Monday 14 December 2015

OPUS2016 shortlisted composer - James Hoyle

(c) John Hoyle

Full Name: James Albany Hoyle
Age: 22

Where are you from? Where do you live now? Do you think this is relevant to understanding your music?

I’m originally from Leicestershire, but for the past few years have lived in London. I go to a lot of new music concerts in London but equally I always make a conscious effort to listen outside of what is immediately popular here and now. I’m sure my surroundings do play a role in my music but it’s one aspect of many.

How will you approach writing your OPUS2016 composition for Britten Sinfonia?

I’ve started by composing a number of fragments of material which each treat the ensemble in a slightly unusual way. Later I’ll assemble these together like a jigsaw puzzle to make the piece.

Who have you worked with previously? What ensembles/orchestras/organisations?

I’ve been lucky to work with some great new music ensembles recently, including EXAUDI and the Plus-Minus Ensemble.

What’s your earliest musical memory?

When I was a small child my mother tried to teach me to play the recorder. I didn’t get it and gave up.

When did you first start to write music?

I started taking an interest in music when I was 11 and started learning the violin. At this point I began writing music almost instantly.

Describe your growth as a composer to this point. What were the pivotal points?

I started composition lessons age 14 at the Royal Academy of Music, Junior Department. I had actually auditioned as a violinist but taken some compositions along to the audition. Apparently my violin playing wasn’t quite up to scratch so I was offered to study as a composer instead - prior to this point I had no idea that composition was a discipline one could study formally. Since then I have been in permanent full-time education, studying with many different teachers at a number of institutions: the Purcell School of Music, King’s College London, and presently the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

How do you start a new work/what is your composing method?

I usually compose with pencil and paper, with a piano nearby. Notes are not always the first thing to appear however, I often start by writing words, or drawing pictures or diagrams.

What living person do you most admire, and why?

I don’t think I’d single out any particular person, but all the people I admire most simply follow their own convictions, albeit never blindly.

The last concert you saw?

Georg Friedrich Haas’ new opera, ‘Morgen und Abend’.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

Puccini operas. 

How do you feel about the opportunities that are available to composers?

There are many wonderful opportunities available for composers embarking on a professional career. When I was growing up in Leicestershire, however, opportunities were few and far between. I think schools and regional arts organisations could do far more to encourage creative work of all kinds as an integral part of education.

What would be your advice to other young composers today?

Keep your ears open: listen to a lot of music (not just contemporary music but all types of music), and go to as many concerts featuring new music as possible.

What does the future hold for you? What are your next steps going to be as a composer?

I’m hoping to do a PhD at some point, and at present I am setting up a new contemporary music ensemble. In the meantime, I’ll continue to write lots of music!

You can join James and the other OPUS2016 shortlisted composers on 22 & 23 January 2016 for two days of workshops at the Barbican in London, with discussions and performances of the pieces these composers have been working on. Find out more and how to reserve your place here.

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