Andrew Toovey

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Andrew Toovey (b. 1962 London) is a classical composer, and recipient of composition awards including the Tippett Prize, Terra Nova Prize, the Bernard Shore Viola Composition Award and an RVW Trust Award. Two portrait CDs of his music were released on the Largo label in 1998, and many individual pieces are represented on others CD labels including NMC. His music is partially published by Boosey and Hawkes, and most of his output is available to view on YouTube on his own channel. He has worked extensively on education projects for Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Huddersfield Festival, the South Bank Centre and the London Festival Orchestra, and has been composer-in-residence at Opera Factory and the South Bank Summer School.[1] He is now a full-time composer, but used to teach part-time at Bishop Ramsey School, Ruislip, Middlesex and Alperton Community School in Wembley. He currently teaches composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire part of BCU, and has been awarded an M3C grant to compose for a PhD. [2]

Toovey consciously places himself outside what he regards as useless or outmoded conventions, whilst reserving the right to draw on, allude to, shoplift from absolutely anywhere. Not only are Toovey’s musical sympathies unusually diverse and deliberately unaligned to the readymade categories of our recent past (minimalism, neo-Romanticism, new complexity), but the fundamental stylistic “gesture” can be as readily compared to the visual arts as to any music - to the work of Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg or Stanley Hayter.

Andrew Toovey studied composition with Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy and briefly with Morton Feldman. After completing his BMus(hons) music degree at the University of Surrey he went on to take both an MA and MPhil at the University of Sussex, specialising in both composition and aesthetics. He also did a secondary school PGCE at the institute of Education at London University.

Toovey was associate composer for the Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) from 1993-5 and has been the artistic director of the new music ensemble IXION since 1987. He was composer-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Canada for four successive years with his two operas and music theatre works. Two CDs of his music were released on the Largo label in 1998. He has worked extensively on education projects for Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Huddersfield Festival, the South Bank Centre and the London Festival Orchestra, and has been composer-in-residence at Opera Factory and the South Bank Summer School.

Toovey's works have been performed throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. His works have also been featured at the Bergen, Brighton, Gaudeamus, Huddersfield and ISCM festivals and the Darmstadt and Dartington International Summer School. His music has been frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and various European radio stations.

Toovey's work embraces a huge diversity of influences, from musical extremes such as Feldman and Finnissy, or the poetry of Artaud, Cummings and Rilke, to a passion for 20th-century art - especially that by Bacon, Beuys, Davies, Hayter, Klee, Miro, Newman, Rauschenberg, Riley, Rothko and many more.

Recent commissions have included Music for the Painter Jack Smith (Brighton Festival), Dutch Dykes (De Ereprijs), Self-portrait as a Tiger! (Ensemble Reconsil Wein), Going Home (Szymanowski String Quartet). He was commissioned by the BBC to write a viola concerto, premiered by Lawrence Power and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow. He also composed a half-hour orchestral suite based on music from his first opera UBU also for the BBC conducted by IIan Volkov. He is currently writing a series of concertos for various performers including Andrew Smith (clarinet), Charles Mutter (violin), and Michael Finnissy (piano). Also pieces for the Thallein Ensemble (Verboten?), Ian Pace ( solo piano) - First Out, and vocal settings, with violin - The way it is now. Longer terms compositions include an opera 'Narrow Rooms' based on a novel by James Purdy to a libretto by Michael Finnissy.

Other commissions have included Acrobats, for COMA, mini opera I'll be there for you, commissioned by English Touring Opera, solo violin work Transparencies written for an exhibition of artist Julian Grater, and Noh for solo cello written for sculptor John Davies.

He teaches Composition at BCU Birmingham Conservatoire.

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