Classical Composition

As a composer of contemporary classical music, John Irvine has received commissions and performances from numerous ensembles and players both nationally and internationally. His music has been played in Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Greece, France and the UK. He is also a published composer – with Rhythmscape, Australia.

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excerpt ‘Spectre’ from ‘Contact-Cuttings’ for Piano & Tape

The origins of his compositional thinking begin with the free-jazz and fusion movements of the 1960/70s, and the European and London-centred free-improvisation schools. During his years in Scotland (where he received his PhD in Composition from the University of Edinburgh in 1999) the sphere of influence shifted to include the work of the New York School (in particular Feldman and Wolff), the Québécois Electroacoustic composers (Dhomont, Normandeau, Gobeil et al.) and also the work of Frank Denyer; one of his teachers at Dartington.

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excerpt ‘Delk’ from ‘Five Very Short Pieces’ for Clarinet & Piano

From 2001 onwards, the majority of his compositions have been written for acoustic instruments and tape, with the tape part featuring a mixture of processed sounds, voices etc. There is also a strong theatrical and metaphorical element to these works that is at odds with traditional music making; questioning the values and intent of a compositional work and the cultural environment it is placed within.

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excerpt from ‘The Rhythm’ from ‘Songbook’ for Voice & Guitar

Selected Compositions

2018: ‘Against A Valley Spur’ (Cello & Piano)

2008: ‘Five Very Short Pieces’ (Clarinet & Piano)

2008: ‘A Hollow Place’ (Piano Duet)

2006: ‘Five Short Pieces’ (Solo Piano)

2004: ‘King Bee’ (Percussion & Tape)

2003: ‘My Name Is John MacKay’ (Organ, Percussion & Tape)

2002: ‘Journey To Horaizan’ (Percussion & Tape)

2001: ‘You, Astronaut’ (Clarinet, Percussion & Tape)

2001: ‘Contact- Cuttings’ (Piano & Tape)

1999: ‘Strange Language’ (Clarinet, Piano & Percussion)

1998: ‘Unbroken Network of Lines’ (Sop, Ensemble, Tape, Live Electronics, & Mixed Media)

1997: ‘Preservation & Loss’ (Percussion Quartet)

1995-97: ‘Chemicals & Waves’ (Large Orchestra)

1992-97: ‘Songbook’ (Soprano & Classical Guitar)