George Nicholson Composer, pianist and conductor

…a Tippett-like gift for ideas and encounters of a vivid human character.

The Times

My work is rooted in an abiding fascination with the physical properties of musical instruments and the capabilities of players and singers. In fact, as a rounded musician, I feel the need to engage in live performance on a regular basis and to experience the active role of bridging the gap between the composed music on the page and the audience. For me the experience of performing and hearing music is a vital form of human communication, and I believe that the medium of music is fully capable of providing both emotional and intellectual nourishment.

Although music is in essence an abstract and non-verbal form of communication, I have often been stimulated to write in direct response to literary or visual sources. Musical ideas are also very often suggested by the physical nature and the sonic characteristics of instruments, and it is my belief that the best results come from an intimate knowledge of performance techniques and from working with the grain of the instrument; this is even more important when new ground is being broken, and contact with skilled practitioners is absolutely vital. Over the years I have been very privileged to work in close dialogue with some extraordinarily gifted and visionary performers, musicians who have developed and exploited new technical means, and have extended the expressive range of their instruments. We share the same kind of musical curiosity, as well as a desire to explore new musical situations, and it is always both a challenge and a thrill to spark ideas off each other.

The idea of flames without light derives from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Nicholson translates it into correspondingly lugubrious patterns, alleviating the gloom through wind multiphonics and keyboard harmonics – smoke and fire, as it were.

Tempo (review of Darkness Visible)

Recent blog posts

Musical Opinion Review

Concert reviews are pretty thin on the ground these days, and so it was good to come across this write-up in the April 2024 edition of Musical Opinion. In November 2023 Madeleine Mitchell premiered several movements of my Spindrift in the concert she gave in Sheffield with Nigel Clayton. There follows Paul Conway’s review in […]

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