Robert Saxton

News

Performances in 2016 included a UK tour by Clare Hammond performing 'Hortus Musicae' including performances in Welwyn, Derby, and Yatton. Clare will record 'Hortus Musicae' 1 and 2 in August 2017 for a CD of Robert Saxton's piano works for release on Toccata Classics. 'Shakespeare Scenes' was performed by students at the Menuhin School in July with passages from Shakespeare read by Sam West. Robert was featured composer at the Presteigne Festival in August 2016. Performances included the world premiere of 'The Resurrection of the Soldiers', commissioned by the Presteigne Festival and the English Symphony Orchestra; 'Shakespeare Scenes' with Angela Whelan, trumpet; 'Hortus Musicae 2' and 'Chacony' performed by Clare Hammond; song cycle 'Time and the Seasons' with baritone Damian Thantray and pianist Huw Watkins; 'Fantazia', Carducci Quartet; 'Arias', Emily Pailthorpe, oboe and Clare Hammond, piano; 'Cello Sonata' Alice Neary. In November 2016 the Villiers Quartet performed 'Fantazia' at Syracuse University and Dartmouth College as part of a US tour and at Oxford University as part of their Residency. 

In January 2015 Robert Saxton was a featured composer at the Park Lane Group Young Artists series at the Southbank Centre with performances by the Maxwell Quartet, pianists Gamal Khamis and Imma Setiadi, and duo Susanna Fairbairn (soprano) and Matthew Schelhorn (piano). Organist William Whitehead premiered 'Wo Gott zum Haus nicht gibt sein Gunst' in Cambridge on 23 January 2015 as part of the Orgelbuechlein project; the Maxwell Quartet performed String Quartet No. 3 at the RNCM in Manchester on 6 March and in Oxford on 13 March; the Cory Band at the RNCM in Manchester gave the second performance of 'Sonata for Brass Band after Orlando Gibbons' on 25 January and flute and harp duo Antara will give the world premiere of 'Herla' on 25 April followed by a UK tour. The Navarra Quartet premiered 'Praeludium on the name George Friedrich Handel' at the Wigmore Hall on 3 March. The BBC Singers performed 'I will awake the dawn' on 11 May 2015 at St Paul's, Knightsbridge and soprano Susanna Fairbairn and pianist Matthew Schelhorn performed 'Brise Marine' and 'The Beach in Winter' in Cambridge on 3 May. 'Time and the Seasons' featured at the Ludlow English Song Weekend on 29 May, performed by baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Andrew West. 

2014 saw a UK tour of 'Time and the Seasons' with baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Andrew West in March; a performance of 'Shakespeare Scenes' in the Bangor New Music Festival with solo trumpet Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan; the release on Signum of 'Psalm', featuring Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan performing 'Shakespeare Scenes' and Robert's earlier trumpet concerto 'Psalm, a Song of Ascents'; commissions for Merton College, Oxford's 750th anniversary and for the City of Cambridge Brass Band; and the second year of Robert's post as Composer in Association at the Purcell School. 

Robert Saxton celebrated his 60th birthday in 2013 with a series of prestigious commissions. Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan premiered his new trumpet concerto 'Shakespeare Scenes' in Stratford upon Avon in May; Clare Hammond premiered 'Hortus Musicae' at the City of London Festival in June, and Roderick Williams and Andrew West performed his song cycle 'Time and the Seasons' at the Oxford Lieder Festival on 16 October in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford. The University of Oxford presented a series of events including a concert with Ensemble Isis conducted by John Traill featuring Simon Debruslais, trumpet, performing Saxton's two trumpet concerti - 'Psalm - A Song of Ascents' and 'Shakespeare Scenes' alongside chamber works performed by current and former students. Pianist Clare Hammond gave the third performance of 'Hortus Musicae' in a recital in the Holywell Music Room which also featured Saxton's 'Chacony for Left Hand'. 

For further information please visit the UYMP website

Robert Saxton

Short Biography

Robert Saxton was born in London in 1953. After early guidance from Benjamin Britten and study with Elisabeth Lutyens, he studied with Robin Holloway (Cambridge), with Robert Sherlaw Johnson (Oxford, as a postgraduate) and also with Luciano Berio. He won the Gaudeamus International Composers Prize in Holland at the age of twenty one.

Commissions include works for: works for the BBC (TV, Proms and Radio), LSO, LPO, ECO, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Northern Sinfonia and David Blake (conductor), Antara, Arditti and Chilingirian String Quartets, St Paul Chamber Orchestra (USA), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival/Opera North, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, City of London, Three Choirs and Lichfield festivals, Stephen Darlington and the choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, the choir of Merton College Oxford, Susan Milan, Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett, Simon Desbruslais, Clare Hammond. Edward Wickham and The Clerks' Group, Teresa Cahill, Leon Fleisher, Tamsin Little, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, John Wallace and the Raphael Wallfisch and John York duo.

Since 1999 he has been at Oxford University, where he is Professor of Composition in the Faculty of Music and Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcester College. Since 2013, he has also been Composer-in-Association at the Purcell School for Young Musicians.

His music from 1972 until 1998 was published by Chester/Music Sales and, since then, by the University of York Music Press and Ricordi (Berlin). Recordings have appeared on the Sony Classical, Hyperion, Metier, EMI , NMC, Divine Art and Signum labels.

Robert Saxton is married to the soprano, Teresa Cahill.

July 2017

[Please do not alter the text of this biography. If you require one of a different length, write to lizwebbmanagement@gmail.com to request one.]

Extended Biography

Robert Saxton was born in London in 1953. He began composing aged 6 and, after early advice from Benjamin Britten, he studied with Elisabeth Lutyens (1970-74), at Cambridge (1972-75) where he received composition tuition from Robin Holloway and as a postgraduate at Oxford with Robert Sherlaw Johnson (1975-76), where he had composition lessons with Luciano Berio. In 1975, he was awarded 1st Prize at the Gaudeamus International Composition Competition in Holland. He was the recipient of the Fulbright Arts Award 1985-86 to the USA, where he was a visiting fellow at Princeton and assistant to Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood Summer Music School, during which time he also taught alongside Leonard Bernstein. He was assistant to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at Dartington Summer School (1983-84) and on Hoy in the 1990s.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Saxton also undertook outreach education work both with Glyndebourne Opera and Opera North in the UK, and in Norway and Japan with the London Sinfonietta. Following a post as a lecturer at Bristol University, Saxton was Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1991-98), Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at the Royal Academy of Music (1998-99) and, since 1999, has been at Oxford University, where he is Professor of Composition and Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcester College. Having been a member of the Arts Council Music Panel, he was from 1997-2007 a Board member of London's Southbank Centre. From 1992-98 Saxton was Artistic Director of Opera Lab and from 2011-12 was Composition Mentor for Sounds New, a joint Anglo-French/EU project. Robert is Composer-in-Association at the Purcell School. In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge.

Selected commissions include works for the BBC (TV, Radio 3 and the Proms), ECO, LPO, LSO, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Northern Sinfonia, St Paul Chamber Orchestra USA, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Chilingirian String Quartet, The Clerks, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, City of London, Huddersfield and Lichfield festivals, and for Richard Rodney Bennett and Susan Bradsahw, Teresa Cahill, Simon Desbruslais, Leon Fleisher, Clare Hammond, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, John Wallace and Raphael Wallfisch. His music is published by Chester/Music Sales, Ricordi and UYMP and recorded on the EMI, Sony Classical, Hyperion, NMC and Signum labels.

Robert Saxton's String Quartet No. 3 was commissioned by the Southbank Centre, London and premiered by the Arditti Quartet. His radio opera, The Wandering Jew, was recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Performance on 3 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers and released on NMC in 2011. A major study of his 1991 opera Caritas by Wyndham Thomas was published by Ashgate Press in 2012. Recent commissions include Time and the Seasons, a song cycle for Roderick Williams and Andrew West at the Oxford Lieder Festival 2013; Shakespeare Scenes, a Trumpet Concerto for Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan, released on Signum in 2014; Hortus Musicae, a piano cycle for Clare Hammond at the City of London Festival; and new works for the City of Cambridge Brass Band, Merton College, Oxford, and the Presteigne Festival. He was a Frontline Composer for the Park Lane Group Young Artists New Year Series 2015 and was composer-in-residence at the Presteigne Festival in 2016.

He is married to the soprano, Teresa Cahill.

Robert Saxton is published by Chester Music / Music Sales, UYMP and Ricordi.

July 2016. [Please do not alter the text of this biography. If you require one of a different length, write to lizwebbmanagement@gmail.com to request one.]

 

 

 

Reviews

'an atmospheric work permeated by numerous timbral effects, though beneath the surface the structural elements are cleverly bound with an understated contrapuntal rigour.' Joanne Talbot, The Strad, March 2015 on 'String Quartet No. 3' performed by the Maxwell Quartet

'This music, in this performance, had a mystery, delicacy and depth which made you want to hear it again immediately.' Fiona Maddocks, Guardian, 11 January 2015 on 'String Quartet No. 3'

'vibrant, attractive... splendid' Guy Rickards, Gramophone, February 2015 on 'Shakespeare Scenes', recording on Signum available here.

'this most desirable release' Hubert Culot, Music-Web International, February 2015 on 'Shakespeare Scenes', full review here.

'Saxton's glistening, subtle Hortus Musicae' Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, January 2015

'The Maxwell Quartet... played Saxton's String Quartet No. 3 (2011), capturing the contrasting character of each of the five movements with title ssuch as Winter Light and Dance. Ideas revela and hide themselves in constant, delicate oscillation. In one (Sea Ground), he uses a passacaglia, mirroring the repeated yet changing action of the sea. This music, in this performance, had a mystery, delicacy and depth which made you want to hear it again immediately. What an exhilarating start to 2015.' Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, January 2015

'Robert Saxton's Third String Quartet (premiered by the Ardittis in 2011), a superbly crafted work that navigates, like much of Saxton's music, a wobbly bridge between tightly maintained and clearly articulated (mostly traditional) formal processes and the sense it conveys that everything might suddenly spiral off into unchained flights of ecstasy.' Guy Dammann, The Guardian, January 2015

"Drawing on a wide range of influences from his Jewish roots to the relationship between mathematical and music principles... his considerable technique and imagination make for writing of compelling melody (though not always in the conventional sense) and of richly organic background texture." The Observer

''This project blew me away...Saxton's tonal (or modal) musical language ranges from the spectacular to rapt spirituality. And the piece is compellingly delivered by a strong cast led by Roderick Williams as the Jew. Saxton calls it a 'radio opera'. That's too pessimistic. It deserves staging. Terry Gilliam would do it superbly.' Richard Morrison, The Times

'What Thomas's compelling study demonstrates time and time again is that Caritas's value lies in its impeccable attention to detail and craftsmanship and above all in the way that, by virtue of a deeply felt and considered response to the text, Saxton fashions a new a dramatic musical language that appeals to both the emotions and the intellect'. Edward Venn in CHOMBEC news, reviewing Wyndham Thomas's monograph on Saxton's 1991 opera 'Caritas' (Ashgate 2012)

Robert Saxton is published by UYMP, Music Sales Classical and Ricordi.