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MEET THE COMPOSER: Julian Anderson
An opportunity to learn about and experience the creative process of a living composer. These distinguished artists will discuss aspects of their music and inspirations.
Julian Anderson is among the most esteemed and influential composers of his generation, with regular performances both internationally and at home in the UK. Anderson was born in London in 1967 and studied composition with John Lambert, Alexander Goehr and Tristan Murail. He was awarded a prestigious RPS Composition Prize in 1992 at the age of 25 for his two movement work Diptych (1990) for orchestra, launching his career. His success as a composer has also fed a prominent academic career, which has included Senior Composition Professorships at the Royal College of Music (1996-2004), where he was also Head of Composition for 5 years, Harvard University (2004-7), and Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he holds the specially created post of Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence. Anderson is also much in demand as concert programmer and public speaker. Between 2002 and 2011 he was Artistic Director of the Phiharmonia’s Music of Today concert series at the Royal Festival Hall in London, and from 2013 to 2016 he was Composer in Residence at Wigmore Hall.
Close associations and residencies with CBSO, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra have contributed to Anderson’s significant orchestral output. Fantasias (2009) for The Cleveland Orchestra won a British Composer Award, and The Discovery of Heaven (2011), co-commissioned by the LPO and the New York Philharmonic won a South Bank Sky Arts Award. The LPO under Vladimir Jurowski premiered a violin concerto for Carolin Widmann, In lieblicher Bläue (2014-15), co-commissioned by Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Further orchestral commissions include Incantesimi (2016) commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Society and premiered under Sir Simon Rattle, and The Imaginary Museum (2017), a piano concerto for Steven Osborne co-commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who premiered the work at the 2017 BBC Proms under Ilan Volkov.
Anderson’s strong relationships with ensembles including BCMG, the Nash Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, and Asko-Schönberg Ensemble have resulted in many commissions. Book of Hours (2004) for ensemble and electronics was written for BCMG and Oliver Knussen. The work won the RPS Award for Large Scale Composition in 2006, and the following recording on NMC won the 2007 Gramophone Award. Commissioned by Wigmore Hall, the Koussevitzky Foundation and Casa da Música and premiered by the Nash Ensemble, Van Gogh Blue (2015) won both a BASCA Award and the RPS Award for Small Scale Composition. Sensation (2015-16) for solo piano, was commissioned by Aldeburgh Music and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and was premiered by Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the 2016 Aldeburgh Festival. Anderson’s String Quartet No.3 ‘Hana no hanataba’ (2018), co-commissioned by Wigmore Hall and the Tanglewood Music Center, was premiered by the JACK Quartet in April 2018.
Alongside this impressive catalogue of instrumental works is a rich body of choral music. Four American Choruses (2003) was premiered by the Groot Omroepkoor at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. His 2006 oratorio, Heaven is Shy of Earth (rev. 2009) was premiered at the BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and went on to win a 2007 BASCA award for Choral Composition. Alleluia (2007) for choir and orchestra opened the first season of the refurbished Southbank Centre in London, premiered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Further choral works include a Magnificat (2016) for ORA and a Nunc Dimittis (2017) for the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.
Thebans, Anderson’s opera based on the Oedipus myth, was highly praised at its premiere production at English National Opera in May 2014 and its German premiere in Bonn in 2015. His music is frequently used for dance and his association with choreographer Mark Baldwin led to the 2009 ballet The Comedy of Change, which toured nationally.
Portrait discs of Anderson’s works have been recorded on NMC (2005 and 2019), Ondine (2006 and 2018) and Delphian (2018). Two discs on the LPO Live label document Anderson’s time as composer in residence with the LPO: The first (Fantasias, 2013) was shortlisted for a 2014 Gramophone Award and the second (In lieblicher Bläue, 2016) won the 2017 BBC Music Magazine ‘Premiere’ Award.
The 2020 season will see the world premiere of a cello concerto for Alban Gerhardt, Litanies, and major new orchestral work for Semyon Bychkov.