Adam Gorb

Adam Gorb was born in 1958 and started composing at the age of ten. At fifteen he wrote a set of piano pieces – A Pianist’s Alphabet – of which a selection was performed by Susan Bradshaw on BBC Radio 3. In 1977 he went to Cambridge University to study music, where his teachers included Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway. After graduating in 1980 he divided his time between composition and working as a musician in the theatre. In 1987 he started studying privately with Paul Patterson, and then, from 1991 at the Royal, Academy of Music where he gained an MMus degree and graduated with the highest honours, including the Principal’s Prize in 1993.

His works have been performed, broadcast and recorded worldwide. Notable pieces include Metropolis for Wind Band (1992), which has won several prizes including the Walter Beeler Memorial Prize in the USA in 1994. Prelude, Interlude and Postlude for piano, won the Purcell Composition Prize in 1995. Kol Simcha, a ballet given over fifty performances by the Rambert Dance Company and Awayday (1996) for Wind Band which, along with Yiddish Dances, (1998) also for Wind Band have had thousands of performances world-wide, and many commercial recordings. Yiddish Dances also exists in arrangements for piano duet and guitar quartet. A Violin Sonata was premiered at the Spitalfields Festival in London in 1996. Reconciliation for Clarinet and Piano was commissioned for the Park Lane Young Artists New Year series in 1998, and Elements, a Percussion Concerto written for Evelyn Glennie and the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Ensemble in 1998 was released on CD in 2001.

In 1999 his Clarinet Concerto for Nicholas Cox was premiered with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2000 A Distant Mirror for Brass Band at the Cheltenham festival, Weimar for chamber ensemble, 2000 and Downtown Diversions, a trombone concerto, in Texas in February 2001. Other works include String quartet no. 1 for the Maggini Quartet, which was premiered at Bromsgrove music club in February 2002, and Towards Nirvana, which received its first performance by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Ensemble in October 2002, winning a British Composer award in the Wind and Brass ensemble category in 2004. Diaspora for eleven strings was given its premiere by the Goldberg Ensemble in February 2003, and November 2003 saw the first performance of Dances From Crete at the Royal College of Music in London.

Adam Gorb

2004 saw the premieres of French Dances Revisited in Minnesota, USA, and La Cloche Felee for soprano and piano in the Purcell Room. Burlesque for clarinet ensemble, was first played in the USA in 2005. 2006 was notable for the first performance of Awakening for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Adrenaline City for the USA Air Force Academy Band. This work went on to win another British Composer Award in 2008.  Fasolt’s Revenge for the Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble and A Better Place for the Zephyr Ensemble of Great Britain were also premiered in 2006.

In 2007/8 a cantata Thoughts Scribbled on a Blank wall (based on the experiences of the political prisoner John McCarthy who co-wrote the libretto with Ben Kaye) received several performances in prestigious venues including Canterbury Cathedral and Kings College Cambridge. Two more Wind Band works: Midnight in Buenos Aires and Farewell (winner of a third British Composer Award in 2009) have seen the light of day along with Serenade for Spring (2008) for small orchestra which had its premiere at the Hampstead and Highgate Festival. Later that year Into The Light for eight cellos was premiered at the RNCM, and String Quartet no. 2 was played by the Tippett Quartet.

2010 saw the premieres of Absinthe for piano and Eternal Voices; a large-scale choral work with words by Ben Kaye which was premiered at Exeter cathedral in November 2010 with the Exeter Festival Chorus and the Band of the Royal Marines. Another Wind Ensemble work: Repercussions was premiered in Colorado in August 2011. Love Transforming which was written for Timothy Reynish’s 75th birthday in March 2013.

He has collaborated for a third time with Ben Kaye on an opera Anya 17 which was premiered by singers from the RNCM with the RLPO 10/10 ensemble Liverpool and Manchester in March 2012. – there have subsequently been productions in Germany in and the USA.

Works from 2013-15 include a cello concerto, A Celebration for the Northern Chamber Orchestra and Velocity for the pianist Clare Hammond. Recent wind ensemble works, all USA commissions include Spring into Action (2014), Boat Trip (2016) and Pike’s Peak (2017).  In 2016 In Solitude, For Company, an extensive revision of Awakening was played by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and Melange a Trois was premiered by the Pleyel ensemble. Adam Gorb spent much of 2017 writing a second opera The Path to Heaven (libretto by Ben Kaye) which received its premiere in Leeds and Manchester in 2018, with productions in the USA in 2019 and 2020.  A Saxophone Quartet Let Them Play was also performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb in 2018.

A CD of piano music: 24 Preludes (composed 2019 – 20) and Velocity with the pianist Clare Hammond was released on Toccata classics in 2022.

Recent works include a song cycle: Beggars Belief, his fifth collaboration with librettist Ben Kaye, Long Distance Call for the Australian saxophonist Katia Beaugeais and a concerto for violin, viola and Wind Ensemble premiered in the USA in 2022. During the Covid pandemic in 2020-21 he adapted several of his wind band works, including Yiddish Dances and Bohemian Revelry for smaller ensembles.

Professor Adam Gorb is Head of School of Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He has a PhD in Composition from the University of Birmingham and has taught at universities in the USA, Canada, Japan and many European countries.