Edward Gregson (born 1945) is one of Britain's most respected composers, whose music has been performed, broadcast and recorded worldwide. He studied composition (with Alan Bush) and piano at the Royal Academy of Music from 1963-7, winning five prizes for composition. He received early success with his Brass Quintet, which was broadcast and recorded (by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the Hallé Brass Consort). This was followed by many commissions from, amongst others, the English Chamber Orchestra and the York Festival. Since then he has written orchestral, chamber, instrumental and choral music, as well as music for the theatre, film and television. Most of his music has been broadcast and much of it is commercially recorded.
His major orchestral works include Music for Chamber Orchestra (1968), Metamorphoses (1979), Contrasts - a concerto for orchestra (1983 rev 2001), and Blazon (1992), as well as a major series of concertos. In recent years he has completed commissions for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Bournemouth Symphony and the BBC Philharmonic (for whom he wrote his Clarinet Concerto in 1994 - premiered by Michael Collins). In the last few years he has completed a major choral/orchestral work entitled The Dance, forever the Dance which was premiered in St Albans Abbey in 1999, and a Violin Concerto (a commission from the Hallé orchestra) which received its première at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester in 2000, with soloist Lyn Fletcher and the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano.
He has also written a wide range of chamber and instrumental music, from his early Oboe Sonata of 1965, written when he was a student at the RAM, to his Six Little Pieces for piano (1982) and his larger scale Piano Sonata in one movement of 1983. His concerti for wind instruments are established repertoire in many countries and he has also written major works for wind band - Festivo (1985), The Sword and the Crown (1991) and The Kings go Forth (1996) and brass band - Connotations (1997), Dances and Arias (1984), Of Men and Mountains (1991) and The Trumpets of the Angels (2000)
His music for the theatre includes commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company - The Plantagenets trilogy (1988) and Henry IV parts 1 and 2 (1990) - and the York Cycle of Mystery Plays (1976 and 1980). In 1988 he was nominated for an Ivor Novello award for his title music for BBC Television's Young Musician of the Year programmes, for which he has also regularly officiated as a jury member and broadcaster. His main publisher since 1967 has been Novello.
In February 2002, a festival of his music was mounted at the Royal Northern College of Music, in collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic. The festival took the form of a retrospective of his music from 1965 to the present day, with the main concert being given by the BBC Philharmonic under Martyn Brabbins, with soloists Michael Collins (Clarinet Concerto) and Olivier Charlier (Violin Concerto). These two concertos were recorded in Studio 7 at the same time for a CD on the Chandos label which was released in 2003.
Edward Gregson is Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, having previously held the position of Professor of Music at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is an Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Manchester and in 1996 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Sunderland (his city of birth). He is a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, and the Royal College of Music. He was Chairman of the Association of Professional Composers (UK) from 1989-1991 and has represented British composers' interests internationally on many occasions. He is currently a Director of the Performing Right Society, the Hallé Orchestra, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music; a governor of Chetham's School of Music, and a trustee of the National Foundation for Youth Music.
Photo credit: John Clark