Russell Hepplewhite was awarded a scholarship to study composition and piano at the Royal College of Music, following previous studies at Chetham’s School of Music. His music has since been performed at venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Library Theatre Luton, the Purcell Room and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He has won numerous prizes and his most recent opera Laika the Spacedog for English Touring Opera was the recipient of the prestigious David Bedford Award. Recent highlights include a song-cycle entitled It was born of the Stars for Glyndebourne, Parallel, an Olympics-inspired musical commissioned by the Salisbury Playhouse, two melodramas for narrator and piano for the actor Timothy West, and several instrumental and choral pieces which have been performed in concert series, including the King’s Lynn Festival, Denver Cathedral Concerts and Musiques à Pontorson in France. Laika the Spacedog toured the UK extensively as part of the ETO national tour and was featured in European Opera Day and on BBC 2’s Stargazing Live. It has subsequently been selected as one of the principal works to be performed and broadcast at the Armel Opera Festival in Hungary later this year. Russell is currently working on his third opera for English Touring Opera whilst also enjoying collaborating with various ensembles and soloists, including Counterpoise, Svyati Duo, Contempo Ensemble, and pianist Julian Toha, all of whom have commissioned pieces to be performed or recorded over the next year. Russell is also active as a pianist, teaches Composition and Musicianship at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and is an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
Edward Rushton is one of the most promising and original British composers of his generation, as demonstrated by his operas Birds. Barks. Bones. Trojan Trilogy of 2004, The Shops of 2007 and other works. Rushton studied at Chetham’s School of Music, King’s College, Cambridge, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Zurich Conservatoire, his composition teachers including Robin Holloway and James MacMillan. He now works as a freelance composer and pianist. Recent works have been commissioned for and played by such groups as the Endymion Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Schubert Ensemble, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Faber Music, Camerata Zürich, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Vokalensemble Cantapella and the Orchestra of the National Theatre Mannheim. Rushton has been particularly active composing operas: The Young Man with the Carnation was premiered by The Opera Group in July 2002 at Almeida Opera in London; Leinen aus Smyrna (libretto: Dagny Gioulami) was joint-winner of the Teatro Minimo competition organised by Opernhaus Zürich and the Bavarian State Opera in 2001; the resulting commission for a full-length opera (Harley) was premiered at the Opernhaus Zürich in November 2005. Philoctetes, a companion-piece to Leinen aus Smyrna, was commissioned by The Opera Group, and the first performance of Birds. Barks. Bones was given to great acclaim at the Cheltenham Festival in July 2004; it subsequently won a British Composer Award for Best Stagework. The State Theatre of Hanover commissioned a chamber opera on Wilhelm Busch’s Die fromme Helene (2007) and The Opera Group performed The Shops at various venues in 2008.
One the most prominent composers active in the UK, John Casken has written music for a variety of forces from chamber music to large-scale orchestral, and from vocal and choral music to opera. The titles of his works reveal that he can be inspired both by literature and legend, and by landscape and painting. His first opera, Golem, based on the Jewish legend of the same name, was written in collaboration with Pierre Audi for the 1989 Almeida Festival. It brought Casken the First Britten Prize for Composition in 1990 and a Virgin Classics recording. The opera has received six further productions since 1989. Casken’s second opera, God’s Liar, elaborated Tolstoy’s novella Father Sergius and was jointly commissioned and presented by the Almeida Festival, London, and Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie, Brussels, in 2001, directed by Keith Warner. His friendship with the Northern Sinfonia has resulted in a number of works: Maharal Dreaming (1989), the Cello Concerto, written for Heinrich Schiff, premièred at the 1991 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and Darting the Skiff, for strings, first performed at the 1993 Cheltenham Festival with the composer conducting, and subsequently toured in Germany, Austria and Spain. In 1999, the orchestra gave the première of the orchestral version of Après un silence for violin and chamber orchestra, with Kyra Humphreys (violin) and conducted by Nicholas Kraemer, a gift to the orchestra in its 40th anniversary year. This work is an orchestration of the original work for violin and piano which Casken wrote for Lesley Hatfield, the then Leader of Northern Sinfonia. The latest collaboration with Northern Sinfonia is Farness – three poems of Carol Ann Duffy (2006) for soprano, solo viola and chamber orchestra. It was premièred at the 2006 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, conducted by Thomas Zehetmair, with Patricia Rozario, soprano, and Ruth Killius, viola. A number of Casken’s works reflect aspects of the landscape and literature of the North of England, where he lives in Coquetdale in Northumberland: Orion Over Farne (1984, for orchestra), To Fields We Do Not Know (1985), a Northumbrian Elegy for unaccompanied chorus, and the orchestral song-cycle Still Mine, written for Thomas Allen for the 1992 BBC Proms. Casken’s Violin Concerto was premièred at the 1995 Proms and his first symphony – Symphony (Broken Consort) – which includes a gypsy ensemble within the orchestra, was commissioned by the BBC for the 2004 Proms.
David Matthews was born in London in 1943 and started composing at the age of sixteen. He read Classics at the University of Nottingham – which has also made him an Honorary Doctor of Music – and afterwards studied composition privately with Anthony Milner. He was also much helped by the advice and encouragement of Nicholas Maw. He spent three years as an assistant to Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh in the late 1960s. He has largely avoided teaching, but to support his composing career has done editorial work – he collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony – and orchestrations of film music. He has also written books on the music of Michael Tippett and Britten. He published a lecture on the relation of music to painting, Landscape into Sound, and reviews for various journals. Matthews is Music Advisor to the English Chamber Orchestra and formerly Artistic Director of the Deal Festival. His music is widely played in Britain and abroad, is frequently broadcast, and many of his works are available on CD. His musical language on the one hand grew out of his English background and his special concern for the music of Tippett, Britten and Maw; but it is also strongly connected to the central European tradition, back through Mahler and ultimately to Beethoven. Matthews has been much concerned with working in the great inherited forms of the past – symphony, string quartet, lately oratorio – and finding new ways of renewing them. To date he has written seven symphonies and eleven string quartets; also four symphonic poems – two of which, In the Dark Time and Chaconne, have recently been recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the NMC label. His numerous chamber works include commissions by the Schubert Ensemble, Nash Ensemble, Brodsky Quartet, Brindisi Quartet and many others; vocal music includes a dramatic scena, Cantiga, for soprano and orchestra, premiered at the 1988 Proms, and a large-scale Vespers for soloists, chorus and orchestra for the Huddersfield Choral Society. His large-scale work Concerto in Azzurro is a cello concerto for Steven Isserlis and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales which was premiered in October 2002 in Swansea with Richard Hickox.
Jean Hasse was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1958, and graduated from Oberlin College Conservatory, Ohio, specialising in piano, conducting and instrumental music education. A varied career as a teacher, multi-instrumentalist, concert producer, music copyist, editor and publisher has included managing Margun Music (then owned by Gunther Schuller) and acting as the US and Canadian Representative for Faber Music Ltd., London, as well as forming her own publishing company, Visible Music, in 1987. She has received fellowships for composing residencies at the MacDowell Colony (NH) and the Millay Colony for the Arts (NY) and has received commissions from many solo performers and chamber ensembles in the US and UK. As a music copyist and editor she has worked for several publishing companies and for dozens of composers, including John Williams, Ornette Coleman and Paul McCartney. She recently did the music score preparation work for the UK feature film The Killing of John Lennon. She moved to England in December 1994 and works as a composer, pianist, teacher and publisher. In September 2006 she completed an MA degree at Bristol University, focusing on Composing for Film and Television (MAFTV). Hasse’s music has been heard throughout the United States and Europe, in Canada, Japan and Australia, with performances at venues including the Tanglewood Music Center, Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, London’s South Bank Centre, Barbican Centre, Wigmore Hall, the British Museum, St Paul’s Cathedral, St George’s Hall Bristol and at numerous festivals. Jean now composes for films, videos, websites and special events, along with new concert music pieces. She has taught Composition at the University of Bristol, where she is now Course Tutor for the MAFTV in Composition. In October 2007, her new chamber orchestra score accompanied the 1926 silent film Faust, in performances in Bristol and at the Barbican Centre. In November 2008, as part of a trio, she performed her new score to the 1925 film The Rat, in Bristol. In July 2009 she accompanied several silent films at an international conference on colour film and restoration in Bristol. Other recent commissions include new scores for the silent films Mabel’s Dramatic Career (solo piano accompaniment), Ghosts Before Breakfast and The Fall of the House of Usher (both for Counterpoise).
Ross Lorraine was born in Bristol in 1955. He studied music at King’s College Cambridge with Hugh Wood and at King’s College London with David Lumsdaine. He obtained a PhD in Composition supervised by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, for whom he worked as an assistant, and later as his editor at Universal Edition. He initially trained and worked as a music therapist. Since the early 1990s he has been lecturing part-time in composition and related subjects at King’s College London, Goldsmith’s College and the Chelsea College of Art, and working as a freelance editor. He is currently composer-in-residence at King’s College School, Wimbledon. Some of his earliest compositions were written for the cult ‘systems’ music group The Lost Jockey, with whom he performed in the early 1980s. His composition No Way was performed many times by them, and broadcast on Radio 3. Through the experience of playing jazz and improvised music his style then evolved towards a more experimental idiom, culminating in an ongoing series of virtuoso solo pieces written for some of the top performers of contemporary music in the UK, including Anton Lukoszevieze (movements and acts for cello), Andrew Sparling (new work for bass clarinet) and Ian Pace (Tacet and Attacca for piano). He has also written for many contemporary music ensembles such as the Arditti Quartet, Ensemble Exposé and Lontano, and his music has been performed in festivals throughout Europe, and in the USA and the Far East, and broadcast several times on Radio 3 and elsewhere. A particular interest in the relationship between music and painting developed through the experience of performing graphic scores (with groups such as Edges); he has given several lectures and workshops in this area and was the introductory speaker at the South Bank Centre’s day devoted to the subject. His two interviews with Harrison Birtwistle on music and painting were published in the Musical Times. He was the co-founder, along with David Ryan, of Dal Niente: an organisation devoted to promoting concerts of music by important composers of the recent past. A collaboration with playwright Rob Young led to the highly successful music-theatre piece Ex, performed in the Battersea Arts Centre’s Opera season. Other theatre work includes music for Whistling Psyche at the Almeida Theatre. He has written several modern tangos, including two for the London based band Tango Volcano. Tango X featured on their debut CD, and was broadcast on the BBC World Service. It has also been performed by the contemporary ensemble Chroma. He has also written music for amateurs and beginners, including two pieces for The Light Touch, a collection of trumpet and piano pieces published by Stainer & Bell. Forthcoming projects include the release of New Work and Tacet on CD, and a new piece for Uroboros.