Andrew Toovey
Andrew Toovey - drawing by Nichal Aracchande

 

1962        1970        1980        1990        2000        2010


1962 Born 21 February, London, England. Father, James (1910-1977) was a painter and decorator from Brighouse, Yorkshire. Mother Margaret (1920-2006) is from Glasgow, Scotland. Sister Janet (1948) and brother Peter (1959).
1967-70 Stonebridge Primary School, London where at the age of nine hearing a teacher play records of Mozart's Magic Flute Overture and Joan Baez decided I wanted to be a composer.
1970-74 Moved to Bridge Road Primary School and joined St Michaels Church choir which sang the likes of Walton and Howells. Began private piano lesson. For the next ten years many small compositions were written, later to be played by members of the various orchestras I attended.
1974-77 Sladebrook Secondary School, began to play at first the clarinet and cello, but fairly quickly moved on to the violin. Joined the Borough of Brent String Orchestra.
1977-81 Moved to Brondesbury and Kilburn Secondary School to take '0' Levels and later 'A' Levels in Music (two), English and World Religions. Dropped the violin for viola and joined the Brent Youth Symphony Orchestra which played much new music.
1981-84 The summer of this year was spent traveling around Europe, including seeing great Italian art, spending time in Bartok's house in Budapest and seeing the triple bill of Bluebeards Castle, Miraculous Mandarin and The Wooden Prince at the State Opera. It was Bartoks centenary year. This all made a deep impression on me. As did seeing Birtwistle's opera Punch and Judy.

BMus (Hons) Music degree at Surrey University, Guildford. As part of the degree also studied 20th Century Poetry with Morag Morris which greatly developed my love of poetry. Met many poets through her University poetry lectures, and wrote to a number including Larkin, Heaney, Gunn and Levi. During these three years much student composition was written, including first acknowledged work 'Winter Solstice' for voice and seven instrumentalists, settings of Japanese Haiku. Won the Joyce Dixey Award for composition with Auden setting 'Postscript' (withdrawn) in my second year of University. Wrote my first Rilke setting 'Ich bin Niemand' (withdrawn) for voice and large ensemble as a result of this prize. Became very involved in looking at and buying 20th Century art. Bought first Hayter prints (see cover of CD) at this time. Exhibited Hayter Print collection in University Library (via Elizabeth Estave-Col) Met various artists including Francis Bacon and Henry Moore.

1984-85 Received a scholarship from the RVW Trust to do a Master'of Arts degree at Sussex University. Studied composition with Jonathan Harvey (my first teacher) and aesthetics with David Osmond-Smith. Continued this study to Master of Philosophy. Started attending The Dartington Summer School on the composition courses (and later with IXION) for next five years. Became friends with James Clapperton. Saw Francis Bacon Tate Exhibition many times. At the same time saw Adam and Eve paintings by Barnett Newman also at the Tate - major influence on my composing. Was joint winner of the Huddersfield Festival Yorkshire Arts Composers Prize with Veiled Wave 3 for guitar (withdrawn). Had private lessons with Michael Finnissy and became close friends. Pieces still existing from this time.
1986-87 PGCE. Institute of Education London University.Studied composition with Morton Feldman at Dartington Summer School. A major change in my approach and attitude occured through working with him. He gave me the Tippett Award for Untitled String Quartet (1985). Cantec for viola and piano awarded the first prize in the Royal Over-Seas League Bernard Shore Viola Composition Award. Also wrote Ate for 16 players which won the Terra Nova Prize in 1988. Attended the Venice Biennale art exibition where Auerbach represented the UK. Also saw Mark Rothko Tate Exhibition many times.
1987 Set up new music ensemble IXION with Peter Reynolds, to play young composers work and the music of Feldman, Cage etc. First concerts at Dartington and the BMIC. Dartington also had Toovey performances by Alan Hacker, Pierre Yves-Artaud, the Mistry String Quartet and James Clapperton. Wrote piano trio Shining Forth (my first real commission). Began music teaching for one day a week at Bishop Ramsey mixed secondary school in Hillingdon.
1988 IXION plays a major new music part in Brighton Festival for next five years. From this year my music was recorded and regularly featured on BBC Radio 3, and various European stations. A good composing year, wrote among other works a music theatre work based on Artaud's The Spurt of Blood, and chamber works: White Fire, Shimmer Bright, Whisper(ingly) Crumbling (into) Silence, Lament, Strathspey, Reel, Fragments After Artaud and (nobody'll Know) which was awarded an RVW Trust Award. Visited Hayter Exhibition at Ashmolean Museum Oxford.
1989 Black Light for 16 players, Rilke setting An die Musik (voice with vibraphone), Out Jumps Jack Death! for piano. Published by Boosey and Hawkes for next 5 years (Ate, Black Light and some smaller works). Clapperton releases CD including 2 Toovey works.
1990 First visit to USA, concert in Albright-Knox Gallery. Featured in Oslo festival. IXION South Bank Debut in Purcell Room including first performance of Adam. IXION at the Bergen Festival 'Music Factory'. Traveling around Europe as part of John Cage's Europera 3 and 4 with John Cage himself. Two week holiday in Budapest with best friend Deirdre Henderson. Became friends with artist Julian Grater. IXION at Darmstadt, spent extended times in the Hessischen Landesmuseum with large collection of Joseph Beuys art works. Attended Covent Gardens 'Garden Venture' opera course held at Dartington, (met writers James Mavor and Karen Whiteson) and had IXION concert at the same time. Became friends with artist Bridget Riley. Visited 3 times Jasper Johns Haywood Gallery exhibition. Wrote another Rilke setting for voice and vibraphone Einsamkeit, released on Kitchenware CD by Nicola Walker Smith in 1991.
1991 Saw Morton Feldman's opera Neither in Amsterdam while on holiday with my brother Peter. James Clapperton tours Fragments After Artaud extensively around Holland. Still Far Off (withdrawn) tour of UK. Huddersfield IXION concert featured on BBC 2 TV 'Late Show'. Wrote Mozart for strings of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Fallen, Rilke settings for voice and violin. Otherwise spent year writing chamber opera Ubu based on Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi. Met first director of Ubu Keith Turnbull.
1992 Went to ICA Bruce Nauman exhibition with artist and composer Chris Newman. Concerts of music in France including IXION at AUCH festival. First visit to Dublin for holiday. Amsterdam IXION/SPNM concert. Detailed Tempo article by Michael Finnissy (issue 181 June 92). Six week visit to Banff Centre for the Arts Canada for rehearsals and performances of opera Ubu. (have been back 3 times since for other work) Black Light for 16 players performed by Ensemble Modern at ISCM Warsaw. Made 'composer' profile recordings for BBC World Service. IXION at Darmstadt. Visited 'Documents' at Kassel. Holiday in Rhodes with Deirdre. Adam performed at Gaudeamus New Music Week. Ubu tour with Music Theatre Wales.
1993 Appointed Associate Composer for the Young Concert Artists Trust (until 1995). Among other works wrote Your Mouth for viola and percussion for YCAT. Most of the year spent on second chamber opera The Juniper Tree commissioned by Broomhill Opera. Over two years Ubu has two new productions in Germany (Hamburg and Saarbrucken). Composer on the Opera Factory South Bank Summer School (to 1996). Through this became friends with director Robert Chevara. Bought present home in Harlesden, London
1994 Wrote Irish Settings for voice and viola and Out! for two pianos and orchestra for YCAT 10th Anniversary Concert in the QEH London. Met novalist James Purdy in New York. My third opera will be based on one of his novels. Became friends with Jenny Stein and sculptor John Davies. Worked with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Stephen and Philip Langridge on educational project at Glyndebourne based on Birtwistle's opera The Second Mrs Kong. Holiday in Mexico with photographer Philippe Benfell which filled me with compositional fuel! Added Yoshi and Zeberde my siamese cats to my home.
1995 Finish Come and Go for Musikfabrik of Dusseldorf for extended tour of Germany, including ISCM Festival in Essen. Eos, conducted by Charles Hazelwood tour Mozart in Germany. Wrote Acrobats for COMA (Contemporary Orchestral Music for Amateurs). Visited 'Lost Workers' Exhibition by Christian Boltanski at Halifax. Began relationship with the London Festival Orchestra working with primary schools on special projects. Trip to Japan for performances of piano work The Moon Falls Through the Autumn and saw many wonderful things including Kabuki Theatre performances and an array of 20th Century art. Friends with artist Peter Stanyer. Mostly working on orchestral piece Red Icon.
1996 Red Icon performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra (and later in the year by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra). Wrote Still a piano piece for Spectrum the Associated Board's first book of contemporary piano works accessible to all ages and abilities. Frequent visitor to the Leon Kossoff Tate Gallery retrospective. Holidays in Rhodes with Deirdre, Thessalonki with brother Peter to visit John Davies and Tina, and Prague. Brief visits to Vienna, Budapest and Essen for performances. While in Vienna visited Alban Berg House at invitation of Finnissy and the ISCM. Wonderful! My mother develops dementia. CD of Fall for Saxophone released by Thomas Mejer on Earup, Basel label. Two education projects with ENO 'Baylis' programme and COMA 'Grimm Tale' music theatre project at Huddersfield Festival. Began Oboe Concerto (strings and harp).
1997 First visit to the home and studio of Jack and Sue Smith – for whom in 2002 I was to write the chamber ensemble piece, Music for the painter Jack Smith. Also started to collect the work of artist Peter Stanyer – I bought a big painting from him to celebrate the BBC Commission of my first orchestral piece Red Icon. Extensive work commenced on an Oboe Concerto commissioned by Dame Evelyn Barbirolli for the Isle of White Oboe competition. Many wonderful lunches at her home to discuss this piece. Visits throughout the year to many art exhibitions including Frank Auerbach, Estelle Thompson, Julian Grater and on holiday in Spain to The Miro Foundation, Tapies Foundation (Ana Mendieta solo show) and first visit to Gaudi La Sagrada familia in Barcelona. Working with the London Festival Orchestra, conducted by Ross Pople did a project that included talking to over 700 GCSE Music students in the QEH – rather scary! Wrote piano piece Techno Stomp for Stephen Gutman and a collection of Rilke poetry setting while in Banff Canada for the summer.
1998 Back to Spain, this time Madrid and Seville with friend Deirdre Henderson this time to visit the wonderful collection of art at The Prado. Did two education projects with English Touring Opera and another with artist Estelle Thompson at the Warwick Arts Centre. On 14/05/1998 was interview for a part-time music post at Alperton Community School and got the job! Was composition tutor at the COMA summer school and heard a performance of Acrobats which was commissioned by COMA. I also went on to The Banff Centre, Canada for performances of musical theatre piece The Spurt of Blood with text by Artaud. Bruce Nauman exhibition at the Haywood Gallery in London and the Rauschenberg exhibition in Cologne while hearing a performance of my (nobody’ll Know) for cello and piano. Also performance of ensemble piece Come and Go in Stockholm ISCM festival.
1999 Met artist Alan Charlton at Annely Juda Gallery and bought a collection of 15 prints that have been helpful in guiding my thoughts on compositional structure. Also through Annely received a gift from Christo, famed for wrapping buildings and other things, of many signed prints which have been a great influence over the years. Many visits to the home of artist Bridget Riley (who I later wrote Splice (1991) for) and John Davies who had an exhibition of his drawings at Purdy Hicks Gallery. Made a visit to clarinettist Andrew Smith to see the Angel of the North by Gormley and attend some concerts at The Sage Gateshead. First trip to Marrakech in Morocco with ceramicist Lynda Stone where I was eventually to buy a second home. Holiday in Greece with Deirdre and trip to Amsterdam to hear Musik Fabrick perform Come and Go, and another trip to Stockholm, Sweden as the UK representative of the ECIM (European Composers Informal Meeting) devised by the BMIC. In October sang (as I regularly did over the years) in a Mozart Requiem conducted by Valery Hill (who was the first music teacher I worked with at Bishop Ramsey back in 1987) and also saw a marvellous Ken Kiff exhibition – For whom I later dedicated Red Bird (2002) to after a linocut of the same name.
2000 Saw the Millennium in in style watching the London fireworks from the OXO Tower next to the Thames – home of Pam Chavera – mother of director Robert Chavara. Robert was the director of English Touring Opera and just into The Millennium I wrote a short chamber opera I’ll be there for you to an original libretto by Mark Ravenhill. Saw Birtwistle Gawain again as part of the new ROH and had my violin pieces played by Charles Mutter at the opening of an exhibition of work by Julian Grater in Reading. This included the new piece Transparencies written in this year.
2001  
2002  
2003  
2004  
2005  
2006  
2007  
2008 A good start to the year with a weekend of Judith Weir’s music at the Barbican Centre with a featured piece of Michael Finnissy, Red Earth. Also this was the year of Birtwistle’s opera The Minotaur at ROH. My first trip to Seoul, Korea for performances by Michael Finnissy, the trip also included visits to Hong Kong and Tokyo. The ‘Hadrian’ exhibition at the British Museum was excellent. Sang Chris Newman songs with Michael Finnissy at the piano as part of the Spitalfields Festival. Too many concerts and exhibitions to mention.
2009 First time for seeing the wonderful opera by Korngold, Die tote stadt at ROH and also Janacek’s Jenufa at ENO. Concerts of music by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and enjoyed the art exhibitions of both Tim Hyman at Austin Desmond Fine Art and Estelle Thompson at Purdy Hicks Gallery. Bought a Prom Concert season ticket for the RAH that kept me busy throughout the summer. Started my on-going relationship with the Birmingham Conservatoire by giving a talk on my music to student’s at BCU in October.
2010 Trip to Shanghai, China and heard Chinese ‘Peking’ opera live for the first time. Throughout the year heard many concerts including recitals by Maurizio Pollini and Evgeny Kissin among others and great seminal pieces by Varese, Messiaen, Feldman, Glass, Nyman, Lachenmann to name a few and exhibitions, the best one was Leon Kossoff’s at Annely Juda’s gallery. Main composition was on Ubu’s Journey a 30 minute orchestral piece for IIan Volkov and the BBCSSO. Wrote Oldham for Coma Ensemble. Put a great deal of my work and other things that interested me on YouTube, and created my own channel.
2011 Early Turkish holiday with my brother Peter. Simeon Stafford (Thompsons Gallery) and Cy Twombly (Dulwich Picture Gallery) exhibitions were my favourites of the year. Concerts of Xenakis, Debussy’s opera Pelleas and Melisande were highlights as was another season of Proms Concerts, working at the Coma Summer school and hearing my new orchestral piece Ubu’s Journey in Glasgow with the BBCSSO conducted by llan Volkov. Started composition teaching at Benslow in Hitchen and visited my niece, Rebecca in Brussels with my brother.
2012 New Year’s Day with Dhol Group from ACS performing in the London New Year’s Parade. Barbican Centre performance of my teachers opera Wagner Dream and ROH performances of Judith Weir’s opera Miss Fortune Ed Bennetts opera Jackie’s Taxi (PR, SBC) as well as performances of Philip Glass, Nancarrow at the Purcell Room SBC and two Prom concerts of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder and the 'Cage Prom' were big highlights. The David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy was very exciting as well, I visited it a few times, once with photographer and friend Malcolm Crowthers who gave me a marvellous insight into the work.
2013 The year started with lunch with Suzanne and Ian at his home, very tasty as always. Days later off to Amsterdam to see Philip Glass opera – Einstein on the beach, which was a wonderful start to my cultural year. I saw many films, concerts, operas and exhibitions throughout the year. A streem of good concerts and opera performance. Highlights were recitals by Soile Isokoski, Iestyn Davies, The Capucon brothers, all at the Wigmore Hall. Operas included, Lully’s Phaeton, a rare Wagner Die Feen at the QEH, Berg’s Wozzeck, Glass’s The Perfect American, and two rarely heard Britten operas, Gloriana and Paul Bunyan. Then there were major excitements at the Proms Concerts, Stockhausen’s music! A new piano concerto from Fred Rzewski, which he played wonderfully himself and excellent Glyndebourne Britten Billy Budd, and many Wagner operas including The Ring with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin. A wonderful triumph! Had a great holiday to see the Venice art biennale in October. This holiday summed up a very good year. Just at the end of the year wrote Breathless for Huw Watkins.
2014 This year started with a string of Handel opera performances and made me think about the idea of composing a ‘Handel-like opera’ – hence Narrow Rooms by James Purdy to a libretto by Michael Finnissy. They included, Jephtha, Theodora, and also other opera, Rameau Les Indes Galantes, Strauss Die Frau Ohne Schatten and Ariadne auf Naxos, Birtwistle’s Yan tan tethera, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites and Glass The Trial. I also enjoyed concerts of music by Villa-Lobos, Nyman and John Tavener. Huw Watkins gave the first performance of my new piano piece Breathless (2013/14) at The Forge in Camden and Jonathan Powell revived my first piano piece Artaud (1986) in a stunning performance in Oxford. I wrote a new ensemble piece Wenke (2014) for the Vieneese group Ensemble Reconsil. The ensemble Broken Consort gave the first performance of a new piece called Eyjafjallajokull (2014) after the Icelandic volcanic mountain that erupted that year. I also did a piano version of this piece. COMA celebrated their 21st anniversary at St Johns Smith Square and performed a new fanfare I wrote called Walking Fanfare (2014). I also wrote a solo piano piece for Michael Finnissy called Where are we in this world (2014).
2015 January 1st – Day out to Hastings with my brother Peter who is now thinking about moving there by the sea. Best exhibitions were those of Egon Schiele (Courtauld gallery) Carole Hensher (Printmakers Gallery), Jason Hicklin (Eames Gallery), who also gave a fascinating talk on the nature of his work, Alexander McQueen (V&A), The Celts (British Museum), and Ai Weiwei (RAA). The highlights of music events was: Opera - Ava’s Wedding (Crescent Theatre Birmingham) by Michael Wolters, Wagner’s Die Meistersingers of Nuremberg (ENO) and The Flying Dutchman (ROH), Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the city of Mahagonny (ROH) and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (ENO). Concerts I enjoyed this year were piano recitals by Benjamin Grosvenor and Alexander Melnikov at the Wigmore Hall, Maurizio Pollini (RFH), Daniel Barenboim’s 4 recitals of Schubert sonatas on his own invented piano (RFH), the Pierre Boulez ‘total immersion’ weekend at the Barbican Centre, and the new orchestral pieces by Magnus Lindberg Accused: 3 interrogations for soprano (the wonderful Barbara Hannigan) and orchestra (RFH), and Richard Ayres No 48 (BH). Two Prom concerts including Michael Finnissy work and premier of Janne for orchestra was a highpoint of the season. Finished teaching and head of music position at Alperton Community School in July, and in October started a funded M3C Composition PhD at BCU Birmingham Conservatoire, while still teaching composition part-time. For the end of the year, holiday in Venice, Italy to see the art biennale. Two trips to Norfolk to see Michael Finnissy and Philip Adams with Peter (my brother) and Morgan Hayes. Trip to Benslow as composition teacher, and the year ended perfectly with lots of friend and family activities.
2016 Once again the first day of 2016 was another day out in Hastings where my brother, Peter, now lives since November. I had some great performances of my music this year – see the performances page for all the information on them. A trip to Beijing, China in May was fantastic, with composers/Thallein performers from The Birmingham Conservatoire. Starting up my ensemble IXION with two concerts at the CoMA Summer School in August was an excellent start to my plans for the ensemble's future. Throughout the year over fifty visits to concerts, operas, art exhibitions, films many of which are listed in my ‘listening/looking log’ on my PHD M3C BCU page. Highlights included the multi Michael Finnissy events celebrating his 70th Birthday, operas by Philip Glass, Gerald Barry, Leos Janacek and Wagner including Opera North’s marvellous complete Ring at the RFH. Art highlights included visits to see the work of John Davies, Nek Chand, Armando Alemdar, Geogia O’Keeffe and the We are all human SBC exhibition of ‘Offenders’ art. Saw many films, and especially enjoyed The Dutch Girl, Julieta, Moonlight, Koyaanisqatsi and a marathon Star Trek day. Among many new compositions I heard this year I especially enjoyed those by Robert Crehan, Patrick Giguere, Samuel Bordoli, Ryan Latimer, Tazul Tajuddin, and many student composer concerts at the Birmingham Conservatoire. I know this year we lost a lot of composers, musicians and important figures generally, we also had Brexit and Trump to worry us, but I’m lucky to have some good friends and family around me so this helps a lot. The year ended with a very special Christmas time with many of my family and friends and I was pleased with my compositions this year, so all in all it was a good year.

Andrew Toovey - stitched portrait (face)Andrew Toovey - stitched portrait (reverse)
Andrew Toovey - Stitched portrait (showing both sides of the material) by Harriet Riddell 2016


Home      Works      Discography      Video      Performances      PhD      Contact