Described as ‘boldly imaginative’ [the Times], ‘a talent to watch’ [New York Times] and ‘one of the most interesting voices of his generation‘ [Limelight], Gavin Higgins is one of Britains most exciting and gifted compositional talents.
Higgins was born in Gloucestershire (1983) and studied french horn and composition at Chetham’s School of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music, and the Royal College of Music.
Significant commissions include Der Aufstand for the 2012 BBC Proms, Rough Voices for the 2020 BBC Proms, and the ‘fast, exciting and brilliantly scored’ [the Telegraph] Velocity for the Last Night of the 2014 BBC Proms; the Ivor Novello Award winning trombone concerto, The Book of Miracles (2019) – premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and soloist Helen Vollam; and the premiere of his first opera The Monstrous Child, (2019) at the Royal Opera House which opened to critical acclaim, described as ‘a triumph’ [the Guardian ★★★★] and ‘a spectacular new opera’ [Culture Whisper ★★★★]. His biggest and most ambitious piece to date, the ‘ingenuous work‘ [the Observer ★★★★★] Concerto Grosso for Brass Band and Orchestra was recently premiered at the 2022 BBC Proms to great acclaim; whilst his ‘bold and brilliant’ [the Times] cantata, The Faerie Bride, with librettist Francesca Simon, was premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival with Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Roddy Williams.
Higgins comes from a long lineage of working-class brass band musicians dating back to 1895 and his passion for this heritage has resulted in a number of vigorous, daring works for brass such as Destroy, Trample as Swiftly as She (2011), Prophecies (2017) and So Spoke Albion (2019) commissioned for the European Brass Band Championships.
Higgins was appointed Rambert Dance Company’s inaugural Music Fellow in 2010, writing ballet scores including What Wild Ecstasy (2012) and the award winning Dark Arteries (2016). Higgins has received BASCA nominations for A Forest Symphony (2009), What Wild Ecstasy (2012), Diversions After Benjamin Britten (2013), The Ruins of Detroit (2015), and A Dark Arteries Suite (2018). Dark Arteries was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award (2016) and in 2019 he won an Ivor Novello Award for The Book of Miracles.
His debut album of chamber music, Ekstasis — ‘seductively sinewy and sensuously gritty‘ [Limelight ★★★★★], was released in 2019 to wide acclaim. An album of chamber works that confirms ‘a fastidious and arresting compositional voice‘ [Gramophone], with music that, ‘constantly intrigues and fascinates with its combination of sophisticated instrumental writing and magical textures‘ [Planet Hughill ★★★★★]
His career thus far has seen Higgins commissioned by – and work with – orchestras, ensembles and soloists including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 10:10, The Royal Opera House, Rambert, the Carducci Quartet, the Fidelio Trio, the Piatti Quartet, David Cohen and Mark Simpson.
Gavin is currently Composer in Association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.