Naresh Sohal

1939 - 2018

British

Summary

Naresh Sohal was born and educated in India, and from an early age displayed an interest in western music. He arrived in England in 1962 to study at the City Literary Institute and then the London College of Music. 

An Arts Council bursary enabled him to research the compositional aspects of micro-tonal intervals, under the supervision of Alexander Goehr. In 1965 Sohal completed his first orchestral score Asht Prahar (1965); a tone poem based on the Indian concept of the eight periods of day and night. This was immediately followed by Surya (1965) for chorus, percussion and solo flute, which was broadcast on the BBC by the Ambrosian singers. 

Both Zubin Mehta and Andrew Davis have commissioned two pieces each from Sohal; the former for the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra and the latter for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Since the mid-1970s, Sohal became increasingly well-known both in the UK and overseas; he was the guest of the Van Beinum Foundation in the Netherlands, attended the ‘East Meets West’ conference in the Far East, and his work Hexad (1971) was included in a major international tour by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Ensemble, receiving eighteen performances in 11 countries. 

Running parallel to his classical music was Sohal’s success as a writer of film and television music, and he also completed three courses in television direction. He composed and directed music for Sir William in search of Xanadu directed by Barrie Gavin; three episodes of the acclaimed End of Empire and four episodes of Apartheid both directed for Granada Television by Alan Segal. 

The Wanderer (1981), a major commission from the BBC was premiered at a Proms Concert with the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to great acclaim. The Wanderer is only one in a series of large-scale works that demonstrates Sohal’s ear for orchestral colour and From Gitanjali (1984), commissioned for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and performed under Zubin Mehta, is another outstanding example from Sohal’s extensive catalogue. 

Naresh Sohal was one of the few Indian-born composers to make his mark in western classical music, a fact acknowledged on 26th January 1987 when the President of India awarded him the Padma Shri - the Order of the Lotus - for services to Western Music. His music is continuously acknowledged internationally with performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic among others. 

The composer died on 30 April 2018, aged 78.

Biography

Naresh Sohal was born and educated in India, and from an early age displayed an interest in western music. He arrived in England in 1962 to study at the City Literary Institute and then the London College of Music. 

An Arts Council bursary enabled him to research the compositional aspects of micro-tonal intervals, under the supervision of Alexander Goehr. In 1965 Sohal completed his first orchestral score Asht Prahar (1965); a tone poem based on the Indian concept of the eight periods of day and night. This was immediately followed by Surya (1965) for chorus, percussion and solo flute, which was broadcast on the BBC by the Ambrosian singers. 

Both Zubin Mehta and Andrew Davis have commissioned two pieces each from Sohal; the former for the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra and the latter for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Since the mid-1970s, Sohal became increasingly well-known both in the UK and overseas; he was the guest of the Van Beinum Foundation in the Netherlands, attended the ‘East Meets West’ conference in the Far East, and his work Hexad (1971) was included in a major international tour by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Ensemble, receiving eighteen performances in 11 countries. 

Running parallel to his classical music was Sohal’s success as a writer of film and television music, and he also completed three courses in television direction. He composed and directed music for Sir William in search of Xanadu directed by Barrie Gavin; three episodes of the acclaimed End of Empire and four episodes of Apartheid both directed for Granada Television by Alan Segal. 

The Wanderer (1981), a major commission from the BBC was premiered at a Proms Concert with the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to great acclaim. The Wanderer is only one in a series of large-scale works that demonstrates Sohal’s ear for orchestral colour and From Gitanjali (1984), commissioned for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and performed under Zubin Mehta, is another outstanding example from Sohal’s extensive catalogue. 

Naresh Sohal was one of the few Indian-born composers to make his mark in western classical music, a fact acknowledged on 26th January 1987 when the President of India awarded him the Padma Shri - the Order of the Lotus - for services to Western Music. His music is continuously acknowledged internationally with performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic among others. 

The composer died on 30 April 2018, aged 78.

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