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Musical World

David Sawer

  • Composer


David Sawer: Drama, or a fascination with theatrical possibilities, is present in many of David Sawer's works. His radio composition Swansong, a commentary in words and music on a short story by Hector Berlioz, won a Sony Award in 1990. In Byrnan Wood, the image from Macbeth of Malcolm’s disguised army advancing on Dunsinane provided an initial abstract idea – sound transforming itself as it moves through the orchestra. Cat’s-Eye was choreographed by Richard Alston for Ballet Rambert and Hollywood Extra, written for the Matrix Ensemble to accompany an expressionist silent film, was taken on a Contemporary Music Network Tour by the Asko Ensemble.

In the theatre, he has worked with playwrights Edward Bond, Nick Dear and Paul Godfrey and has written two operas: the one-act The Panic for the Royal Opera’s Garden Venture, and From Morning to Midnight, a full-length work commissioned by English National Opera, premièred at the London Coliseum in 2001, and for which he received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

Other recent works include a Piano Concerto for Rolf Hind and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which won the British Academy British Composer Award 2003 in the orchestra category, Stramm Gedichte for the New London Chamber Choir and James Wood, and Rebus, commissioned by musikFabrik.

A CD of four orchestral works recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group conducted by Martyn Brabbins and Susanna Mälkki was released in 2007 on the NMC label.

Sawer's operetta Skin Deep, written to a libretto by comedian Armando Iannucci, was premièred in 2009 by Opera North, with performances in Leeds, London, Salford, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bregenz and Copenhagen. In the same year, Rumpelstiltskin, a ballet for dancers and ensemble, was premièred by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.