David Lancaster

b. 1960



David Lancaster is a composer whose work has been performed, recorded and broadcast internationally.

Originally from Wigan (Lancashire, UK), David began his musical career on trumpet before studying music at York and Cambridge universities. As a young composer he gained several important awards including the Lloyds Bank Young Composer Award, Michael Tippett Award, LCM Centenary Prize and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival Composer Award; his music was performed by Kronos Quartet, Lontano, Electric Phoenix, Nancy Ruffer, Alexander Baillie and others, and for three years he was RVW Composer-in-Residence at Charterhouse.

In recent times, much of David’s music has been concerned with forging links with the medieval heritage which surrounds him at home in York and on his many visits to castles, cathedrals and abbeys around the UK and Europe. For example, his choral Apocalypse (which was performed in Copenhagen and broadcast by the Danish Radio Vocal Ensemble conducted by Robert Hollingworth) tells of the world’s end as depicted in York’s medieval stained glass, and the woodwind quartet Grotesques was prompted by stone carvings in the Chapter House of York Minster. David has recently completed a new choral work At the Edge of the World, in collaboration with poet Abi Curtis, inspired by the extraordinary visions of 14th century anchoress Emma Raughton, to be issued on CD on the Resonus Classics label.

More recent visual art has also played an important role: Strata (given its first performance by the Orchestra of Opera North and subsequently recorded for CD by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra under Mikel Toms) was inspired by an early 20th century depiction of class structure, whilst the brass quintet Breathless was a response to Cornelia Parker‘s sculpture of the same name which hangs in the V&A Museum.

In recent years David’s music has been characterised by greater economy of means and a search for further clarity of form and expression. In this respect, David sometimes draws upon cinematic techniques, applying such ideas as montage, assembly, dissolve and intercutting to his compositional practice; Strike for ensemble (which draws upon the theories of Eisenstein), and Jump Cut for solo clarinet are examples of this, but it permeates much of his work.

David enjoys collaborating with poets, film makers, choreographers and performers, and his current projects include settings of poetry by John Goodby. He has also set older texts by David Vogel, who perished at Auschwitz in 1944 (in The Dark Gate), and John Donne, whose Holy Sonnets provided the text for a major choral/orchestral work Of Trumpets and Angels, commissioned by the Oxford Harmonic Choir in 2019.

His music has been recorded for CD by performers including the Delta Saxophone Quartet, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Juice Vocal Ensemble, baritone Paul Carey Jones and pianist Duncan Honeybourne; a new recording by the Ex Corde Vocal Ensemble will be released in the autumn of 2022.

David Lancaster was awarded PhD in Composition at the University of York, where he was supervised by Professor Roger Marsh. He is currently Associate Professor of Composition at York St John University, a director of York’s Late Music concert series and MD of York Railway Institute Band. David lives in York with his partner Bridget.

For more information, please visit David’s catalogue page at UYMP or his website https://www.davidcomposer.com/.