The British composer was born in Scotland in 1954, but grew up near London. She studied composition with John Tavener and then with Robin Hoolway at Cambridge University. She wrote a series of operas (including King Harald’s Saga, The Black Spider, A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert) which were frequently performed in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and the US. Her most recent opera is Miss Fortune, which premiered in Bregenz in 2011 and was subsequently performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. As resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, she wrote several works for orchestra and choir (including Forest, Storm and We are Shadows) which were were premiered under the orchestra’s then chief conductor, Simon Rattle. She wrote works for the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Music Untangled and Natural History), the Minnesota Orchestra (The Welcome Arrival of Rain) and for a number of notable singers, including Jane Manning, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman, Sarah Connolly and Alice Coote. In recent years she has taught as a visiting professor at Princeton, Harvard and Cardiff universities. In recognition of her work, she received a CBE (1995) and the Queen’s Medal for Music (2007). In 2014 she was appointed Master of The Queen’s Music, succeeding Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Since the death of Queen Elizabeth she has been Master of the King’s Music and will hold this position for ten years. One of her most important tasks to date has been composing music for the coronation of King Charles on May 6, 2023.
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