans to record many of his art songs.
no online info just yet...
192 Greyfield Road
no online info just yet...
Born in Southampton in 1948, I began composing in my teens mainly for brass bands and had music published in that genre. I conducted and taught at a series of musical summer schools and was commissioned to write several musicals for these events. I also became involved in playing jazz flugelhorn and composing/arranging in a jazz quintet for a period.
Following a period where my energies where taken up mainly by a career in the aircraft industry I took up composing again some 15 years ago. Then following a move to the Bristol area I made contact with Bristol University through courses in composition taught by Jolyon Laycock and John Pickard. This encouraged me to take an MA in Advanced Musical Studies (composition) and then a PhD—which I am in the process of completing—supervised by Geoffrey Poole and latterly Neal Farwell.
My recent work has been particularly focused on the intersection of spirituality and music and includes a work for large symphony orchestra - Chetiya, the opera Passion (on the assassination of Martin Luther King), The Twenty-eight Buddhas for SATB and 5 thai gongs, River Book for solo piano, Shakti for string septet (written for The Bristol Ensemble).
In recent years I have been joint winner in the CoMA open score project (with Labyrinth) and also in the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra’s South West Composers’ Day (with Shiva Nataraja) and continue to respond to requests to compose and arrange in a more popular style for amateur choirs as far afield as Wisconsin, Belfast and Essex.
Born Southampton 1939. Frank received his initial musical training as an army bandsman, and subsequently at Southampton University as a mature student. An interest in composition was encouraged first by Jonathan Harvey (no relation) and then by the late David Gow. He has lived in the village of Purton, near Swindon in Wiltshire for many years, and much of his work has been written for local schools. This has ranged from the popular style of incidental music for Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to a quasi-operatic setting of the Goddess' Trio in Shakespeare's The Tempest. In collaboration with a drama teacher, David Calder he has written a musical called Black Bart's Treasure. The music for a play about Brunel was developed into an organ piece GWR 150, which in turn led to a setting by a local poet Mary Ratcliffe about the Swindon Railway Works entitled The Ballad of Steam. He has also written an orchestral work Moonlight Sonata 1940, inspired by some disturbing childhood memories of the Southampton blitz, a symphony, and chamber music. Some of his songs have been performed by the English Poetry and Song Society. A recently commissioned work, A Purton Suite for Brass Band was performed in 2000 by Swindon Brass.
Jean Hasse is an American composer and performer who has lived in England since late 1994. She works as a music publisher, editor, copyist, teacher and conductor. She holds a BM degree from Oberlin College Conservatory (Ohio) and an MA in Composing for Film and Television from the University at Bristol, and works as the Tutor of the MA course. Recent composing projects include: Soundscapes for science festivals and art exhibits; film scores; music for theatre. Scores for silent films include: FAUST (1926) for chamber orchestra, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1928) and GHOSTS BEFORE BREAKFAST (1928) for quartet, THE RAT (1925) for clarinet, accordion and piano, MABEL'S DRAMATIC CAREER (1913) for piano. Recent publications include POCKET PIECES (61) for piano in three books. Please see the Visible Music website for further information.
01453 82 7684
My composing muse was uncovered after a life review following simultaneous crises in my personal and professional lives in my 40s. I formerly designed computer based information systems, but always had some connection with music making, including choral singing, founding and directing early music groups, playing trumpet, recorders, classical guitar, tuba, more recently percussion, and now clarinet. Familiarity with the viola aids composition for strings, but I do not claim playing facility. My principal performing practice now is improvisation, and from time to time I have facilitated improvisation workshops for all comers. A strong interest in how sound and music is received by body, mind and spirit has lead to investigations in acoustics, physiology and transpersonal psychology. My PhD, from Birmingham Conservatoire, investigating the application of a post-Jungian model of the psyche to creative endeavour, included writing the extended song cycle The Night Sea. I regard music as essentially an act of friendship. An abiding interest in the musics of India and Indonesia has found some expression in my works. Evident and ongoing contrasts between my formal composing and improvisations may now be moving towards some accommodation. I have four grown and loved children, and several grandchildren. Since the mid 80s my principal spiritual practice has been among Quakers – some connection with quite other systems remain. I am a long time appreciator of trees and the under-valued role they play in helping this planet to be livable in. An interview of me by Christian Bodhi of Ability of Love TV in March 2008 appears on Youtube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=G66YDf9bq5g
Trevor is a composer of choral, orchestral and chamber music as well as operas. He records his compositions on his PCTO Records label. Trevor loves to compose for the voice, having written several choral works, three song cycles and three operas. He studied singing, percussion, organ and composition at Dartington with George Dineen, Helen Glatz, John Wellingham and Richard David Hames. Trevor writes texts on music in a spiritual context, writes his own libretti, poetry and conducts. He first composed music as a student when he wrote some experimental music for strings and other alternatively notated pieces. Composing pieces occasionally thereafter, he began composing seriously in 1988 when he wrote 'Sinfonietta' and 'Variations on Mr Isaac's Maggot' [strings]. It was 2002 when he wrote a Requiem [unaccompanied] and some part-songs, and has continued ever since. Trevor has sung in cathedral choirs, chamber choirs, choral societies and also as a tenor soloist. His compositional style is conventional harmonically, facilitating melody as an important ingredient, and maintaining contrast with the dramatic and tender. At the heart of his music is the spiritual, binding everything together.
Blasio is freelance composer, arranger performer and music educator based in Bristol. He studied under John Habron and Michael Zev Gordon at Southampton University, and later with John Pickard and Michael Ellison at Bristol University. He has worked extensively with performers and artists in Bristol, and has received several professional commissions for his work. Performances of his music have included Bristol's Contemporary Music Venture and Multimedia installation 'Do Not Disturb' in Bristol's Redcliffe caves. He is a published arranger and has performed with Bristol's New Music Ensemble and Southampton Sinfonietta as principal flautist. Blasio has recently completed a three-movement string quartet, a string trio and a choral piece for Bristol's Harmonia Sacra.
Steven Kings was born in Worcester in 1962. He studied composition with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood at Cambridge University, and with George Nicholson and Alfred Nieman at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His compositions include Snapshots for flute, saxophone, 'cello, double bass and percussion, which won the Young Composers' Competition at the 1985 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and was performed there by Lontano conducted by Odaline de la Martinez. Several of his works have been shortlisted by the SPNM, including Phantasy V for Clarinet (1984), Deviation-Norm for Horn (1986), Window Waiting for Tenor, Choir and String Quartet (1991), and Passion Games for viola (1999). In 2002, "red land spring" was a prize winner in the Tong Piano Duet Competition, and was performed in Tokyo and London. His "haiku mass", written for and performed by Bristol Choral Society, was shortlisted for a British Composer Award in 2003. Steven’s setting of the canticles in Greek, "Songs of Mary and Simeon", was commissioned by the Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir and was performed by them during the 2005 Three Choirs Festival. Steven has received a number of other commissions in recent years, producing works for piano, clavichord, four horns, chamber ensemble, and in October 2012 a new fanfare for brass and organ. His String Quartet (2011) was premiered at Arnolfini by the Bristol Ensemble Quartet. His choral work, “Care-Charming Spells” was commissioned by Thornbury Choral Society and performed by them in 2013. That year also saw the premiere of "September Zen", an eclectic cabaret-style setting (for soprano and chamber choir) of aphoristic philosophical and meditative texts. His song-cycle "April Zen", and "Prelude, Cumulation, Trio" for violin and piano, received first performances in 2016.
See Liz's website for biographical details.
1 Paradise Row, Woollard,
Dr. Jolyon Laycock - SCA Chairman since May 2011 - Composer, pianist, poet, teacher, lecturer, music animateur, researcher. Born in Bath in 1946; Studied for B.Mus and M.Phil in composition at the University of Nottingham under Ivor Keys and Arnold Whittall. Additional composition studies with Roger Smalley, Pierre Marietan, Michel Decoust, Henri Pousseur and Cornelius Cardew. During the 1970s pursued a freelance career as an experimental sound artist based at the Birmingham Arts Laboratory, and Spectro Arts Workshop in Newcastle on Tyne, presenting work in galleries and arts centres in the UK and Europe. In 1979 took up the post of Music and Dance Co-ordinator at the Arnolfini in Bristol, running a programme of contemporary music and dance regarded as one of the most innovative outside London. In 1990 took up the post of Concert Director at the University of Bath and at the newly opened Michael Tippett Centre at Bath Spa University College and founded the award-winning concert series “Rainbow over Bath”. In 1996, initiated the programme “Rainbow across Europe”, funded by the European Kaleidoscope Fund. This collaborative network of concert promoters and educational institutions in several European cities in France, Netherlands, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Austria was described by Gillian Perkins as a ground breaking initiative which took British techniques of “creative music making into European classrooms in several countries at once”. Left the University of Bath in 2000 to concentrate on the completion of doctoral thesis: “A changing role for the composer in society” (University of York) now published as a book by Peter Lang, AG, Bern, Switzerland. Senior Lecturer in Arts Management and Musicology, Oxford Brookes University 2004-2010. A CD of my Instrumental and choral music is available from the Rainbow Foundation. It features the following performances: “A Dream of Flying”; Rainbow International Ensemble, conductor Roger Heaton; “Edgar the King”; Eclectic Voices and Western Sinfonia, conductor Scott Stroman; “Mengjiang Weeping at the Wall”; UK Chinese Ensemble, Rainbow International Ensemble, junior school children from Corsham and members of Corsham Choral Society, conductor Nicholas Keyworth.
Julian grew up in Bentham, a village near Cheltenham and is now based in Bristol. His early musical experience was as a singer, guitarist and songwriter with a number of different bands, before turning to a more formal study of music in his twenties. He studied for a BMus degree at Cardiff University, with Anthony Powers and Michael Robinson and for an MA and PhD at Bristol University, under the supervision of John Pickard. He also teaches classical and electric guitar at Bristol Grammar School. Julian has written in various genres, including orchestral and choral music, songs, solo pieces and music for chamber ensemble. His compositional style is the result of a broad spectrum of musical interests which extends from renaissance polyphony up to the contemporary avante-garde. Elements of world music, minimalism and rock can also be heard in some of his music. As well as composing and teaching, Julian is also the founder and artistic director of NEW MUSIC IN THE SOUTH WEST, a concert series, educational programme and composition competition aimed at overhauling public perception of contemporary music and bringing it closer to the heart of the region's cultural life. It also aims to provide professional performance opportunities to the most talented young and early career composers. Julian lives in a village south of Bristol, with his wife Kathryn and their three young boys.
Jean-Paul Metzger started to study music in his mid-twenties when, soon after moving to England from his native France, where he had read computer science at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (Paris), a chance encounter with new music revealed a passion for composition. His first mentor was Paul Webster, who taught him at Morley College (London), then privately, in the late 1990s.
A recording of his early output for chamber ensemble and solo piano led to a string of collaborations with fringe theatre directors, short-film makers and popular music artists on both sides of the Channel – which notably saw a set of symphonic arrangements commissioned by singer-songwriter John Otway performed at the Royal Albert Hall.
He embarked on a cycle of academic studies in 2005, first reading music under Joe Duddell at Exeter University, where he gained an MA in composition (in the course which he became composer-in-residence for the Exeter Children’s Orchestra) and, more recently, completing a PhD at Bristol University under the supervision of Geoff Poole and John Pickard. His second piano sonata, Arborescences, written as part of his research portfolio, was premiered at St. George’s (Bristol) by Geoff Poole in 2014.
Metzger’s compositional style is noted for its intense concentration and rarefied quality. His chamber works have been performed in the UK by ensembles such as Kokoro, Gemini, the Bozzini Quartet and the Bristol Ensemble. His latest commission by New Music in the South-West, Another Season, written in response to an exhibition of Zhang Enli’s paintings at Hauser & Wirth (Somerset), was premiered earlier this year by Roger Huckle and Bernard Kane at the Royal West of England Academy.
...sorry, no other online info yet...
Since 1998 I have been based in Exeter. I joined SCA in January 2017. My original musical studies were at the University of York in 1967–70. Following a career as a music book editor (mostly on educational materials) I started taking composition seriously in the 1990s, and in the following decade had five pieces shortlisted by SPNM. I studied with Philip Grange at Exeter and Manchester. Currently working on a four-section piece for cello and piano. A selection of pieces is listed below. For audio go to https://soundcloud.com/pnickol/tracks
Jonathan Palmer spent the early part of his life in Bath, taking up the cello at the age of fifteen. After studying composition with Andrew Byrne at Reading University, he studied conducting with George Hurst and John Carewe, and developed his compositional skills for a while under Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. His teaching career began in Southampton, continued in Bruton, Somerset, diversified in Bermuda and he finally settled in Bristol, where he was appointed as Director of Music at Clifton High School in 1994.
He decided to retire in 2007 in order to concentrate on his composition, and for eight years was a part-time research student at the University of Bristol. In August 2010 he was awarded the Raymond Warren Prize for Composition. Having studied under Professor Geoff Poole and Professor John Pickard, he completed his PhD in Composition in January 2015. His portfolio consisted of five original compositions, and a written commentary that examined the role of extra-musical stimuli as catalysts in the creative musical process. In order to consolidate his own compositional language, his research focussed on composition, drawing stimulus from visual artworks, from the writings of their creators, and from naturally-occurring visual structures. He is now a Fellow of Trinity College, London, in Composition, and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Over the years he has conducted numerous choirs and orchestras in many large-scale events. In September 2013, he was appointed conductor of Portishead Choral Society. In the spring of 2014, he composed a new cantata for the choir to coincide with their Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Awake the Voice, a thirty minute work in six movements for chorus, four soloists, audience and full orchestra was premiered on 13th December, 2014. He is currently working on the third set of four carol orchestrations for choir, audience and orchestra. Other future projects include a song cycle for soprano and piano, and a ‘showpiece’ for flute and piano commissioned by the celebrated flautist Jean-Michel Tanguy.
As well as playing the double bass player in orchestras, he also enjoys playing the cello in chamber music. In his spare time he enjoys maintaining his classic cars, instrument restoration, cooking and travelling.
(Note: when accessing the files below via Dropbox, you do not have to create an account).
0117 904 8902
New CD - visit cd.tp/ipm08
JOHN PITTS, born 1976 in England, is a composer of chamber music, especially for piano - perhaps most easily summarised as melodic, motoric, motif-driven, jazz-tinged, post-minimal impressionism.
His 2009 album Intensely Pleasant Music: 7 Airs & Fantasias and other piano music by John Pitts, performed by the amazing Steven Kings, was released to critical acclaim - receiving a 5 star review in Musical Opinion Magazine, several 4 star reviews including the Independent Newspaper, with descriptions such as "beautiful, moving and relaxing", "delicious", "lovely", "colossal… stunning and seriously impressive", "great character and emotional integrity", "exciting stuff all round… toes - prepare to tap."
Reviewers seeking to describe the pieces on the disc referred to "Prokofiev's Toccata rewritten by Steve Reich", "Keith Jarrett, Sun Ra and Bud Powell", "Bach and Scarlatti all the way through to Einaudi and Nyman, taking in Scott Joplin and Erik Satie", "Debussy, a little Messiaen, `La vallée des cloches' (Ravel's Miroirs), but some [tracks] wear their modal, English-music origins with pride… Vaughan Williams and Graham Fitkin."
Oleg Ledeniov of MusicWeb International wrote "There are many pleasant discoveries - melodic, rhythmic, sonic - but almost no standard or predictable moves or clichés - at least, for me. The listener doesn't have to work hard to get into the music: a kind of minimalistic "submerge and relax" attitude will definitely do the trick. This is a colorful and interesting set by a talented composer. And if harmony is your thing, you'll find much to admire here."
In 1994 John spent a year in Pakistan, which has led to a number of chamber pieces heavily influenced by Indian classical music, most recently his new piano duet "Raag Gezellig" composed as the competition piece for the International Piano Duet Competition in Valberg France December 2011. He studied at Bristol and Manchester Universities, under composers Adrian Beaumont, Raymond Warren, Geoff Poole, John Casken, John Pickard and Robert Saxton, and briefly with Diana Burrell in a COMA Composer Mentor scheme. In 2003 John won the Philharmonia Orchestra Martin Musical Scholarship Fund Composition Prize 2003 (Piano Quartet) at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Typhus and Nuts & Bolts, two of his chamber pieces, were shortlisted by the Society for the Promotion of New Music. He has also written music for four plays and two short operatic works - Crossed Wires (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 1997), and 3 Sliced Mice (commissioned by Five Brothers Pasta Sauces).
He is the secretary of the Severnside Composers Alliance, through which he organised what is probably the UK's first concert of music for Piano Triet (one piano six hands) by living composers, in April 2012. His own piano triet "Are You Going?" ("a toccata boogie of unstoppable, unquenchable verve" Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International) was premiered at the 2010 Kiev Chamber Music Festival by the Kiev Piano Duo and Antoniy Baryshevkiy, along with his duet "Changes" ("three minutes of pile driving energy and brilliantly exciting" ibid.).
He also writes music for Christian worship, with two hymns on Naxos CDs recorded by the award-winning choir Tonus Peregrinus, (directed by his brother Antony Pitts), including one in Faber's The Naxos Book of Carols book. In 2006 Choir & Organ magazine commissioned "I will raise him up at the last day" for their new music series. John has conducted four Bristol Savoy Operatic Society productions, arranging Pirates of Penzance, Gondoliers and Iolanthe for small band. From January 2010 he became the Assistant Conductor of the Bristol Millennium Orchestra.
Scores and Parts are available online from SibeliusMusic (price in $US), or order hard copies direct from the composer (price in £UK, +£3 p&p per order).
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Steven Kings - intensely pleasant music: 7 Airs & Fantasias and other piano music by John Pitts
£9.99 (plus p&p) www.cd.tp/ipm08
"Realmente un magnífico repertorio desbordante de calidad, belleza y de sumo interés."
Alejandro Clavijo, Reviews New Age
"The performances by Steven Kings are excellent ...
All [the pieces] are pleasing to hear and will be satisfying to play"
Patric Standford, Music & Vision Daily
“This is a colorful and interesting set by a talented composer....
The playing by Steven Kings is technically and emotionally perfect."
Oleg Ledeniov, MusicWeb International
Stephen Eddins, All Music Guide
“great character and emotional integrity...a thoroughly worthwhile project”
Mark Tanner, Piano Professional Magazine
Adolfo del Brezo, OpusMusica.com (Spain)
“…surely more than just `intensely pleasant music'.”
Michael Darvell, ClassicalSource.com
Paul Riley, Venue Magazine
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion Magazine
Andy Gill, The Independent
“…highly listenable stuff, very deftly in control of its chosen medium. A number of disparate influences are on display here, but welded into an overall idiom of considerable charm… `Intensely pleasant music'? Most certainly.”
Calum MacDonald, International Record Review Magazine
9/10 “this album is beautiful, moving and relaxing”
Andy Whitehead, Cross Rhythms
“A colossal musical project… stunning and seriously impressive"
John France, MusicWeb International
"Exciting stuff all round - vital, energising, but sensitive when need be. Toes - prepare to tap."
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
Kiama, The Close,
Ruscombe, Stroud, Glos
Geoffrey Poole performed several of his solo piano works to the London public before the age of 21, when Wymondham Chants launched his professional career. Subsequent choral works range from the informal (Imerina) to the vast cantata Blackbird (BBCPhil 1994) and an intricate concerto of vocalities, The Colour of My Song (BBC Singers, 2006). His major instrumental composition include several intercultural concertos, such as that for Ghanean drummer (Two Way Talking, MusICA Poole portrait concert 1993), for Javanese gamelan (Swans Reflecting Elephants, BBCSO / South Bank Gamelan 2004), and a sardonic piano-concerto take on the Western millennium (Lucifer, on NMC, 2005). Residencies in Nairobi, Seoul, and USA as Visiting Fellow at Princeton, have provided stimulus while he sustained a distinguished 34-year University career at Manchester until 2001 then to Bristol, becoming Professor in 2004. Retiring in 2009 has allowed him to reappear as piano soloist and conductor, live and on a forthcoming CD. He is currently writing for New York Polyphony, New Bristol Sinfonia, and extending the pianistic cornucopia Chinese Whispers. He is published by Edition Peters, has over 4 hours of his work on commercial CD and he was accorded an extended appreciation in Tempo (249) by Dr. Deniz Ertan. He lives with his wife Celia in the Cotswolds.
Andre Shlimon is an alternative-classical pianist, composer, singer and songwriter based in Bristol, and composes mainly for his own performance either as a soloist or in small ensembles. He studied at Trinity College of Music with Hilary Coates (piano) and Alwynne Pritchard (composition), where he won awards for both performance and composition. He also teaches piano and writes poetry.
David Simmonds was born in London, in 1953, and moved to the West Country in 1976. He earns his living as a Chartered Building Surveyor, in his own practice. David studied composition, privately, with Nicholas Keyworth and, as a lifelong learning student, in the Composers' Workshop at the University of Bristol, with Dr. John Pickard, Joylon Laycock and Mark Henry. David studied choral direction under Peter Broadbent he is a Member of the Association of British Choral Directors and is Musical Director of the Somer Valley Singers, a ladies choir based in Midsomer Norton. David sings, as a tenor, with the Christ Church Choir, Bath and New Bristol Voices. David is hoping shortly to form a new choir to sing Evensong and Matins in country churches. David's compositions range from instrumental to choral works, both Sacred and Secular and including: "For the Fallen" a cantata for Remembrance Day (for Mezzo Soprano, SATB Choir, Trumpet, Cor Anglais, Percussion and Strings); and a setting of the Requiem Mass (for organ, SATB choir and percussion). David's String Quartet No. 1 was performed by the Emerald Quartet in a Severnside Composers' Alliance concert at Bristol University in June 2007. David's String Quartet No. 2 was premiered by the Bristol Ensemble, at the Arnolfini, Bristol, in March 2012. David's 'Hafren' An Idyll for Strings, was premiered by the Bristol Ensemble at the Creswell Theatre in April 2014.
Raymond Warren was born in 1928 and studied at Cambridge University and later privately with Michael Tippett and Lennox Berkeley. From 1955-72 he taught at Queen's University, Belfast and was also Resident Composer to the Ulster Orchestra, a post which involved both composing for them and also conducting concerts of contemporary music. He was Professor of Music at Bristol University from 1972-94. His compositions include three symphonies, a violin concerto, an oratorio "Continuing Cities", two passion settings, three string quartets, and six operas, of which three are church operas for children. There are three song cycles, one commissioned by Peter Pears. He is also the author of a book,"Opera Workshop", giving a composer's view of the art of opera.
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