Ian Wilson

Prolific Belfast born composer with a truly international reputation

Ian Wilson was born in Belfast in 1964 and obtained the first DPhil in composition to be awarded by the University of Ulster which, in 1993, commissioned his orchestral work Rise in celebration of the tenth anniversary of its foundation.

He has written over 70 pieces including the chamber opera Hamelin, concertos for organ, cello, alto saxophone, violin, marimba and piano, orchestral pieces, seven string quartets and four piano trios.

Wilson’s music has been performed and broadcast on six continents by artists such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Ulster and Norwegian Radio Orchestras, the London Mozart Players and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Artis and Vanbrugh Quartets, the Lontano and Avanti! ensembles, Catherine Leonard and Hugh Tinney.

Works have been performed at many festivals including the BBC Proms, the Venice Biennale, ISCM World Music Days, the Cheltenham and Bath Festivals and the Ultima Festival in Oslo, where Running, Thinking, Finding for orchestra received the composition prize in 1991.

In 1992, Wilson was awarded the Macaulay Fellowship administered by the Arts Council of Ireland, and in 1998 he was elected to Aosdana, Ireland's state-sponsored body of creative artists. From 2000 to 2003 he was an Arts and Humanities Research Board research fellow in creative and performing arts at the University of Ulster. His music is published by Universal Edition (London) Ltd and recorded on the Riverrun and other labels.

Wilson will be the featured composer at the 2005 Presteigne Festival in Wales (August 25-30). The festival has programmed six pieces, including the premiere of the string orchestra version of In fretta, in vento as well as The Seven Last Words for piano trio and Winter’s Edge for string quartet.

Recently, he was invited to participate in Heidelberg’s Impresariat Simmenauer in April 2005, where he attended a performance of his 6th quartet, In fretta, in vento, performed by the Callino Quartet. The Arts Council of Ireland has made an award to allow the Callino Quartet to record Ian’s 4th, 5th and 6th string quartets on the Riverrun label, for release in late 2006, and a further substantial contribution to enable the realisation of metalwoodskin, a multi-media dance collaboration between the composer, visual artist Ian Joyce and choreographer Jenny Roche. The work will be first presented at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin in May 2005.

RTÉ has commissioned a major orchestral work, Winter finding, which will receive its premiere during the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra’s BeethovenFest on May 13, 2005.

Future commissions include a multi-movement work for soprano and percussion ensemble, commissioned under Sligo County Council’s Per Cent for Art scheme (summer 2005); a new violin concerto (Ian’s third) for violin and string orchestra, commissioned by the Belgrade Strings with funds from the Arts Council of Ireland for premiere in Belgrade (autumn 2005); a work for chamber orchestra for Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, USA (autumn 2006); solo pieces for Gerard McChrystal (alto saxophone) and Helen Bledsoe (bass flute), and a new chamber opera, Minsk, to a libretto by Ian’s long-time collaborator, Lavinia Greenlaw.

The latest CD of Ian’s music, From the Book of Longing received excellent reviews, with four-star write-ups from both the Independent and the Irish Times plus a very enthusiastic review from Gramophone magazine.