The English composer, Andrew Toovey, studied composition with Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy and briefly with Morton Feldman. He has won a series of prestigious composition prizes including the Tippett Prize, Terra Nova Prize, the Bernard Shore Viola Composition Award and an RVW Trust Award.
Andrew Toovey was associate composer for the Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) from 1993 to 1995 and has been the Artistic Director of the new music ensemble IXION since 1987. He was composer-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Canada for four successive years with his two operas and music theatre works. Two CD’s of his music were released on the Largo label in 1998. He has worked extensively on education projects for Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Huddersfield Festival, the South Bank Centre and the London Festival Orchestra, and has been composer-in-residence at Opera Factory and the South Bank Summer School. He is now a full time composer, but used to teach part time at Bishop Ramsey School, Ruislip, Middlesex. He currently teaches at Alperton Community School in Wembley. His educational activity includes also working with Thalia Myers Spectrum project for piano students.
Confrontational idiom contrasting raw vigour, melancholic stasis and folklike melody, Andrew Toovey's work embraces a huge diversity of influences, from musical extremes such as Feldman and Michael Finnissy, or the poetry of Artaud, Cummings and Rilke, to a passion for 20th century art - especially that by Bacon, Beuys, Davies, Hayter, Klee, Miro, Newman, Rauschenberg, Riley, Rothko and many more. These influences are heard in the stark juxtaposition of blocks of instrumental colour. Technical demands of works welcomed by a generation of young virtuoso performers including pianist James Clapperton and members of his own ensemble IXION. He consciously places himself outside what he regards as useless or outmoded conventions, whilst reserving the right to draw on, allude to, shoplift from absolutely anywhere. Not only are Toovey’s musical sympathies unusually diverse and deliberately unaligned to the readymade categories of our recent past (minimalism, neo-Romanticism, new complexity), but the fundamental stylistic “gesture” can be as readily compared to the visual arts as to any music - to the work of Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg or Stanley Hayter.
Andrew Toovey has written operas and orchestral music, as well as works for chamber ensembles and solo instruments. His works have been performed throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. His works have also been featured at the Banff, Bergen, Brighton, Gaudeamus, Huddersfield and ISCM festivals and the Darmstadt and Dartington International Summer School. His music has been frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and various European radio stations. Interpreters include Ensemble Modern, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Music Theatre Wales.
Recent commissions have included Music for the Painter Jack Smith (Brighton Festival), Dutch Dykes (De Ereprijs), Self portrait as a Tiger! (Ensemble Reconsil Wein), Going Home (Szymanowski String Quartet). He was commissioned by the BBC to write a viola concerto, premiered by Lawrence Power and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra earlier this year in Glasgow. He is currently writing an orchestral suite based on music from his first opera UBU and a large orchestral work. Other commissions have included Acrobats, for COMA, mini opera I'll be there for you, commissioned by English Touring Opera, solo violin work Transparencies written for an exhibition of artist Julian Grater, and Noh for solo cello written for sculptor John Davies.