Edward Gregson was born in Sunderland, Co Durham, England, in 1945. He is a composer of international standing whose music has been performed, broadcast, and recorded worldwide. He has written orchestral, chamber, instrumental and choral music, as well as major contributions to the wind and brass repertoire. He has also written music for the theatre, film, and television,. He has completed commissions for orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and Hallé orchestras, and his major works in this genre include Music for Chamber Orchestra (1968), Metamorphoses (1979), Concerto for Orchestra (1983), Blazon (1991), and Dream Song (2010). However, it is his concertos for various instruments that form the backbone of his orchestral output: horn (1971), tuba (1976), trumpet (1983), trombone (1979), clarinet (1994), piano (1997), violin (2000), saxophone (2006), cello (2007), and flute (2013).
His music has been extensively broadcast and recorded, and perhaps of special note is the ongoing series of his orchestral music and concertos on the Chandos label performed by the BBC Philharmonic and the BBC Concert orchestras – the latest volume, the fourth in the series, was released in 2014; in addition, and of similar importance, is the survey of his complete brass band music on the Doyen label. The latest volume (no. 5), including his recent Symphony in two movements and Of Distant Memories, was released in 2013.
His recent compositions include Triptych for solo violin (commissioned for the 2011 RNCM Manchester International Violin competition), Tributes for clarinet and piano (recorded by Michael Collins), Aztec Dances (in versions for flute or recorder and piano, and flute and ensemble), Three John Donne Settings (commissioned for the National Youth Choir of Wales), and Remember, a World War 1 commemoration work, for baritone solo, children’s choir and orchestra, commissioned by PRS for Music to celebrate their centenary, and recently premiered at London’s Cadogan Hall. His first string quartet, commissioned by the Manchester Midday Concerts Society for their centenary year in 2015, was given its première by the Navarra Quartet in January 2015 at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and will receive further performances at various music festivals during the course of the year.
His contribution to the brass band repertoire has been of huge significance, from early works such as Essay (1970), The Plantagenets (1973) and Connotations (1977), his ‘middle period’ works, including Dances and Arias (1984), Of Men and Mountains (1991), and The Trumpets of the Angels (2000) – to his more recent Rococo Variations (2008), Symphony in two movements (2012) and Of Distant Memories (2013). He has also written music for brass ensemble including two quintets, two brass quartets, Three Dance Episodes for brass octet, and fanfares and ceremonial works for various occasions.
Edward Gregson has had an impressive career as an academic, from his time in the music department of Goldsmiths College, University of London (1976-96), to his tenure as Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester (1996-2008). He retired from academe in 2008 in order to concentrate on composing. He holds honorary degrees and fellowships from a dozen English universities and conservatoires, and is a Companion and Emeritus Professor of the RNCM. He has been nominated for both Ivor Novello and British Composer awards, and currently serves on a number of Boards relating to music education and the music profession.