James Erber

James Erber

British composer James Erber was born in 1951 in London of an Austrian father and an English mother. He studied Music at the Universities of Sussex (BA, 1973) and Nottingham (MA, 1975). While a student at the University of Sussex, he took flute lessons with Gareth Morris and conducted performances of his own realisation of Giulio Caccini's opera L'Euridice (1600).

In 1976, he began work both as Music Editor for Peters Edition Ltd., London and as freelance editor, writer and translator. Still largely self-taught as a composer, it was at this period he produced his first acknowledged works, beginning with Seguente for oboe and piano (1976, revised 1980). The guidance and encouragement he received from Brian Ferneyhough prompted him to a serious study of composition, firstly with Jonathan Harvey at the University of Sussex (MPhil in Composition, 1983), then from 1981 to 1982 with Ferneyhough himself at the Musikhochschule, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, for which he received financial support from The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the RVW Trust and the Rivendell Trust.

Since returning to England, he has combined composition with teaching and lecturing, including three years in the Music Department at Goldsmith's College, University of London from 1991 to 1994. He has written articles and lectured widely on his own work. He was invited as guest lecturer to the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 1988 and 1990, having won a Stipendienpreis there in 1986. In 1994 and 1996 he was shortlisted for the Hinrichsen Foundation bursary and in 1994 received a Holst Foundation Award, enabling him to write Abiya for solo piano. In January 2015 he was composer-in-residence at the soundON festival of Modern Music, San Diego CA.

James Erber's work reflects a wide range of interests, including Renaissance and Baroque music, the music of South-East Asia, Jazz, blues, Mediaeval and Renaissance philosophy, Kabbalah, green politics, recent scientific developments, film noir, Jacobean tragedy, the Gothic novel and historical slang. His music is technically demanding for the player, being multi-layered and complex (especially from the point of view of rhythm and form). Its complexity is, however, combined with harmonic clarity and lyricism as well as a tenuous sense of optimism and a concern with intellectual and spiritual continuity diametrically opposed to much of present-day musical culture.

It has been performed and broadcast widely throughout Europe, in Australia, New Zealand and the USA by soloists such as Mario Caroli, Matteo Cesari, Carin Levine, Nancy Ruffer, Christopher Redgate, Carl Rosman, Gleb Kanasevich, Darragh Morgan, Frank Cox, Diego Castro Magas, Ian Pace and Jonathan Powell, as well as by ensembles including Lontano, Exposé, 175 East, the Arditti Quartet, NOISE and ELISION. Matteo Cesari's critically-acclaimed recording of The 'Traces' Cycle and three other shorter works for solo flute is available on Convivium Records. Other works will be found on NMC, Metier and Centaur Records (USA).

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James Erber
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