Gavin Higgins


Concerto Grosso for Brass Band and Orchestra

“In five movements, this ingenious work united the two soundworlds and drew on the best-known brass styles.” [★★★★★]
The Observer – 13th August 2022

“I think it’s the occasion when the poor old critic has to reach for the sharpest word in their lexicon, which in my case is, ‘wow!’ It was a spectacular piece, it was magnificent in this hall … just an astonishing jamboree of sound.”
Fiona Maddocks – live on BBC Radio 3, 8th August 2022

“A vivid and expressive love letter to brass bands” … “It’s superbly worked out, not only showcasing the brilliance of the Tredegar players, but also satisfyingly working through the large-scale scheme with vivid musical ideas.” [★★★★]
The Guardian – 9th August 2022

The Faerie Bride

“Weaving traditional Welsh folk songs into the mezzo’s lines and bringing a pastoral lyricism to wind writing invoking the passing seasons, Higgins’ control of his orchestral forces was highly assured, and combined with an equal instinct for colouristic and atmospheric detail.” [★★★★]
The Guardian – 19th June 2022

“A bold and brilliant premiere” … “Higgins’s 40-minute piece is superbly atmospheric, whether evoking a murky lake, the ecstatic dawning of love, a folk wedding or a village tragedy. It’s also a very moving parable, touching on cultural incomprehensions and closed minds that are as prevalent today as in the primordial mists of Welsh myth.” [★★★★]
The Times – 20th June 2022

The Monstrous Child

“Gavin Higgins’ operatic debut is a triumph”
The Guardian

“A spectacular new opera”
Culture Whisper

The Guardian ★★★★
The Times ★★★★
The Observer ★★★★
The Stage ★★★★
The Arts Desk ★★★★
Bachtrack ★★★★
Planet Hughill ★★★★1/2
The Express ★★★★
Culture Whisper ★★★★
MusicOMH ★★★★
Opera Now (‘the music is highly engaging’)
The London Magazine (‘The Monstrous Child is a daring and exciting new opera’)

Rough Voices

Rough Voices is music of anger and despair; orchestral screams punctuate a chorale played by the strings. Incessant, repetitive rhythmic figures drove the work to a quiet, hauntingly beautiful conclusionThe remarkable works that have poured forth from composers in lockdown have channeled the fears, frustrations and hopes of so many. If there is a silver lining to this cloud, Rough Voices is part of that fabric.”
Seen and Heard International – 11th September 2020

His new piece Rough Voices was placed as the centrepiece of the Prom programme, and through its sheer quality it had definitely earned that prominent exposure”As the mood becomes more urgent, as the precise yet forceful percussion became more dominant, it carries you with it and holds the attention, before the final return to contemplation.”
The Arts Desk – 9th September 2020

Rough Voices, commissioned as a response to Covid-19, is grieving, fierce and dissonant, a howl of protest at how the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poorest in society – “a rallying call for the underclasses” as Higgins describes it.”
The Guardian – 10th September 2020

The striking Proms commission from Gavin HigginsHiggins organised his material with pungent skill, tension and drama.
The Times – 9th September 2020

Gavin Higgins’s Rough Voices had passion and punch and produced a remarkably robust, energised soundworld from the reduced forces.”
The Times Literary Supplement – 18th September 2020

Ekstasis (feat. the Piatti Quartet, the Fidelio Trio, Thomas Gould, David Cohen, and Sara Roberts)

One of the most interesting voices of his generation”Ekstasis offers first recordings of four very different, distinct chamber works, composed between 2015 and 2021, that reveal Higgins as an artisan craftsman of tightly threaded textures loosely, lyrically woven. [★★★★1/2]
Limelight Magazine – 2nd March 2022

“This is the first release devoted to Gavin Higgins (b1983) and features four chamber or instrumental works that confirm a fastidious and arresting compositional voice.”

“The music constantly intrigues and fascinates with its combination of sophisticated instrumental writing and magical textures” … “The music of the sextet is full of remarkable moments and striking incident. Throughout, Higgins is in terrific control of his forces, using the six strings to create some magical and intriguing moments.” [★★★★★]
Planet Hughill – 14th January 2022

“The different works on this album are a testament to Higgins’s imaginative, wide-reaching approach to composition. Within each piece, there’s a darkness and murkiness. it’s an arresting programme, handled with dexterity and panache by these chamber musicians.” [★★★★]
BBC Music Magazine – December 2021

Dark Arteries

“Music of such ingenuity, flair and skill”

The Stage – 13th May 2015

“Packs a huge emotional punch. Utterly brilliant.”
the Arts Desk – 14th January 2017

“Gavin Higgins’s brass band commission for Mark Baldwin’s Dark Arteries… is an ambitious, deliciously theatrical musical experience that infuses Baldwin’s sober, fatalistic dance with humour, and deserves concert-hall life”
The Spectator – 21st November 2015

“A newly commissioned score by Gavin Higgins full of deep rumbles, driving syncopation and sweet clashing chords.”
The London Evening Standard – 13th May 2015

“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.”
The Arts Desk – 13th May 2015

“Higgins’s music is slow and subtle, and I would really have liked to listen with my eyes shut”
The Arts Desk – 13th May 2015

Dark Arteries is a big, ambitious work that looks impressive and sounds wonderful… the deep, rumbling tones of the brass band set out a musical landscape of the welsh villages and mines so effectively.”
Bachtrack – 14th May 2015

“Gavin Higgins’ strong score is played by the magnificent Tredegar Town Band… the effect is highly emotional in considering the shared griefs, the inevitability of tragedy”
The Financial Times – 14th May 2015

“Higgins’s music will certainly stand on its own as a concert work”
Dancetabs – 15th May 2015

“Genuine emotions throb through Dark Arteries, Gavin Higgins’s bravura brass music plundering the depths of the tubas and high skitterings of cornets”
The Spectator – 23rd May 2015

[Higgins’s score]… which though astringent managed to successfully convey moments of pure beauty, carnality, desperate sorrow and hope. It is a piece that easily convinces of its message and stands alone.
Brass Band World – June 2015 – issue 245

“…the dark, glittering sound pallete of Higgins’s score”
The Guardian – 13th May 2015

Dark Arteries is driven by its music… Higgins’ layers of chiming, rumbling sound”
The Independent – 13th May 2015


“Gavin Higgins: a talent to watch, not least for the way he handles large orchestral forces with impressive clarity and purpose.”
New York Times – 15th September 2014

[Velocity…] hit the spot exactly. It was fast, exciting, brilliantly scored, and had one high point of gorgeous sonorousness where the organ could let rip”
The Telegraph – 14th September 2014

Velocity… was excitable, insistent and did not outstay its welcome”
London Evening Standard – 15th September 2014

“Higgins’s use of varied colours is remarkably skilful; his writing accomplished, stylish and gifted”
Classical Source – 13th September 2014

Der Aufstand

“…even better, Gavin Higgins’s Der Aufstand, a boldly imaginative response to last summer’s riots, powerfully conveyed by the wind orchestra and James Gourlay”
The Times – 13th August 2012

“The NYWO introduced Gavin Higgins’s Der Aufstand, a nicely imagined and controlled depiction of last summer’s British riots”
The Guardian – 13th August 2012

“…whilst Higgins, not for the first time, showed himself to be a composer of vivid imagination and expressive power”
MusicWeb International – 16th August 2012

“Highlights were very definitely the NYWO’s version of Brixtonite Gavin Higgins’ monumental response to the 2011 riots’
The Arts Desk – 13th August 2012

What Wild Ecstasy

“The deliberately rebarbative dissonance of Gavin Higgins’s score mark it more vividly still a cousin of a ballet exactly one year younger than Faune, 
The Rite of Spring.”
The Telegraph – 16th May 2012

“Gavin Higgins’s blasting, warping score drives the choreography into an enjoyably wild kaleidoscope of apache dances, tango and ballet”
The Guardian – 16th May 2012

“Gavin Higgins’s score … is a riot of rutting strings and rude brass”
The Telegraph – 22nd May 2012

What Wild Ecstasy has a fine and rumbustious score by Gavin Higgins”
The Financial Times – May 16th 2012

“The Rambert Dancers buzzed around to Gavin Higgins’ Caustic score”
Dancing Review – May 16th 

“…Baldwin’s quirky and off-beat choreography was matched every step of the way by Gavin Higgins’s score”
Kelly Apter – The Scotsman

“Higgins’s music has streaks of menace as well as mischief, and Baldwin’s choreography unerringly matches both strands’
Mary Brennan – Herald Scotland

Other Works

“…overshadowing them all was the concert’s final work… Gavin Higgins’ ‘the Ruins of Detroit… Higgins’s textures were often strikingly vivid”
5against4 – July 7th 2014

“There’s a great deal of uneasy truth to be heard in Three Broken Love Songs...”
5:4 – 15th February 2014

[Destroy, Trample, as Swiftly as She] “It’s terrific music. Not just terrific brass music.”
the Arts Desk – 14 January 2017

[Destroy, Trample, as Swiftly as She] “Not since hearing John McCabe’s Cloudcatcher Fells for the first time has this writer been so excited about the textural possibilities of the brass band – a door to a new vista has surely been opened by Higgins’s extraordinary work”
Christoper Thomas – Brass Band World Magazine, February 2012 – issue 211, pg 23