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© NEIL MATTHEWS

Interview with the Composer
Our interview with David Bruce focused on his composition of "Cut the Rug," which the Silk Road Ensemble workshopped in January 2012. New music workshops frequently take place as part of the Silk Road Project's affiliation with Harvard University.


© NEIL MATTHEWS

"[Bruce's] music, rich with imagined folk tunes, undulant accompaniment patterns and vibrant choral writing, is delicate, tartly tonal and lucidly orchestrated."

- ANTHONY TOMMASINI,
NEW YORK TIMES


David Bruce

Composer (United Kingdom/United States) Born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1970, David Bruce grew up in England and now enjoys a growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S., his third Carnegie Hall commission "Steampunk" (2011), follows "Piosenki" (2006), and "Gumboots" (2008), which have both gone on to be widely performed by leading ensembles around the world. His song-cycle "The North Wind was a Woman" was commissioned by the Lincoln Center for Dawn Upshaw for the gala opening of the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center's 2009 season. 

In the U.K., Bruce's new chamber opera for the Opera Group and ROH2, based on Philip Pullman's story The Firework Maker's Daughter will tour the U.K. and New York's New Victory Theatre in Spring 2013; other work includes a new commission from the London Philharmonic Orchestra for their BrightSparks series; and "Fire," a new work for massed choir, horns and fire artist, one of 20 '20x12' commissions celebrating the Cultural Olympiad. 

In great demand as a composer, Bruce continues to work with some of the world's leading musicians. In August 2011 violinist Daniel Hope together with the David Orlowsky Trio and cellist Vincent Segal premiered his 45-minute chamber work "The Given Note," co-commissioned by the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Germany and the Savannah Festival USA. For 2012, Bruce is working on a new commission for the Silk Road Ensemble. 

Bruce's music draws inspiration from folk traditions from around the world. He particularly enjoys collaborating with musicians who have strong connections with both classical and folk/world traditions, such as accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, mandolinist Avi Avital and clarinettist David Orlowsky. Bruce also enjoys close working relationships with some of the finest musicians of the younger generation including Ensemble ACJW; harpist Bridget Kibbey; the grammy-nominated Metropolis Ensemble in New York; Chroma in the UK; and Art of Elan in San Diego (whose recording of their 2011 commission "The Eye of Night" was recently released). 

Bruce's work in opera has also attracted considerable attention. A series of short operas for Tete a Tete in London culminated in the Genesis Foundation commission Push! (2006) which was Critic's Choice for 2006 in both The Telegraph and Classical Music Magazine and received universal critical acclaim. In 2008, Dawn Upshaw instigated the commission for his one-act opera A Bird in Your Ear (2008) for Bard College, NY. After its successful premiere the opera has had performances by New York City Opera as part of the 2009 VOX festival; as a finalist in the National Opera Association's Chamber Opera competition 2008; and with students at NYU. The New York Times said the opera, "rich with imagined folk tunes, undulant accompaniment patterns and vibrant choral writing, is delicate, tartly tonal and lucidly orchestrated." 

Bruce's music has attracted numerous awards and prizes, including the Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize (2008) and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Competition (1994). He studied at Nottingham University, the Royal College of Music, London, (with Tim Salter and George Benjamin); and completed a PhD in Composition at King's College, London (1995-9), under the supervision of Sir Harrison Birtwistle. 

Complementing his work as a composer, Bruce runs the music and technology company Red Balloon Technology Ltd., whose sites include the popular sheet music site 8notes.com and the composers' site CompositionToday.