Described by Gramophone magazine as working in the “more radical domain” of British music, David Gorton’s compositions are often characterized by microtonal tuning systems and performer virtuosity. Yet alongside apparently complex works his output includes compositions for amateur choirs and pieces in the ABRSM Spectrum series.
He first came to public attention in 2001 when he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Commissions followed for ensembles that include the London Sinfonietta, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Exposé, Jane's Minstrels, Chroma, Hermes, and the Kreutzer Quartet. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe and America, in China, and in Vietnam. Much of his output comprises series of works for solo performers with whom he has built a collaborative relationship over a period of years, including the violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, cellist Neil Heyde, oboist Christopher Redgate, pianists Zubin Kanga and Roderick Chadwick, and the guitarist Stefan Östersjö. He has released three portrait albums on the Métier and Toccata Classics labels, the most recent of which is framed as a set of variations on music by John Dowland and was featured on BBC Radio 3's Record Review programme.
David Gorton was a student at Durham University, King’s College London, and the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition with Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Bainbridge. From 2004-06 he held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship for a compositionally driven project about musical time, structure, and performance. He has been an associate researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, and a composer-in-residence at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Music since 2006, where he is an Associate Professor of the University of London.
All of the compositions on this website are conceived as research, in the sense that composition is an investigative and exploratory activity, as well as a responsive and pragmatic one. Whether or not the investigative processes of compositional activity are evident in the final outcomes, or whether these outcomes represent some kind of insight or knowledge, are topics for debate. But the articles and presentations listed below are all attempts to provide access to specific facets of a compositional process, and while they exist as research outcomes in their own right, they cannot exist without the artistic activity that underpins them.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Choose your own adventure music: on the emergence of voice in musical collaboration’, Contemporary Music Review,
Vol. 35, No. 6 (2016), 579-598.
Eric Clarke, Mark Doffman, David Gorton, and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Fluid Practices, Solid Roles? The evolution of Forlorn Hope’ in: Eric Clarke and Mark Doffman (eds.), Creativity, Improvisation and Collaboration: Perspectives on the Performance of Contemporary Music (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
David Gorton and Christopher Redgate, ‘Austerity Measures and Rich Rewards’ in: Kathleen Coessens (ed.), Experimental encounters in music and beyond (Leuven University Press, forthcoming).
David Gorton and Zubin Kanga, ‘Risky Business: negotiating virtuosity in the collaborative creation of Orfordness for solo piano’ in: Lauren Redhead and Vanessa Hawes (eds.), Music and/as Process (Cambridge Scholars, 2016), pp. 97-115.
Esther Coorevits, Dirk Moelants, Stefan Östersjö, and David Gorton, ‘Decomposing a Composition: On the Multi-layered Analysis of Expressive Music Performance’ in: Richard Kronland-Martinet, Mitsuko Aramaic, Sølvi Ystad (eds.), Music, Mind, and Embodiment: 11th International Symposium, CMMR 2015 (Springer International Publishing, 2016), pp.167-189.
David Gorton, Simon Shaw-Miller, and Neil Heyde, ‘Instrumental Choreography: Gesture and Performance in Gorton’s Capriccio for solo cello’, in Michèle Castellengo and Huhues Genevois (eds.), La musique et ses instruments (Delatour France, 2013), pp. 485-493.
Simon Shaw-Miller and David Gorton, ‘Performing Structure: Music, art, and space’, Proceedings of the fourth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (2008).
Presentation about compositional work, Contemporary Music Research Unit Composer Lecture Series, Goldsmiths, 10 November 2016.
‘Composing a performance: activating collaboration’, Institute of Musical Research, 25 April 2016.
Presentation about compositional work, Sibelius Academy, 11 April 2016.
‘Mind the Gap: composing a performance’, University of Surrey, 1 December 2015.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Composer/Performer explorations towards a gesture-based understanding of musical composition and performance’, Inventing Gestures study day, ManiFeste 2015 Festival, IRCAM, Paris, 8 June 2015.
Presentation about compositional work, University of Durham, 20 January 2015.
Composers’ Seminar, University of Oxford, 10 March 2014.
Symposium ‘Opening the Score: the place of notation in composer and performer collaboration’, University of Surrey, 5 July 2012.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, 'Towards a multimodal understanding of musical performance in David Gorton’s Austerity Measures I for ten-string guitar', Fourth Performance Studies Network International Conference, Bath Spa University, July 2016.
David Gorton, Christopher Redgate, and Amy Blier-Carruthers, 'Dying on stage: Holliger’s Cardiophonie', Performance, subjectivity and experimentation in artistic research, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, February 2016.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, 'Subjectivity in the workshop', Performance, subjectivity and experimentation in artistic research, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, February 2016.
David Gorton, Stefan Östersjö, Dirk Moelants, and Esther Coorevits, ‘Towards a multi-layered analysis of Subjectivity in musical performance’, presented at the Orpheus Research Festival 2015, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, October 2015.
David Gorton, Stefan Östersjö, Dirk Moelants, and Esther Coorevits, ‘Austerity in Performance: David Gorton’s Austerity Measures I for ten-string guitar’, presented at CARPA4 The fourth Colloquium on Artistic Research in Performing Arts, Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki, June 2015.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Austerity Measures I: improvisational strategies for managing cuts’, presented at the Perspectives on Musical Improvisation II Conference, Oxford University, September 2014.
David Gorton and Peter Sheppard Skaerved, ‘The Exchange Project: distributed creativity as artistic strategy’, presented at the Performance Studies Network Third International Conference, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, July 2014.
David Gorton and Christopher Redgate, ‘Creative Tensions/Intentions in Artistic Experimentation’, presented at the Tracking the Creative Process in Music Conference, University of Montreal and McGill University, October 2013.
David Gorton, ‘Recomposing Dowland: Forlorn Hope for eleven-string alto guitar and optional electronics’, presented at the John Dowland 450th Anniversary Conference, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, May 2013.
David Gorton and Christopher Redgate, ‘Exploring new sounds: composer–performer dialogues in the search for new sonorities’, presented at the Performance Studies Network Second International Conference, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, April 2013.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Forlorn Hope: Co-creativity and interpretative strategies towards open form’, presented at From the Known to the Unknown: Possible worlds for artistic experimentation in music - Fourth Annual Research Festival, Orpheus Research Centre in Music [ORCiM], Ghent, 3-5 October 2012.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Forlorn Hope: the distribution of creativity in a composer-performer collaboration (workshop demonstration)’, presented at The Reflective Conservatoire 3rd International Conference – Performing at the Heart of Knowledge, 17-20 March 2012.
David Gorton and Zubin Kanga, ‘Collaborating in Virtuosity: an agent for re-imagining the creative process’, presented at the Tracking the Creative Process in Music Conference, University of Lille-Nord de France, September 2011.
David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Forlorn Hope: tracing the dynamics of composer-performer collaboration’, presented at the Performance Studies Network International Conference, University of Cambridge, July 2011.
David Gorton, Simon Shaw-Miller, and Neil Heyde, ‘Instrumental Choreography: Gesture and performance in Gorton's Capriccio for solo cello’, Presented at the Fifth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM09), Paris, 26-29 October 2009.
Simon Shaw-Miller and David Gorton, ‘Performing Structure: Music, art, and space’, Presented at the Fourth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (CIM08), Thessaloniki, Greece, 3-6 July 2008.