Richard Whalley was born in 1974, and studied composition with Roger Marsh and Nicola Lefanu at University of York as an undergraduate, and with Mario Davidovsky and Joshua Fineberg at Harvard University for his PhD. In 2004 he was appointed as a lecturer in composition at the University of Manchester, where he was the founder of the university’s new music ensemble, Vaganza. He also teaches composition and performs chamber music at the ARAM-Poitou Summer School in France each August.
He was a finalist in the 1992 BBC Young Musician of the Year Composers’ Award and the 2001 Gaudeamus International Composers Award with Elegy (for chamber ensemble), and a featured composer in Ensemble Aleph’s Second Forum for Composers in 2002/3, for whom he wrote Twisted Variations. In 2009 Five Preludes was the winning composition in the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2009. In 2012, Interlocking Melodies for string quartet was selected for performance in the ISCM World Music Days in Flanders. In 2013 he was one of six composers to write a new work (Three Roses) for the London Symphony Orchestra as part of the Panufnik Young Composer Scheme 2013. In 2015 he was selected as one of the finalists in the Feeding Music International Composition Competition, for whom he wrote Wonderland.
His music has been performed at home and abroad by numerous outstanding soloists and ensembles. Soloists who have performed his music include Richard Casey, Caroline Balding, Oliver Coates, Marc Danel, Paul Carey Jones, John Turner and Gavin Osborn. Ensembles include the Hilliard Ensemble, Psappha, the Quatuor Danel, Dinosaur Annex, Trio Atem, Ensemble 10:10, the Ebonit Saxophone Quartet and the London Symphony Orchestra. A number of his works are commercially recorded, including a solo CD his music, ‘A Feast for the Senses’, released in 2012.
Also a dedicated pianist, his repertoire extends from Bach and Beethoven to Nancarrow and Ligeti. He has premiered a number of his own works for piano, as well a number of works including Camden Reeves’s Diablo Canyon, Kevin Malone’s M’Bongo and Peter Swinnen’s Edokaste. Richard’s music is published by Composers Edition.
Early on in Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, one of the key characters marvels at how the memory of his computer (‘A totally spiritual machine’) can be used as he wishes, so much better than human memory, which ‘at the cost of much effort, learns to remember but not to forget.’
We live in the present, yet this present is always coloured by memories of the past, by selective perception of external circumstances, and by fears and desires for the future. Memories themselves are fickle: often we misremember, or at very least remember selectively, forgetting important details and obsessing over trivialities. Sometimes an unexpected memory of something half-forgotten may emerge for whatever reason. All of this makes ‘living in the moment’ such a rich and multi-dimensional experience; it is the resulting poignancy of existence that I have attempted to capture in this piece. – Richard Whalley
Commissioned by Gavin Osborn Misplaced Time Refound was premiered on 25 February 2016, performed by Gavin Osborn at Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, University of Manchester.