Lyell Cresswell

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Lyell Cresswell (born 1944, Wellington, New Zealand) is a composer of contemporary classical music. He is the younger brother of Max Cresswell. He studied in Wellington, Toronto, Aberdeen and Utrecht. He moved to Scotland in the 1970s[1] and has lived and worked in Edinburgh since 1985. He received the APRA Silver Scroll for his contribution to New Zealand music in 1979 and he won the Ian Whyte Award for the orchestral work Salm in 1978. In 1979, 1981 and 1988 he received a recommendation by the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers. In 2002, Victoria University of Wellington awarded him an honorary D. Mus degree and the inaugural Elgar Bursary.[2]


Cresswell has written music for orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir, voice and solo instruments. His works include several concertos. His concerto for accordion, Dragspil (Icelandic for "accordion"), was commissioned for the BBC Proms and premièred by James Crabb and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 1995 season.[3]

In 2001, the Scottish Arts Council granted him the Creative Scotland Award and commissioned a work, in collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, exploring the issues of exile and identity. His composition Shadows Without Sun combines elements of oratorio, opera, music theatre and cantata. It requires orchestra, singers, speaking voices and recorded voices. The work intertwines the story of exiles living in both Scotland and New Zealand with the story of Cassandra.[4] The Money Man, 2010, was written in collaboration with librettist Ron Butlin with whom Cresswell regularly works.[5]

Cresswell's music is recorded on the Naxos Records label.[1]

List of compositions[edit]


  • Concerto for cello (commissioned for Musica Nova, Glasgow, 1984)
  • Concerto for accordion, Dragspil (BBC Proms, 1995)
  • Concerto for orchestra and string quartet (commissioned by the City of Aberdeen, 1996)
  • Concerto for trombone, Kaea (Scottish Chamber Orchestra, 1997)
  • Concerto for violin and soprano (commissioned by the BBC, 2001)
  • Concerto for chamber orchestra (SCO, 2002)
  • Concerto for piano (2010)

Other orchestral[edit]

  • A Modern Ecstasy (1986)
  • Voices of Ocean Winds (Radio New Zealand, 1989)
  • Ylur (St Magnus Festival, 1991)
  • I Paesaggi dell’anima (Landscapes of the soul), 2008


  • Le Sucre du Printemps, for clarinets


  • The Voice Inside, for soprano, violin and orchestra


  • Shadows Without Sun (2003)
  • The Money Man (2010)


  1. ^ a b Dart, William (7 February 2010). "Nothing left to chance except interpretation". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  2. ^ "Lyell Cresswell". NMC Recordings. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  3. ^ Williams, Nicholas (9 August 1995). "Proms: CRESSWELL'S 'DRAGSPIL' Royal Albert Hall, London". The Independent. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  4. ^ Walker, Lynne (30 December 2003). "Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Lyell Cresswell, SCO/Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow". The independent. Retrieved 25 June 2010.[dead link]
  5. ^ Smith, Rowena (16 May 2010). "Five:15". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 June 2010.