Biography & Career Summary
Born and partly brought up in Germany, Brian Inglis (b. Münster, 1969) studied music at the University of Durham and composition at City University, London – an MA was awarded in 1993 (along with the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers’ Prize), and a PhD in 1999. His principal teachers were John Casken and Roger Redgate (Durham); Simon Holt and Rhian Samuel (City). Outside academia, he has attended the Dartington International Summer School (studying with Stephen Montague and Miguel Mera), Aberystwyth’s Musicfest (studying with John Metcalfe) and the Dundaga Workshop (Latvia) where, in 2004, he was interviewed for Latvian TV.
Brian first came to attention as a composer when his Responsory – a setting of words by Hildegard of Bingen – was performed at the 1992 Huddersfield Festival. Further Hildegard settings followed, culminating in an opera about her life – Hildegard von Bingen (1997) – part of which was included in Brian’s doctoral submission. Another early interest was the poetry of the First World War, which was combined with Brian’s Hildegardian concerns in the oratorio Visions of Sorrow and Joy (1998-9): a commission from Bath Choral Society sponsored by Making Music’s pilot ‘Adopt a Composer’ scheme, mentored by Diana Burrell. Brian’s music has also been heard at the Sonorities festival (Belfast, 1997) and the South Bank Centre’s Birtwistle festival (2004).
Of Irish and Scottish heritage, Brian lived in Wales from 1997-1999. In 1999 he was chosen for a commission to celebrate the Millennium in Wales, leading to the composition of Jubilee Prayer (setting texts from Leviticus and Davydd ap Gwilym) performed at Cardiff’s Tabernacl and broadcast on BBC2, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru in 2000. His music has also been broadcast on BBC radios 1 and 3, Resonance FM (London) and Bayern 2 (Germany). Many other choral commissions have followed. Highbury Fields, a cantata for chorus and orchestra written in collaboration with lyricist Charles Hart (The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Love Never Dies), premiered at London’s Cadogan Hall in June 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Islington Choral Society; A Christmas Alleluia was commissioned by Bedford School for their 2015 carol services.
Passionate about collaborating, from 2003 to 2007 Brian was a member of the band Hicks Milligan-Prophecy, supporting The Fall and Alabama 3 and appearing at festivals in the UK (Secret Garden Party) and Sweden (I Kärlekens Namn). EP The Good, the Bad and the Iceberg was released by Atomicduster in 2006. He has collaborated with singer-songwriter Tim Holehouse, arranging strings for and playing the piano on the album From the Dawn Chorus (2007). From 2006 to 2010 he also worked occasionally with ‘nonsense facilitators’ Lost and Found, accompanying their Helium Choir performances at Bestival and Spitalfields Christmas festivals and on Rob da Bank’s Radio 1 show.
Having collaborated with the artist Derek Shiel on a work with spiritual themes (Invocation, 2003) for Gallery Oldham and the Guildford International Music Festival, a commission for Shiel’s sound sculptures was premiered by Sarah Leonard and Sculpted Sound at the Central School of Speech and Drama (April 2009) to celebrate the centenary of Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto.
In 2008 and 2009, the one-woman opera The Song of Margery Kempe was given its concert and stage premieres by Loré Lixenberg at the Tête-à-Tête opera festival (Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London) supported by the Bliss Trust/PRS Foundation (2009 production designed by Paul Burgess). Brian’s third opera, The Break-Up, a six-word operatic miniature written for the Warehouse Ensemble was performed at the 2011 Tête-à-Tête festival.
In February 2009 Brian curated Gabriel Prokofiev’s groundbreaking classical club night Nonclassical at the Macbeth, Hoxton (London), later joining the Board of Nonclassical as a Trustee. In the summer of the same year he had a residency at the International Centre for Composers in Visby, Gotland (Sweden). A commission for recorder ensemble Consortium5, Burmese Pictures, has toured venues and festivals (Kings Place, Deal, Truck, Spitalfields) throughout the UK since 2010 and was released on the Nonclassical record label (Tangled Pipes, NONCLSS 008) in 2011.
Brian has long been an admirer of 19th century French composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, and one fruit of this is his Concerto for Piano Solo (Homage to Alkan), written for the bicentenary of his birth and premiered by Gabriel Keen at the Stoke Newington Contemporary Music Festival. Gabriel’s follow-up studio recording was released by Sargasso in 2017 on Brian’s debut solo album of piano music, Living Stones.
2018 premieres constitute Piano Trio, a commission from the London Chamber Music Society premiered by the Aquinas Trio at Kings Place; and Four Pieces for Toy Piano, commissioned by Kate Ryder and premiered by her at Borough New Music.
Senior lecturer and BA Programme Leader at Middlesex University, Brian has also worked in teaching, music publishing and performing right administration. He has written articles, programme notes, profiles and reviews for organisations including the BBC (Concert Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Proms), the PRS magazine M and the contemporary music journal Tempo. His musicological work, like some of his compositional practice, centres around overarching themes of genre and identity (especially marginalised ones). It includes conference papers, book chapters, journal articles and an edition of Kaikhosru Sorabji’s letters to Peter Warlock (with Barry Smith) scheduled for publication in 2019.