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Marsh, Joanna (b1970)

Joanna Marsh

born: 1970
country: United Kingdom

Described in The Guardian (2019) as one of today’s leading composers for voice, Joanna Marsh is a British composer who since 2007 has divided her time between Dubai and the UK. Her life in the Middle East has lead to many unique musical opportunities including writing an orchestral work to celebrate the building of the Burj Khalifa, a commission for the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the BBC Proms in Dubai and a fanfare for the Queen’s visit to Abu Dhabi. Her first opera was also inspired by Dubai life: My beautiful camel, collaborating on this with librettist David Pountney.

The inspiration for Joanna’s compositions often comes from seeing contemporary subjects in a historical perspective. For example, The tower (2008) for the BBC singers, organ and brass was a reflection on the Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s famously tall tower, and its curious parallels with the mythical Tower of Babel. The concert was broadcast on BBC radio 3 UK.

Joanna studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, London. She was Composer in Residence at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge from 2015 through to 2020, and during that time has written a number of choral works for the college choir and the college organ. She is a Co-Founder of ChoirFest Middle East in Dubai, an annual celebration of the region’s choral music scene which is reached its eighth edition in March 2020. She is also Founder and Artistic Director of the Dubai Opera Festival Chorus a large body of singers that was set up for the BBC Proms in Dubai and continues to undertake concert performances of various types across the UAE. Joanna was an undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music in London and following this organ scholar at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge. She studied composition with Richard Blackford and Judith Bingham.


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