Sonic Coast [5] Beaminster School – Biographies

Composers’ Biographies

Simon Cummings – Simon was born in 1973 in Cheltenham. He studied composition, conducting and organ at the Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating in 1997 with the Creative Studies prize. Aided by a substantial grant from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Cummings studied privately with Richard Barrett in Amsterdam, at the same time studying sonology and composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Upon completion of his Masters degree, he returned to England and took up the post of Assistant Director of Music at Christ Church, Cheltenham, where he remained for three and a half years. Cummings is currently pursuing a PhD in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire, under the supervision of Richard Causton and Michael Finnissy.

John Strieder – Born 1980 in Germany, John is a composer and artist. His music has its origin in both the European modernism and current forms of contemporary music, as well as the achievements of cultures outside of Europe. He is also interested in innovative forms of the underground music scenes, e.g. metal and glitch.

The music he writes exclusively depicts inner processes, being an expression of emotional, intellectual and philosophical content, conveyed just through the music itself.

As an artist, he is working with digital, traditional and mixed media.

The interest in working cross-borders also showed up on his cooperation with the German Math Metal band „War From A Harlots Mouth“, where contemporary meets complex metal music.

Stephen Kilpatrick studied composition and musicology at the Universities of Manchester and Salford. He has also studied privately with Michael Finnissy.

He has composed for Psappha’s Richard Casey and Tim Williams, Expatrio, Rarescale and Voxare. In 2010 his opera, Flight Paths, was commissioned as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and it was premiered in Bridlington and Leeds in 2011. As a commercial composer, he has composed music for BBC Radio Four, Channel 4 and Capcom and he has worked as a composer and sound designer on a number of contemporary theatre projects.

Aaron Holloway-Nahum – Music by Aaron Holloway-Nahum has recently been commissioned and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Clarinetist Timothy Orpen.  In 2014, Aaron will attend the Aspen Music Festival as a fully funded composer, write a new work for Third Coast Percussion, will have a 5-week residency at the home of Aaron Copland (‘Copland House Awards’) and will write his third and fourth pieces for players from the London Symphony as part of their ‘Soundhub Scheme’.  Music by Aaron has been performed around the world and recorded in Abbey Road and Maida Vale Studios.  He has had multiple pieces broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and regularly appears as a radio host on ResonanceFM.  Aaron is also the chief conductor and Artistic Director of The Riot Ensemble.  (

Benjamin Graves – Since achieving his Masters in Composition, with distinction, from the Guildhall School – with generous support from The Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers, The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers, the Guildhall Trust and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust – Benjamin’s works have been performed widely, either by himself, as clarinettist, or others across the UK and abroad. His music has been heard in venues in Royaumont, France; Darmstadt, Germany and Aldeburgh; Birmingham; Durham; Oxford and London’s Air Studios, Barbican, LSO St. Luke’s, the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, The Place, Southbank, and the Wigmore Hall. Broadcasts include BBC radio 3 and Resonance 104.4 FM. Festival premieres include the City of London and Aldeburgh festivals. Recent projects include a work for large orchestra as part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composer Scheme and he is currently undertaking a course at the Choreographic Research and Composition Programme of the Royaumont Foundation in France with generous support from the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust. He is co-founder of the critically acclaimed dance and music company Sounding Motion who perform extensively across the UK in theatres, studios and education projects, with generous support from the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.

Darren Bloom – Darren Bloom’s music has been praised for its ‘unrelenting intensity’, ‘evocative harmonies’ and ‘raw power which seems to sweep everything before it.’  His works have been performed across Europe and the USA in venues and festivals including the Eroica Hall (Vienna), many of London’s major performance venues, the Sounds New Festival and the Tête à Tête and Grimeborn Opera Festivals.  He has written for ensembles and musicians including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, BBC Singers, Ossian Ensemble, Ensemble Amorpha, Consortium 5, violist Paul Silverthorne, violinists David Worswick, Emma McGrath and Aisha Orazbayeva and guitarist Manus Noble.  Recent commissions have come from the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Society and Park Lane Group.  Darren’s chamber work Strange Attractorswas selected by the UK panel of the International Society for Contemporary Music to represent the UK, and his chamber opera KETTLEHEAD was recently created as part of his second year of residence with the London Symphony Orchestra as a member of their Soundhub Scheme.

Originally from the smog-shrouded foothills of Los Angeles, Darren grew up playing violin and attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA).  At the tender age of 16, he became increasingly aware of his inherent limitations as a violinist and, as luck would have it, his burgeoning desire to stay up all night composing music.  Buoyed by the creative atmosphere at LACHSA, he began attending composition classes and soon found that his future in music would not be limited to out of tune violin etudes and under-tempo showpieces.  In 2000 he fled the tinderbox of LA for the dank streets of London to study composition at the Royal College of Music with Edwin Roxburgh, and in 2004 he began his studies with Brian Elias at the Royal Academy of Music where he was subsequently awarded a Masters Degree with distinction and a DipRAM.  Following his degrees, he became the first composer in RAM history to hold the Manson Composition Fellowship for two years and spent an illuminating summer studying with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the Dartington International Summer School.

Darren is a founding member/composer/conductor of the London based Ossian Ensemble, a group specialising in theatrical productions and virtuoso performances of contemporary music.  As a conductor, he has recorded music by Joseph Atkins for BBC documentaries, worked with members of the LSO and BBCSO, the London Sinfonietta (assistant to Christopher Austin), Ensemble Amorpha, City Side Sinfonia, Contemporary Consort, RAM Composers Ensemble, Sounds New Festival, York Late Music Festival and the Austrian Cultural Forum Soundings Festival.  Darren studied conducting with Edwin Roxburgh, Neil Thompson and Christopher Austin.

Much in demand as an educator, Darren works for the Trinity Laban Conservatiore Junior Department and Wellington College teaching composition, theory and musicianship and is Composer-in-Residence at Forest School where his students have won numerous national awards, including BBC Young Composer of the Year.  He also founded two pioneering junior contemporary music ensembles (Forest School and Trinity Laban) with which he’s given the premieres of dozens of works by young composers.  Darren can now be found roaming the semi-rural forests in Essex where he lives with his wife, a virtuoso recorder player and baroque flautist for whom he’s written several works, and their two young children.

Mic Spencer – Born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Michael Spencer studied composition with Graham Hair at the University of Glasgow where he received an MA in Music and Scottish Literature. Between 1997 and 2002, he completed a MusM and PhD in Composition with Geoff Poole at Manchester University. Between 1998 and 2004, he worked privately with James Dillon.

His music has been performed at the Henze Festival (RNCM), St Cyprian’s Church (London), the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (twice short-listed for the Young Composers’ Competition in 2000 and 2003), Instal 2002 (Glasgow), Maxis 2003 Festival (Leeds), in workshops by the Apollo Sax Quartet, Psappha, in France, Canada, at the Darmstädter Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Germany, 2004 and 2012, and extensively at Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds Universities. Toxic Knuckle Bones was performed by the BBC Philharmonic under James MacMillan on Radio 3’s Hear and Now programme in 2001. He has worked with notable performers such as Ensemble SurPlus, Ian Pace, Richard Casey, Modelo62, Trio Atem, Apartment House, Christophe de Bezenac, Adam Starkie and Geoff Poole. In 2003, he received a stipend to attend the International Summer Course for Composers at Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, where he worked with Chaya Czernowin, Steve Takasugi and Richard Barrett. His work la mer allée avec le soleil was performed there by Ensemble SurPlus and subsequently by them in Stuttgart and Freiburg.

Since 2002 he has worked in the School of Music at the University of Leeds where he is currently Associate Professor of Music, Deputy Head of School and Head of Composition.

At the University of Leeds he runs and conducts the new music ensemble LSTwo which has performed under his artistic direction Stockhausen’s Kreuzspiel, Varèse’s Intégrales, Lachenmann’s …zwei Gefühle…, Musik mit Leonardo, Grisey’s Vortex Temporum and Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître, Chaya Czernowin’s ‘Afatsim, Beat Furrer’s Gaspra, Stäbler’s Luftspiegelungen – Ein Spiel fur Sieben and a range of premières of postgraduate student work. He has published several articles on the creative process as well as on James Dillon’s music.

Spencer’s recent work includes Ungrund (after Boehme) V for Trio Atem using text fragments by Heraclitus in a collaborative project with William Hutson, premiered in March 2013, another new piece in his Ungrund cycle for Adam Starkie (solo clarinet) with ensemble was premiered in April 2013, and an article on the string quartets of James Dillon to be published by CMR later in 2014. Ungrund II (after Böhme) for solo clarinet/kick-drum (one player) was premièred in Strasbourg by Starkie before receiving its UK première in Leeds, April 2010. It recently received another performance at MusicA Festival, Strasbourg. Ungrund (after Boehme) I for chamber ensemble was premièred by Ensemble Modelo62 as part of their UK Urbane Tour. The Eemis Stane – Homage to K.S. Sorabji is available on a CD collection of new piano music recorded by Aleks Szram (fonorum label 2005) and his piano piece Message from Aiwass X (on his Horoscope) has also been released on CD (Joyous Lake on primafacie records, performed by his past mentor Geoff Poole, to whom the piece is dedicated). His recent work for solo cello, Verdrängung von der Aufhebung was premiered in Darmstadt by Andrej Gal. Current work in progress includes a large scale project entitled Intervolve which explores the possibilities of the double bass within the framework of the thinking of Michel Foucault. He is also writing a new work for ELISION ensemble (oboe, trumpet and percussion), a new piece for the ensemble Workers Union and a work for organ voice and electronics for Lauren Redhead.

Marc Yeats music is performed, commissioned and broadcast worldwide. Transduction, complex surface relationships, asynchronous alignments, contextual, harmonic and temporal ambiguities, polarised intensities and a visceral joy of sound are all primary concerns.

. . . . . ‘how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!’ . . . .
(William Shakespeare: Richard II, 5.5.42-9)

Marc Yeats is a composer and visual artist. His intense music has received performances and broadcast around the world including The Edinburgh String Quartet (UK), the Chamber Group of Scotland (UK), Psappha (UK), Richard Casey, Stephen Combes, the London Sinfonietta (UK), the Endymion Ensemble (UK), Lonba (Argentina), Paragon Ensemble (UK), the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (UK), illegal harmony (UK), 175 East (N.Z.), Sarah Watts, SCAW (UK), Sarah Nicolls, Federico Mondelci, the Commonwealth Sinfonietta (UK), Contempo Ensemble (Italy), Rarescale (UK), The Scottish Clarinet Quartet (UK), Symposia (UK), the New York Miniaturists Ensemble (USA), Trio IAMA (Greece), The International Concert Brass Soloists (Switzerland), Dirk Amrein (Germany) Expatrio (UK), Chroma (UK), Kokoro (UK), Consortium5 (UK), Ensemble Amorpha (UK) Chamber Cartel (US), Auditiv Vokal (Germany), the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), the Hallé Orchestra and Chorus (UK) conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Tokyo City Philharmonic (Japan) and Gewandhaus Radio Orchestra (Germany), with broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland as well as US, German, EU, Hawaiian, Japanese and New Zealand radio.

Marc is Composer-in-Association with:
Manchester Pride [Manchester UK]
Chamber Cartel [Atlanta, Georgia US]
SATSYMPH [Bristol/Crewkerne UK]
Composer Curator with Sound and Music 2014/15

Performers’ Biographies

Aisha Orazbayeva [violin]
Musician Aisha Orazbayeva has been described as a “profoundly radical and inventive” violinist (Sound Projector), with “a great talent for playing emotionally and technically demanding music” (Daily Telegraph). As a soloist she has performed at the Aldeburgh, Radio France Montpellier, Klangspuren and Lattitude festivals, and venues including Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s, Café Oto and South Bank in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Palacio de Festivales in Santander and La Maison de Radio France in Paris. Aisha has worked with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Helmut Lachenmann, the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Pierre Boulez and Sir Colin Davies.  Her acclaimed solo album “Outside” features music by Sciarrino and Ravel, and “OUR” violin and computer concerto composed with VCS3 pioneer Peter Zinovieff, and released in 2011. She is currently on tour with the L.A. Dance Project with performances in Cannes, Paris, Istanbul, Spoleto, Toulouse and Basel, and has recently performed in Denmark with cellist Lucy Railton. Future projects include OUR2 with Peter Zinovieff, collaboration with singer Lore Lixenberg and release of her second solo album. Aisha has performed live on BBC Radio 3 and 4, Resonance FM and Kazakh National TV. Other performance broadcasts include Radio France, WQXR New York and ORF Austrian TV.  Her recital for Radio France Montpellier Festival with pianist Matthew Schellhorn was broadcast live on France Musique in July 2013.

Minsi Yang [violin]
Born in Zhongshan, China, Minsi has played in Southbank Sinfonia all the major New Zealand orchestras and ensembles, including New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and NBR National Opera as well as Harakeke Ensemble, Musical Space and Clavino Trio and the Brillig Ensemble.

Stephen Upshaw [viola]
Always in search of new musical horizons, violist Stephen Upshaw is emerging as a creative force on the international music scene.

Since making his concerto debut at 17, he has won several competitions and played in festivals around the world including IMS Prussia Cove, Lucerne, London Ear (where he was a featured artist for two consecutive years), Wien Modern, Oxford Chamber Music, Musica Nova (Finland), and the Salzburg Chamber Music Festival alongside artists such as Gary Hoffman, Philippe Graffin, Jennifer Stumm and the JACK Quartet. In recent seasons, recital and chamber music engagements have brought him to Boston’s Jordan Hall, London’s Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall and Royal Opera House, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus.

A noted interpreter of contemporary music, Stephen has given numerous national and international premieres and performed with groups such as Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Proton (Switzerland) the Harvard Group for New Music, Le Balcon (Paris), Aurora Orchestra and Rambert Orchestra (London) and the Bodø Sinfonietta (Norway), working closely with composers such as John Adams, Heinz Holliger, Julian Anderson, George Benjamin, Christian Wolff and Michael Finnissy, who is currently writing a new piece for Stephen to be premiered at Scotland’s Sound Festival 2014.

A passionate chamber musician, Stephen has studied with, among others, Paul Katz, Ferenc Rados, Alasdair Tait and members of the Takacs, Belcea, Endellion, Arditti and Borromeo Quartets. He was a member of the London-based Geminiani Quartet, who earned first prize in the Alexander and Buono International String Competition and won the ISA prize for their interpretation of music of the Second Viennese School.

Additionally, Stephen has a strong interest in synthesizing music with other fields and has helped realize collaborative projects with the Boston Architectural College, Transport Theatre Company, Rambert Dance Company and Parasol Unit Art Space. He is also the artistic director of “Sounding Motion” – a new company exploring the relationship between live contemporary chamber music and dance. Recognized for his work in this area, Stephen was recently invited to give a presentation at the New England Conservatory on the topic of entrepreneurial musicianshipand interdisciplinary collaboration.

A native of Atlanta, he studied with Dr. Marilyn Seelman before earning a BMus(Hon) from the New England Conservatory in Boston where he studied with Carol Rodland and Martha Strongin-Katz. Additionally, he has appeared in masterclasses with Thomas Riebl, Andras Keller, Kim Kashkashian, Pinchas Zukerman and Nobuko Imai.

Stephen completed his Postgraduate studies in the class of David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he was elected a Junior Fellow, and is grateful for support from the Guildhall School Trust, the Albert Cooper Memorial Trust and the Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust.

Stephen plays a 1715 Daniel Parker school viola currently made available to him by Nigel Brown and the Stradivari Trust.

Patrick Tapio Johnson
“A true artist of the cello, who coped with the myriad challenges of the work in admirable and compelling fashion… a performance that can only be described as revelatory.” – Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion

Patrick Tapio Johnson is a cellist and composer of American and Finnish extraction. His life as a musician began in the Scottish town of Dunfermline. 

Patrick studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where he won competitions in both cello and composition. He also led the cello sections of the RCS Symphony Orchestra, RCS Sinfonietta and the Athenaeum Orchestra. Subsequently, Patrick studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Again he led the cello section of the GSMD Symphony Orchestra, and represented the school in the 2011 City of London Festival.

Patrick is a very passionate promoter of new music, having given world premieres of many works for solo cello, plus many more chamber works. Most recently, Marc Yeats composed the solo cello piece “Pathos” for him, which was given its official premiere in June 2013 – Marc has since been inspired to use “Pathos” as the basis for a new cello concerto, entitled “Logos”, also dedicated to Patrick.

Patrick has performed in many of the UK’s most prestigious venues, including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Hall, and St Martin in the Fields. He has also performed in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, India, and in several cities in China.

Patrick plays on a mysterious 18th century cello, believed to be Italian and converted from a five-string violoncello piccolo.

1 Response to Sonic Coast [5] Beaminster School – Biographies

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