Recent successes include the premiere of the ‘fast, exciting and brilliantly scored’ [The Telegraph] Velocity – commissioned by the BBC to open the Last Night of the 2014 Proms and voted one of the ‘10 most popular pieces since 2000’ on Danish classical radio station, DRP2; the ‘extremely impressive’ [Classical Source] Ivors Award shortlisted 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 ★★★★].
The Gloucester born composer 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 commissioned for the 2011 European Brass Band Championships, of which Brass Band World magazine said: ‘a door to a new vista has surely been opened by Higgins’s extraordinary work’; and his ground-breaking score for Rambert Dance Company, Dark Arteries on which the Arts Desk commented: ‘Gavin Higgins is a properly orchestral composer, capable of handling multiple texture and harmonic and rhythmic complexity in a way sadly too rare in contemporary dance scores.’
Dark Arteries was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award in the Large-Scale Work category (2016) – the first time for a brass band work – and A Dark Arteries Suite was shortlisted for BASCA award (2018). Other British Composer Award nominations include A Forest Symphony (2009) in the Wind and Brass category; What Wild Ecstasy (2012) in the stage works category; Diversions After Benjamin Britten: Toccata (2013) in the Wind and Brass category (2012); The Ruins of Detroit (2015) in the Chamber work category; and an Ivor’s Award nomination for his trombone concerto, The Book of Miracles (2019) in the Orchestral work category.
The premiere recording of his works for brass, Dark Arteries: the Music of Gavin Higgins, won the British Bandsman CD of the year award, Brass Band World CD of the year award and the 4Barsrest CD of year award in 2016.
A growing catalogue of orchestral and chamber music has featured in major international festivals such as Der Aufstand, commissioned as part of the BBC Proms 2012; What Wild Ecstasy, commissioned by Rambert Dance Company as part of the New Music 20X12 festival; The Ruins of Detroit (2015) commissioned by the Britten Pears Foundation; and ENDGAME (2011) and Gursky Landscapes (2017) commissioned by Cheltenham Festival
His career thus far has seen Higgins commissioned by – and work with – some of the country’s leading orchestras, ensembles and soloists including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC NOW, London Sinfonietta, Manchester Camerata, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble 10:10, Rambert, the Carducci Quartet, the Fidelio Trio, David Cohen, Mark Simpson.