Craig Vear

Craig Vear

"Vear shines in the extended format like a good short story writer who suddenly discovers he's a great novelist" (acloserlisten.com)

"Three Last Letters' is both a complex and an immensely moving work that combines something rare in contemporary music: a blend of intellectual rigour and a powerful emotional directness that goes straight to the heart." (Gavin Bryars)

Craig Vear (1970) is a composer and musician working predominantly in contemporary, experimental, improvised and electroacoustic music for the concert hall, multi-media installation and stage. He studied composition under Gavin Bryars, Dave Smith and Joe Duddell. His compositions have been described as 'pioneering', and 'hugely exciting' (John Metcalf MBE, artistic director Vale of Glamorgan Festival), with 'abstract spirituality' (allaboutjazz.com).

Vear generally works with found materials, making compositions using computers that allow the individual sounds to be free, taking the careful listener on a journey along channels of memory and imagination, expressing the continuity and fluidity of thought. His open works are inspired by John Cage, Gavin Bryars, Morton Feldman and Christophe Charles and use computers that generate live software scores to determine the outcome of the composition through performance. Musicians describe this co-operative approach as '90% poetry' (Audrey Riley, M.D. Icebreaker Ensemble), 'extremely liberating' (Christopher O'Gorman, tenor), and 'taking on a heightened significance' (James Woodrow, guitarist); and his integrated soundscapes described as 'Multi-layered and keeping the interest in the listening throughout' (Francisco Lopez, composer and sound artist).

Recordings of his compositions have been released on several international labels such as Mille Platueax (Germany), Earth Ear (US) , 3 Leaves (Hungary), Gruenrekorder (Germany), Palm Pictures (UK), Universal (UK) and, as producer for David Lumsdaine's The Big Meeting, NMC records (UK). His forthcoming release, Sketches from a Black Cat will be released on AR Records (UK) in 2016.

In 2015 Vear was commissioned by Icebreaker Ensemble to create False Start, inspired by the painting of the same name by Jasper Johns. This was premiered at the Audiograft festival in the same year. In 2014, he was commissioned by Audrey Riley to create Black Cats and Blues a 50' Hyper-media concerto for solo cello and digital technology, interweaving short stories of Boris Vian with media projection and interactive soundscapes. In the same year, Quicksilver was commissioned by Kyma International Sound Symposium and premiered in Lubeck, Germany, in response to Thomas Mann's Doktor Fautus. In 2012, Vear was commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan festival to create Three Last Letters a 'play for musicians' that imagines the final moments in the minds of Cpt. Scott, Dr. Wilson and Lt. Bowers, and created to commemorate the centenary of their death in Antarctica.

In 2010, he was commissioned by the Laurence Sterne Trust, York Theatre Royal and Arts Council England to compose a Digital Opera based on Laurence Sterne's book A Sentimental Journey (1768). In the same year, he was commissioned by Exhibition Road Cultural Group and PRS Foundation to create Flow in celebration of World Music Day and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Ismaili Centre, London.

Superfield [Mumbai] (2009), commissioned by Bradford Mela and Mumbai Festival, incorporated found sounds and music from the streets of Mumbai weeks after the terrorist attacks of 2008. During 2003-4, he held the Arts Council England Fellowship with the British Antarctic Survey, which resulted in the large-scale composition Antarctica, and 5 Antarctic Solitudes created from his Polar field recordings. In 1997, he co-founded the pop group Cousteau, which made 300,000 sales worldwide and gained a gold disc.

He co-founded the duo ev2 with Jonathan Eato in 1992 (www.ev2.co.uk), who explore the musical spaces between jazz, free improvisation, contemporary composition, electro-acoustic composition and multi-media performance environments. In 2005 they received a commission from the Falkland Islands to produce a 20 minute piece for ev2, computer technologies, a mixed ensemble of student musicians.

He has composed music for many theatre productions including York Theatre Royal, Unicorn Theatre London, David Glass Company, Leicester Haymarket and Theatre Rites. In 2006, Unicorn Theatre commissioned Play: Antarctica, a 70-minute play developing his 'Sound Theatre' work. In 2011 Vear was part of the creative team that won the Olivier Award for Best Production for The Railway Children he was also nominated for an Olivier award and a Canadian DORA award for best sound design.

He has worked closely with dance companies for several decades. In 2012, he was commissioned by English National Ballet and Seven Sisters Group to create Like A Fish Out of Water for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. He collaborated with the visual artist Sophia Clist on 'Stretch' a site-specific project bringing together sculpture, dance, music and physical theatre, creating a dynamic artwork that explores questions of real-time interaction and the nature of interdisciplinary performance through improvisation.

He has created sound installation and sound art for the Royal Festival Hall, British Library, Bloomsbury Festival, Chicago Humanities Festival. 'Singing Ringing Buoy', an installation at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, was shortlisted for the £50,000 PRS New Music Award 2005. During 2007-8, he held a Leverhulme Fellowship as artist in residence with the University of Hull. He is currently Reader (associate professor) of music and performing arts at De Montfort University, UK.

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Craig Vear
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