The early stages of his career saw Higgins receive substantial commissions, working with some of the country’s leading orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Northern Sinfonia and the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain. He has worked with soloists and ensembles such as Mark Simpson, the Flotilla Saxophone Quartet, the Tredegar Town Band, Rambert Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Fidelio Trio.
The Gloucester born composer comes from a long lineage of brass band musicians, dating back to 1895. Growing up in the Forest of Dean, he followed an initial musical training in the family brass band, with studies of french horn and composition at Chethams School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal College of Music with Gary Carpenter and Ken Hesketh.
Higgins has continued this heritage with high profile commissions and performances of vigorous, daring brass band pieces including Freaks (2007), Tango (2008), Fanfares and Loves Songs (2009) for the National Children’s Band of Great Britain, and, Destroy, Trample, As Swiftly As She, commissioned for the 2011 European Brass Band Championships in Montreux, Switzerland.
In 2010 he was appointed Rambert Dance Company’s Inaugural Music Fellow. This appointment has led to the ‘blasting, warping score’ (The Guardian) of, What Wild Ecstasy, and more recently the innovative and ambitious, RPS Music Awards nominated, Dark Arteries. The ballet was premiered at Sadler’s wells by Rambert and is currently on tour with the company.
Awards include BASCA nominations for A Forest Symphony (2009), What Wild Ecstasy (2012), Diversions After Benjamin Britten (20013) and The Ruins of Detroit (2015). The premiere recording of Dark Arteries has also won the British Bandsman CD of the year award, Brass Band World CD of the award and the 4barsrest CD and Newcomer of the year award. Gavin was recently awarded the Herbert Whitely Award for Creativity.
A Growing collection of ensemble and orchestral works have been featured at major festivals, such as the saxophone quartet, ENDGAME, commissioned as part of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival; and his ‘boldly imaginative response to last summer’s riots’ (The Times), Der Aufstand, which was commissioned as part of the 2012 BBC Proms.
Recent successes includes performances of Tänze by the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the premiere of his ‘striking’ (The Guardian) piano trio, The Ruins of Detroit – commissioned by the Britten Pears Foundation and performed by the Fidelio Trio at the Cheltenham Festival; and 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.
Gavin is currently working on a new opera with children’s author Francesca Simon.