About Me

I'm a composer, academic, and out-of-practice pianist based in London. My music has been played throughout Europe and the US, both in conventional concert halls, experimental music venues and places not designed for music at all. I've enjoyed hearing my music played in freezing spaces under London (I think some of it might still be resonating in the Brunel Tunnel) as much, and often more, than in the South Bank Center, Carnegie Hall or Herbst Theatre. I've recently worked with a wide range of contemporary music groups, including PlusMinus, EXAUDI, 12 Ensemble, Mosaik and Either/Or. In more distant times my music was chosen for the South Bank Center's State of Nation Weekend and Gaudeamus Music Week, and featured on BBC4's Classic Britannia TV show.

I'm especially interested, though, in developing long term collaborative relationships with performers, and making recordings with them, which have led to two portrait discs, both released on Carrier Records. These artists include pianist Roderick Chadwick, for whom I wrote a miniature concerto, After and Before, which he recorded with Ensemble PlusMinus as a key part of The Music of Making Strange. Cellist Lucy Railton also features on almost all of that CD, and a piece written for (and with) her in 2008, Knight's Move, played a huge part in me finding the 'sound' I identify with my music now. Violinist Aisha Orazbayeva has also been essential in in that process, and features extensively on both recording projects, most notably in the concerto OutsideIn, which gives the second disc its name and wouldn't have been possible without her extraordinary virtuosity. 

The control of the recording studio has given a very particular life to my sounds that reminds me of sticking my head under the open piano lid to try them out, and also the possibility of editing and producing the pieces rather as one would a pop album. I hope the recordings aren't a duplication, for better or worse, of the live experience of the pieces, but rather a a kind of work in their own right, that equally requires my role, the performers, and the recording engineers and producers. Erik Nystrom, a superb electroacoustic composer as well as sound engineer, has been particularly important to me in my discovery of the recording process.

I teach at the Royal Academy of Music, where my post is as a Lecturer in Analysis and Contemporary Music. My teaching involves both tonal analysis and harmony, to which I'm passionately committed pedagogically if not artistically, and running a seminar for the Phd composers and a class in performance practice for experimental music. It is a source of real delight for me to see so many outstanding young performers taking a passionate interest in music that hasn't traditionally flourished in a conservatoire environment. I'm very proud that the 4|12 Collective grew out of this class (in Room 4|12!), and that I got to write Short Long Shrink Stretch for them and their astonishing percussionist Jacob Brown. Although I don't consider myself a musicologist, I do write and give talks about music-analytical (and more broadly philosophical) issues occasionally, and some of those can be found in the Writings part of this website. From 2008 to 2014 I also wrote a monthly column on pop music for Clash Magazine where I was sent 5 songs to review blind, 'Royal Academy Reviews'.

Outside music I have a serious (some would say obsessive) interest in food and wine, as anyone following the link to my Instagram will quickly discover, a slightly incongruous one in sports, and in literary fiction both classic and contemporary.

Click below for a formal biography for programmes:


email: josquinian[at]hotmail[dot]com