Anthony Powers (born 13 March 1953) is a British composer of classical music.
Born in London, England, he took private tuition with Elisabeth Lutyens and Harrison Birtwistle between 1969 and 1971, and also with Nadia Boulanger in Paris from 1972 to 1973. Between 1973 and 1976 he went to the University of York, where he studied with David Blake and Bernard Rands (a pupil of Boulez and Berio), to obtain a DPhil in Composition. He went on to teach at Dartington College of Arts for two years and then went on to become composer-in-residence at Southern Arts. In 1987 he moved on to teach at Cardiff University, where he became composer-in-residence in 1990 and was Professor of Composition from 2004 until 2010. He was Chairman of the Association of Professional Composers between 1995 and 1997.
Powers has received a number of high profile commissions (for example, from the BBC and the Three Choirs Festival Society, amongst others) and his works have been performed both in Britain and abroad.
Powers has written over sixty works, including four string quartets, two symphonies, a cello concerto, a horn concerto, as well as many choral and chamber works. He displays a vast array of influences in his output - from the Black Mountains to 16th/17th-century Italian gardens, from Monteverdi to William Walton. He has done settings of texts by Wordsworth, Lawrence Durrell, Shelley, Baudelaire, Philip Larkin and many others.
Below is a summary of some of his key works:
Stone, Water, Stars (1987), commissioned for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, is the third part of a trilogy inspired by the ambiance and architecture of Venice. The other two works that belong to this trilogy are the Chamber Concerto (1983/4) and Venexiana (1985). Powers quotes melodic ideas from both the Chamber Concerto and Venexiana in Stone, Water, Stars, so the trilogy is linked in both theme and material. Powers explains that, in this piece, he ‘used the proportions, borrowed from renaissance architecture and Leonardo's studies of the human form, to govern some other aspects of the music from large shapes to the smallest rhythmic details.’ 
The 'Cello Concerto (1990) was commissioned for the King's Lynn Festival, specifically written for the 'cellist Stephen Isserlis and dedicated to the Artistic Adviser of the King's Lynn Festival, Meirion Bowen. The concerto is in three movements: I. Molto Moderato, II. Allegro molto, leggiero ma energico and III. Adagio - two slow movements surrounding a faster middle movement. One important aspect of the Cello Concerto is the prominence of the piano (alongside the 'cello) as can be heard in the opening passage of the work. Material heard at first upon one instrument returns later in the piece, elaborated and morphed, on the other. Another important feature of the work is its lyricism. Although some of the writing for the soloist and orchestra is at times quite turbulent, a number of critics have commented on the "reflective" nature of the piece.
The Horn Concerto (1989) was written for the horn player Michael Thompson. It is both similar and different to the Cello Concerto. Unlike, the Cello Concerto, the Horn Concerto is in only two movements ('Madrigals of Love and War' and 'Winter Journeys'), but the overall thematic shape is very similar, whereby, in the words of John Warnaby, 'an element of conflict is gradually superseded by affirmative lyricism' . Of the Second Movement, Powers comments, 'The soloist leads the orchestra from desolation towards a new and serene prospect and an exuberant close where the music which was extinguished by the first orchestral outburst of the work is now secure and confident.' . A notable aspect of the Horn Concerto is that it was, to some extent, influenced by Powers visits to Czechoslovakia in 1986 and 1988. Powers explains that; ‘The concerto seemed to be, on one level at least, a history, in music, of Czechoslovakia from 1968 to 1989.’ 
Anthony Powers' First Symphony was written between 1994 and 1996. He points out in the programme notes that he did not necessarily set out to write a symphony but as he continued his work, that is what it was appearing to become. In the programme notes to the work, Powers speaks of working with the "friendly ghosts of the symphonic tradition". In this work he uses abstract and modern material in a traditional form. Like a lot of his works, the Symphony is a fight between light and dark. Different families of the orchestra wrestle with each other for supremacy in the overall sound, sometimes resorting to violent themes; at others, resorting to lyricism. The symphony has had a number of good reviews. Andrew Burn writes of how this symphony demonstrates Powers' 'mastery of extended large-scale structures'. Nicholas Jones, too, comments on this, writing about the 'evident assuredness of Powers's handling of the symphonic genre'. Nicholas Jones also compliments Power's 'wonderful' orchestration.
A Picture of the World (2001) was commissioned by the BBC and is a setting of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Powers' mentor Elisabeth Lutyens also set this text in her motet, Excerpta Tractatus. However, Powers points out that the reason he picked the text was not because of Lutyens, but because of the interest he had in the text - he felt it was complex and had been misinterpreted. In his article in The Guardian, Harry Eyres points out the strange instrumentation of the piece, which utilises unaccompanied choir, counter-tenor and clarinet. Powers explains that he uses a counter-tenor because 'Wittgenstein had an unusually high speaking voice' and the solo counter-tenor and clarinet act as the voice of the philosopher, supported by the unaccompanied choir.
Powers has written a number of works which utilise an unaccompanied choir. For example Lullaby (1991) and Lullo by Lollo (1993) were both written for unaccompanied SATB choir and also O Magnum Mysterium (1995), which was written for unaccompanied SSAATTBB choir.
Airs and Angels (2003) was commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival Society for the Three Choirs Festival held in Hereford in 2003. It was heard at the festival alongside works by great British composers such as Parry and Elgar. Airs and Angels is a setting of seven of John Donne’s (1572–1631) poems, scored for soprano, baritone, SATB chorus and orchestra (with the orchestra including an electric guitar and a bass guitar). At the work’s centre lies the ‘dark and intense’  setting of 'A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy’s Day' and the surrounding settings move towards and away from this central darkness. In the programme notes to the work Powers discusses Donne’s language as being ‘stunning in its immediacy, suggestive in its ambiguity and often surprising in its modernity... even if at times his imagery is knotty and 'difficult'.’ Powers goes onto pontificate on whether ‘music, with its greater expressive range, its forms unfolding in time, can help to explain such language.’ 
From Station Island (2003) is a setting of Seamus Heaney's set of poems entitled Station Island. The work is scored for male speaker, baritone, flute (inc. piccolo and alto flute), clarinet, percussion, harp, violin, and 'cello. Station Island consists of twelve "substantial" poems, which Powers had to abridge. He reduced the number of poems to nine and cut each of those down to suit his purposes. As in Another Part of the Island (see below), certain instrumental parts take on certain personas. Station Island is can be seen as autobiographical so Powers assigns the male speaker the "role" of the poet and the baritone acts as 'the numerous characters from past and present whom the poet meets'. At the West Cork Music Festival in Ireland in June 2005, the work received its Irish premiere and the male speaker role was performed by Seamus Heaney himself.
Another Part of the Island (1980, revised in 1994) is a chamber work in four movements written for flute (including an alto flute and a piccolo), clarinet, piano, percussion, violin and 'cello. The premiere of this work was performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in May 1982 and it was conducted by John Carewe. The island referred to in the title is the imaginary island that appears in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Powers points out that although the piece is not "programme music", the instruments can be seen as playing characters from the play - the 'cello as the part of Prospero; the flute, that of Ariel; the clarinet as Caliban and the violin plays the role of Miranda.
His chamber works include a number of solo works, for example:
- Nocturnes: book 2 (1984) for solo cello
- Barcarola (1987) for solo viola
- In Two Minds (1991) for solo oboe
- Nature Studies (1992) for solo guitar
Other chamber works include his four string quartets (1987, 1991, 1999, 2005), as well as works such as the early Nymphéas (1983); the wind quintet, Capricci; In Shadow (1989), for oboe and piano; In Sunlight (1993) for violin and piano and Fast Colours (1997) for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello.
Powers has written a number of works for piano, including Flyer (for two pianos) (2004), Piano Sonata No. 1 (1983), Piano Sonata No. 2 (1986) and Sensing (2003). However, the best known of his piano works is The Memory Room (1990/1).
The Memory Room is a work for solo piano that lasts for around seventeen minutes which was written for, and dedicated to, William Howard. Howard premiered the piece at the Lichfield Festival on 10 July 1992. The Memory Room is not a large-scale work, as the two previous Piano Sonatas were, but rather it consists of sixteen short 'pieces':
- i. (senza tempo)
- ii. Martellato, furioso
- iii. Andante tranquillo
- iv. Mesto, espressivo
- v. Vivo
- vi. Adagio non troppo
- vii. Largo
- viii. (senza tempo)
- ix. Presto e leggiero
- x. Lento, meccanico
- xi. Tranquillo
- xii. Allegro energico
- xiii. (senza tempo)
- xiv. Allegro molto
- xv. Lento e calmo - Song Without Words
- xvi. (senza tempo)
In the programme notes to the piece Powers writes that 'the music evokes, and alludes to, a wide variety of keyboard styles from the 16th to the 20th centuries, from classical to rock.'  A critic writing in The Musical Times points out that Powers integrates these keyboard styles into his own style so effectively that 'they are mere ghosts or shadows of their former selves'. The critic, personally, finds traces of Bach, Debussy, Chopin and even a bit of boogie-woogie, but he also points out that the ghostly references could well be missed or bring other memories to audience members.
In 2003, Powers wrote a second piece for Howard, entitled Vista, and Powers explains that Vista was the first piece in a planned sequence of pieces all reflecting on or interpreting 'aspects of Italian renaissance and baroque gardens.' 
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (July 2010)|
- Anthony Powers at Oxford University Press [OUP] - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/
- Andrew Burn. "Powers, Anthony." In Grove Music Online, accessed 07/11/2008 - http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/45627 (subscription access only)
- John Warnaby, 'New Powers' in Tempo, New Series, No. 180, March 1992, pp.22-24 - http://www.jstor.org/stable/944727 (subscription access only)
- Programme notes to Stone, Water, Stars at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotess-z/#ston
- Programme notes to Cello Concerto at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesa-f/#cell
- John Warnaby comments on the piece's reflective nature in 'New Powers' in Tempo, New Series, No. 180, March 1992, pp.22-24 - http://www.jstor.org/stable/944727 (subscription access only) as does Nicholas Jones in 'Anthony Powers at 50: Luminous but with Shadows', in The Musical Times, Vol.144, No.1884, (Autumn 2003), pp.26-35 - http://www.jstor.org/stable/3650698 (subscription access only)
- Programme notes on the Horn Concerto at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesg-k/#horn
- Ibid, http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesg-k/#horn
- programme notes on his (first) Symphony at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotess-z/#symp
- Nicholas Jones, 'Anthony Powers at 50: Luminous but with Shadows', in The Musical Times, Vol.144, No.1884, (Autumn 2003), pp.26-35 - http://www.jstor.org/stable/3650698 (subscription access only)
- Harry Eyres, 'Sing-along-a-Wittgenstein: Why would anyone want to set one of the world's most daunting philosophical tracts to music?', The Guardian, 4 October 2001 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2001/oct/04/artsfeatures.arts
- Ibid - http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2001/oct/04/artsfeatures.arts
- Rian Evans, Review of the 'Three Choirs Festival, Hereford Cathedral' in The Guardian, 26 August 2003 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2003/aug/26/classicalmusicandopera1
- Programme notes to Airs and Angels at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesa-f/#aira
- Programme notes to From Station Island at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesa-f/#from
- Article in Oxford Music Now, Issue, 26 (Winter 2005), Oxford University Press, p.3 - http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/music/OMN26.pdf
- Programme notes on Another Part of the Island at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesa-f/#anot
- Programme Notes for The Memory Room at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesl-r/#memr
- Ibid - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotesl-r/#memr
- Programme Notes to Vista at the OUP website - http://www.oup.co.uk/music/repprom/powers/prognotess-z/#vist