Michael Zev Gordon Composer

Born in London, Michael Zev Gordon is a composer of highly crafted pieces with a strong lyrical charge. Influences from his wide range of teachers – Holloway, Knussen, Donatoni, Andriessen and Woolrich – have coalesced into a subtle, individual voice, characterized by richly varied musical colours – the tonal and atonal happily rub shoulders in his work – always at the service of larger, expressive goals. Memory has been a recurring subject in his work.

Gordon’s music has been performed by many leading ensembles, including commissions for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia and Chroma. Soloists include Carolin Widmann, Huw Watkins, Nicholas Daniel, Toby Spence, Richard Watkins and Alina Ibragimova. He also enjoys writing for choir – involving among others the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, New London Chamber Choir and the BBC Singers – and has twice won the choral category of the British Composer Awards. The second of these was for Allele for 40 voices, a work written on the subject of genes, in collaboration with the poet Ruth Padel and scientists from King’s College London. Other awards include a Prix Italia for his radiophonic work A Pebble in the Pond, while On Memory, an NMC portrait disc of piano music, was in The Times top 10 contemporary CDs of 2009.

Though mostly composing for professionals, Gordon is also strongly committed to working with students, amateur and younger players. He led composition teaching on the Contemporary Music for Amateurs (CoMA) summer school in 2008; Joshi’s Dance was included in the Associated Board’s grade 3 violin syllabus of 2012-15; while he has long taught composition in higher education – at the universities of Southampton and Durham, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Birmingham, where he is now Professor of Composition.

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Michael Zev Gordon Composer piccy

“Gordon is one of those composers who is able to turn personal experience into universal truths.”

(Mandelstam Settings) MusicWeb International 2019/11/19 Public

“entirely convincing in moving through states of nostalgia, anxiety, exuberance and total stillness towards a kind of serene acceptance of the present moment”

The Guardian 2019/11/19 Public

“…a luscious and fastidious voice”

(by the edge of the forest of desires) Birmingham Post 2019/11/19 Public

“Both fresh and deeply affecting with a quiet passion and restrained drama. A poised and balanced work of considerable sophistication”

(This Night) British Composer Awards Jury, Dec 2008 2019/11/19 Public

“Gordon’s twin preoccupations with the nature of memory and the value of musical modernism…gained striking expression in his radiophonic essay A Pebble in the Pond, and again in the 41-minute title work of this disc collecting his piano pieces…All fascinatingly wrought.”

(On Memory NMC D144) Sunday Times 2019/11/19 Public

“…the urgent opening of Gordon’s The Gleam of Hidden Skies was an indication of an almost fevered inspiration immediately set in train”

The Guardian 2019/11/19 Public

“A fascinating play of textures with moments of fit-to-burst tension, pulsating with heat, that eventually led to a delicate, fragile ending.”

(Sehnsucht) New York Times 2019/11/19 Public

“Gordon’s music deals in abstracts – new and old, familiar and unfamiliar, simple and complex – but with an unusual directness and clarity of expression.”

Arts Desk 2019/11/19