Colin Riley

Colin Riley

‘Beautiful, clever and direct’ Classical Music Magazine
‘Tantalising new territory’  The Times 
‘Has the hairs rising on the back of your neck.’ Birmingham Post
‘Something extraordinarily strange and beautiful.’ BBC Radio 1
‘Riley is that rarest of birds, a genuine original.’ London Jazz Blog
‘There are many intelligent musicians whose work defies casual categorization. Riley is one such musician.’ Classical Source

Colin Riley's work draws on a range of elements including improvisation, new technologies, song-writing and large-scale classical form. His work is impossible to categorize, embodying a genuine integration of stylistic approaches. As an established, but ever-questioning figure within the contemporary music scene over the last 20 years he has cut an independent path through many layers of trends and styles. His music is played on both BBC Radio 3 and Radio 1, and recent premieres have included ‘Double Trio’ by pianocircus as London’s Kings Place, ‘Hanging In The Balance’ by Kate Halsall and Mary Dullea at Dartington, Totnes, and ‘Puzzle Pieces’ by harpsichordist Robyn Koh at London’s Handel House Museum.

His music is performed by a wide range of performers and ensembles and he also regularly creates work for his own two groups, the Homemade Orchestra and MooV, where he is composer and performer/director. Moov’s latest album ‘Here’ was released last year. It was described as ‘utterly unclassifiable’ (London Jazz Blog), ‘an album to lose yourself in time and time again’ (sea of Tranquility), and ‘criminally underexposed’ (Jazz UK). MooV will be performing at the Forge in September and at this year’s London Jazz festival in October at the Vortex.

Riley has collaborated with many diverse artists in the last few years including an album with Bill Bruford, ‘Skin and Wire’ in 2010, and two theatre projects ‘Nonsense’ and ‘Centrally Heated Knickers’ with the poet Michael Rosen and Saxophonist Tim Whitehead. The latter toured throughout the UK in 2013, funded by the Arts Council of England and the Wellcome Foundation. 

Riley is currently writing the worlds first ‘Double‘Cello Concerto’ to be premiered in 2016 by Gabriella Swallow and Guy Johnston with the Manchester Camerata. He is also writing an exploratory set of pieces for solo instruments with resonating environments, (collaborating with sonic artists and designers), for flautist Carla Rees, clarinetist Gareth Davis and harpist Hélène Breschand with seed-funding from the PRSF. As well as 20 short chamber pieces, ‘Lyric Pieces’, for the Nephele Ensemble, he is also composing a new work for pianist Matthew Schellhorn.

His new project ‘Assemblage’ charts new territory, bringing together a jazz pianist, DJ, drummer, bassist and turntabalist, colliding both sound-worlds and creative techniques. The outcomes are to be open-ended, but an album and some live performances are shaping up for later in 2015. Assemblage was begun as one of the prestigious Aldeburgh Music’s Creative Residencies at Snape Maltings.

A DVD of a new version of his chamber opera ‘Science Fictions’ commissioned by the St Magnus Festival has just been recorded. It features soprano Alison Wells on the ARC label.

Riley’s work embraces the tension of complex and simple approaches, as well as those between the avant-garde and popular music. In 2006 he set up his own label called Squeaky Kate, to record and promote both his own work and the work of others. He is also a committed advocate of the emerging and up and coming in the new music scene. As well as being Senior Lecturer at Brunel University, he has been a mentor for the Making Music’s Adopt A Composer Scheme for the last twelve years, and director of the network for creative musicians, Music Orbit. He also writes a regular blog about composing called Riley Notes.

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Colin Riley
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