Naresh Sohal

Naresh Sohal

A unique voice in contemporary classical music.

Born in Punjab in 1939, and a long-time resident of the UK, Sohal’s work spans two cultures eloquently and with flair. As a British composer, he wrote fluently in the Western idiom: as an Asian composer, he drew heavily on the insights of Indian philosophy. His work combines passion with technical brilliance to further his main purpose, which is the elevation of the human spirit.

Naresh arrived in the UK in 1962. He was inspired to become a composer of Western classical music when he heard a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ symphony on All India Radio. He was largely self-taught. He was employed as a copyist for some years by the music publishers, Boosey & Hawkes. There, he copied works ranging from Bach to Britten, and assimilated all he could from this experience. For a while, he was a student of the composer, Jeremy Dale Roberts. He was the first person ever to be awarded a bursary for composition by the Arts Council of Great Britain.

Naresh’s music has been performed worldwide by orchestras that have included the BBC Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic and the Berlin Staatskapelle orchestras. Conductors of his work have included Sir Andrew Davis and Zubin Mehta.

During his lifetime, Naresh produced over sixty works ranging from large-scale orchestral works to innovative chamber music; from cutting-edge avant-garde pieces to works that reimagined the folk traditions of Punjab. He had eight commissions from the BBC, two of which were for large-scale works for the Proms. In 1987 he was awarded a Padma Shri by the Indian government for his services to Western music.

Naresh died in April 2018.

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