David Gorton (b.1978) is a composer based in London. A winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, his large-scale works include “The Fall of Babel” for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, “Oblique Prayers” for Claire Booth and the London Sinfonietta, and “Schmetterlingsspiel” for Christopher Redgate and Ensemble Exposé.
Described by Gramophone magazine as working in the “more radical domain” of British music, David Gorton’s works are often characterised by microtonal tuning systems and performer virtuosity. Yet alongside apparently complex works his output includes compositions for amateur choirs and pieces in the ABRSM Spectrum series.
Since 2010 three portrait albums have been released of his music on the Métier and Toccata Classics labels. “Trajectories” (Métier, 2010) emerged from a series of residencies at the Tate Gallery in St Ives, and includes “String Quartet: Trajectories”, commissioned for the Kreutzer Quartet to be performed in the sea-facing gallery space.
“Orfordness” (Métier, 2014) comprises compositions that explore ideas of landscape and memory. The disc takes its name from a solo piano piece written for Zubin Kanga that draws on programmatic references to the abandoned military base on Orford Ness, including the testing of secret hardware and a UFO encounter. This preoccupation with East Anglian landscapes is continued in more recent works, including a collaboration with photographer Claire Shovelton resulting in “Burgh Castle”, written for CHROMA and pianist Roderick Chadwick at the Huddersfield Festival.
“Variations on John Dowland” (Toccata Classics, 2017) represents another compositional preoccupation, that of pre-baroque English music. The disc contains two substantial pieces based on original material by John Dowland: “Lachrymae Variations” for the string orchestra Longbow and violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, and “Forlorn Hope” for guitarist Stefan Östersjö. These are set alongside arrangements of Byrd and Morley’s own variations on Dowland.
David Gorton was a student at Durham University, King’s College London, and the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition with Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Bainbridge. From 2004-06 he held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship. He has been an associate researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, and a composer-in-residence at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Music since 2006, where he is an Associate Professor of the University of London.