Note to ND from Jon Nicholls....
..................Sounds from the real world and music have always been rather blurred in my head. Although I began learning the piano at the age of six, and went on to learn violin and bassoon, I think the first sound that made a very strong musical impression on me was the gurgling of the 1930ís plumbing in the bathroom at my grandmotherís house, and for almost as long as I can remember Iíve always been fascinated by the musical qualities of the everyday sounds around us.
I think Iíve always written music for things. I started composing at school a few years later, and as well as lugging flightcases round pub carparks at unsociable times of night in various prog rock bands, was soon writing music for school plays. Around the same time I started to play around with tape recorders and began to get very excited about transforming sounds in a very physical sense by sliding bits of tape around. I went on to study English at university, but spent almost all my time either composing, playing keyboards in a succession of rock, funk and soul bands, and writing music for student theatre productions and films. After leaving university I went to the London College of Music to study composition with the leading Scottish composer John McLeod, and then went to Dartington to study electroacoustic music.
During this time Iíd built up relationships with several theatre companies and film-makes, some of which have lasted to this day, and over the past ten years Iíve composed over 250 music and sound scores for a whole range of theatre, radio, dance and screen projects. Some of the theatre companies I work with regularly include the Birmingham Rep, Northern Stage, Northampton Theatre Royal, Sheffield Crucible, Derby Playhouse, Theatr Clywd, the Unicorn Theatre and Red Shift. I also compose for TV documentaries and short films, and I especially love radio drama - as both a listener and composer; it seems to me to be a medium of almost limitless possibilities, which demands a truly active engagement by the listener. Iíve recently started a very exciting series of collaborations with writers, creating live performance pieces for voice and soundscape, most recently with the poet Jackie Kay. Iíve written an opera, ĎFalling Acrossí, which was premiered two years ago, and Ė finally - I also teach, play and compose for Javanese gamelan, which I started playing at the South Bank Centre when I was at music college and which has become a huge part of my life. Some of my most treasured memories are of playing gamelan alongside Indonesian musicians, surrounded by choruses of frogs and monkeys from the forests around the city of Yogyakarta in Java, and the structures and concepts of gamelan music are always present in my music at some level or other.
Jon Nicholls Ė principal work to date:
RADIO / TV / FILM
Music and sound design for radio drama (Radio 3 & 4) includes:
Friday Plays: Between Friends, What I Heard About Iraq (Jury Special Mention Prix Italia 2008), Drama on 3: Babelís Tower, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Time Machine, The Histories of Herodotus
Afternoon Plays: Caesar Price Our Lord, Itís Better With Animals
Womanís Hour Serial: Faust, The Quest
Screen work includes numerous documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky, and over thirty short films.
Major productions as composer and sound designer include Rutherford & Son (Northern Stage), Amadeus and Masterclass (Derby Playhouse), Art, Blue Remembered Hills, Silas Marner and The Changelings (Theatr Clwyd), Oz (Unicorn Theatre), Private Lives, If I Were You, Much Ado About Nothing and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Manchester Library Theatre), Life-Stock, Linda, Longshore Drift, Katherine DeSouza and The Mother Ship (Birmingham Rep), Humble Boy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Beyond the Horizon and Spring Storm (Northampton Theatre Royal), Therese Raquin, The Rivals and Alice in Wonderland (Basingstoke Haymarket), Me And My Shadow and Shelf Life (Theatre Alibi), and Hamlet, Hansel & Gretel, The Love Child, Nosferatu, Nicholas Nickleby, Get Carter, The Legend of King Arthur and Vertigo (Red Shift).
OPERA / MUSIC THEATRE & INSTRUMENTAL / ELECTROACOUSTIC COMPOSITION
Opera with libretto by Michael Akraka for soprano, counter-tenor, bass-baritone, chorus & ensemble. Co-commissioned by Birmingham Rep and Birmingham 2007 Collide Festival, and premiered at St Peters and St Johnís church, Ladywood, Birmingham, May 2007.
The Seamstressí Revenge
Music-theatre piece for two actors, cello and electronics; text by Michael Akraka. Commissioned by the Birmingham Rep and performed at the Birmingham Rep, 2005.
Instrumental music includes Y Ffordd Dhu for orchestra, Bathyscape for string quartet, bassoon, clarinet and horn, & Vice Versa for brass quintet and the curious caseÖ for string quartet
Numerous pieces for Javanese gamelan including, Tic Tac Toe, Hati Hati, Crazy Paving and Tongs & Bones and Lullaby for Rani.
Electroacoustic concert works include Vague Motion, Maya, Jingle and open / shut
Wish I Was Here for voice and sound score, with text and live performance by Jackie Kay, Wig for voice and sound score, with text and live performance by Patrick Gale and Some Voices for voice and sound score, with text and live performance by Valerie Bloom.
compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website
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