Born in 1963, the British composer John Pickard studied with William Mathias and with Louis Andriessen. He is currently professor of composition at the University of Bristol.
Pickard is best known for a series of powerful orchestral and instrumental works. He has written five symphonies and other orchestral works of symphonic dimensions. Other major works include the oratorio Agamemnon’s Tomb (2005–07). His music has been widely praised for its large-scale architectural sense and bold handling of an extended tonal idiom, his five string quartets (1991, 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2012) receiving particular acclaim. Reviewing the première of the Fourth Quartet, The Strad called it ‘one of the best pieces of British chamber music to be heard for years’. Two previous recordings on BIS of his orchestral music have also received critical praise. The first [BIS-1578], consisting of The Flight of Icarus (1990), Channel Firing (1992–93) and the trombone concerto The Spindle of Necessity (1997–98), was described as ‘a treasure’ with ‘superb works in wonderful readings’ in the American Record Guide, while the BBC Music Magazine called the composer ‘a born master of the orchestra’ and named Channel Firing ‘one of the finest British works of the 1990s’. Reviews of the second disc [BIS-1873], comprising Sea-Change (1989), Piano Concerto (1999–2000) and Tenebrae (2008), were equally enthusiastic, with BBC Music Magazine calling it ‘one of the most important contemporary orchestral CDs of 2013’. A third disc [BIS-2061], containing Pickard’s huge Gaia Symphony for brass band and the shorter work Eden, was described by Gramophone magazine as ‘simply stunning’ and by International Record Review as ‘warmly recommended to anyone who still doubts the medium’s symphonic potency’.
For further information, please visit John Pickard's website.