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Bryars, Gavin (b1943)

Gavin Bryars

born: 16 January 1943
country: United Kingdom

'The music of Gavin Bryars falls under no category. It is mongrel, full of sensuality and wit and is deeply moving. He is one of the few composers who can put slapstick and primal emotion alongside each other. He allows you to witness new wonders in the sounds around you by approaching them from a completely new angle. With a third ear maybe …' (Michael Ondaatje)

'Listen to him, he's intelligent …' (Lulu)

'One of the ten most intelligent people on the planet …' (Juan Muñoz)

Gavin Bryars, born 1943, studied philosophy but became a jazz bassist and pioneer of free improvisation with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. Early iconic pieces The sinking of the Titanic and Jesus' blood never failed me yet achieved great popular success. Works include five operas, a large body of chamber music, several concertos and much vocal music including six books of madrigals. Performers include The Hilliard Ensemble, The Song Company, Trio Mediaeval, Red Byrd, Latvian Radio Choir, Estonian National Male Choir, Iarla O'Lionaird, Singer Pur and The Crossing, whose recording of The fifth century was awarded a Grammy. A new album with The Crossing released April 2021. He has collaborated widely with visual artists (Juan Muñoz, Bruce McLean), choreographers (William Forsythe, Merce Cunningham, Edouard Lock, David Dawson, Carolyn Carlson), theatre directors (Robert Wilson, Atom Egoyan), as well as writing music for the films of his wife Anna Tchernakova. He has also worked with non-classical performers such as Charlie Haden, Bill Frisell, Tom Waits, Natalie Merchant, Gavin Friday, Father John Misty, Bertrand Belin, and Mocke.

Since 1986 he has performed internationally and recorded with the Gavin Bryars Ensemble, his preferred performers, who include Anna Maria Friman and John Potter. A French book on his work, Gavin Bryars en paroles, en musique, appeared in 2020 and a second book is due for publication in England in April 2021. He lives in a Leicestershire village and on Vancouver Island. He is a Transcendent Satrap and a Regent of the Collège de 'Pataphysique and has made many recordings—for ECM, Point, Philips, Naxos, Decca, Navona and his own label GB Records.


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