Huw Watkins

Huw Watkins, one of the UK’s most admired musicians, has built a strong reputation with a body of distinctive orchestral, chamber and vocal works.  A recent winner of the vocal category at the 2011 British Composer Awards, he will work with Orchestra of the Swan as composer in residence for a period of two years from 2012.  

Huw Watkins was born in Wales in 1976 and studied piano with Peter Lawson at Chetham’s School of Music and composition with Robin Holloway, Alexander Goehr and Julian Anderson at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. He was awarded the RCM’s Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship in 2001 and now teaches composition there.

After the Nash Ensemble premiered his Sonata for cello and eight instruments in 1999, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales comissioned Sinfonietta and Piano Concerto which was premiered in 2002 with the composer at the piano. This wider attention led to commissions from the London Symphony Orchestra (London Concerto, to mark their centenary in 2005) and a Double Concerto premiered by Philip Dukes (viola) and Josephine Knight (cello) at the Proms with BBC NOW conducted by Jac van Steen. He also received his first US commission from the Cincinnatti Chamber Orchestra which resulted in Nocturne for horn and chamber orchestra.

Huw Watkins is in great demand as pianist and is regularly heard on Radio Three, both as a soloist and chamber musician. He has a strong commitment to the performance of new music, and has given premieres of works by Alexander Goehr, Peter Maxwell Davies and Michael Zev Gordon. He has performed concertos with BBC SO, London Sinfonietta and BBCNOW, with whom he gave the first performance of his own Piano Concerto in 2002. His recordings include Thomas Adès’s song cycle The Lover in Winter with the countertenor Robin Blaze for EMI Classics and Alexander Goehr’s Symmetry Disorders Reach for Wergo in 2007. Recordings of Mendelssohn and Martinu sonatas for cello and piano with his brother, Paul Watkins, have been released on Chandos.

Huw Watkins was Featured Composer at the 2009 Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts, and Composer in Residence at both the 2011 Heimbach Festival (at the invitation of Lars Vogt) and Nürnberg Festival. Watkins was named winner of the Vocal Award at the 2011 British Composer Awards for his Five Larkin Songs which he premiered with Carolyn Sampson at the 2010 Weekend of English Song in Ludlow. His most recent orchestral work was a Violin Concerto for Alina Ibragimova, commissioned at her request by the BBC and premiered during the 2010 BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner. A disc of his music will be released by NMC this year.