Tansy Davies is a boundary-crossing composer of contemporary classical music.

Tansy Davies started out singing and playing guitar in a rock band. She developed an interest in composition in her teens and studied composition and French horn at the Colchester Institute. In 1996 she was a BBC Young Composer, and subsequently studied with Simon Bainbridge at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with Simon Holt at Royal Holloway. She now teaches composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

She rose to prominence on the British scene with a sequence of works for the Composers Ensemble (Patterning, recorded by NMC), the London Sinfonietta (Torsion) and the Brunel Ensemble (The Void in this Colour). In 2004 Davies’s ‘neon’, a gritty collage of twisted modernist funk written for the Composers Ensemble, quickly became her calling card and continues to be performed internationally. In 2011 her album Troubairitz was released on Nonclassical;

Davies has been commissioned by numerous world class ensembles and orchestras, including the London Sinfonietta, the CBSO Youth Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the BBC Scottish Symphony Srchestra, BIT 20, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and a large-scale piece for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Wild Card, for the Proms in 2010. International groups including the Cantus Ensemble, Grup Instrumental de Valencia, the Tiroler Ensemble für Neue Musik, Musiques Nouvelles, Melos Ethos Ensemble, Orchestra of Filharmonia Baltycka, Israel Contemporary Players, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica de Chile, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and Tokyo Ensemble Factory, have performed her work.

Imaginative and offbeat, Davies’s work has taken its inspiration from sources as diverse as the architectures of Zaha Hadid (the 2004 trumpet concerto Spiral House) and the work of Anselm Kiefer (Falling Angel). Inspired by an acute visual/spatial sense, the visceral impact of her music occupies the same urban landscape as industrial techno and electronica. This can perhaps be partly attributed to her own immediate, physical sense of making sounds, which comes from her background as a horn player, electric guitarist and vocalist. Her way of thinking about music shares ideas from Stravinsky and Louis Andriessen. She has an ability to create effective interactions between classical and popular elements that sit between worlds of avant-garde, funk and experimental rock, between – in the words of one critic – Xenakis and Prince.

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Minutes created
Collection 3 #58

Minutes by Tansy Davies