GILES SWAYNE (b 1946 )
Giles Swayne was born in 1946 and grew up in Liverpool and Yorkshire. He composed from an early age, encouraged by his cousin Elizabeth Maconchy. On leaving Cambridge in 1968 he won a composition scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he studied with Harrison Birtwistle, Alan Bush and Nicholas Maw. In 1976–77 he visited Paris to study with Olivier Messiaen. In 1980 his 80-minute piece CRY for 28 amplified voices, was premièred by the BBC Singers under John Poole and widely hailed as a landmark. It has been performed twice at the BBC Proms (in 1983 and 1994), and many times worldwide. In September 1999, after the Proms première of its successor HAVOC by the BBC Singers and Endymion, conducted by Stephen Cleobury, The Independent on Sunday commented “Swayne is a master”. The silent land for cello and 40-part chorus, premièred at the 1998 Spitalfields Festival by Raphael Wallfisch with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and English Voices under Tim Brown, was described by The Times as “a masterpiece”.
Recent works include Symphony no. 1 – a small world, commissioned by the BBC and premièred by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Jac van Steen in 2007. String quartet no. 4 (the turning year) was premièred in 2009. A new version of the Stabat mater with solo cello has been commissioned by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Choir, and will have its première in Leipzig under Howard Arman in February 2011.