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Venables, Philip

The Gender Agenda (2017)
For Gameshow Host, Choir, Ensemble:; Audience
Duration: 45'
WP: 12.04.2018, London

Illusions (2017)
Text: David Hoyle
for Nine Amplified Players and Video
Duration: 14'
WP: 02.07.2017, Funktion Nightclub; part of the Hull City of Culture 2017

4.48 Psychosis 
an opera in one act
Text: Sarah Kane
3 soprano, 3 mezzo-soprano / tape / alto flute + picc, 3 sax (all sop+bar), piano+synth with organ pedalboard, accordion, 2 percussion (solo roles, some playing from memory), vl+vla, 2 vla, bass.  (all amplified)
Duration: 90'
WP: 24.05.2016, Lyric Theatre, London  

The Revenge of Miguel Cotto (2012)
Text: Steven J Fowler
for two male vocalists and nine players
3tbn – acc.2perc – 3vln
Duration: 15’
WP: 16.05.2012, Village Underground, London

numbers 76–80: tristan und isolde (2011)
Text: Simon Howard
Four voices (SATB) and string quartet
Duration: 14’
WP: 19.09.2011, Southbank Centre, London

numbers 91–95 (2011)
Text: Simon Howard
Duration: 9’
For speaker and two tape recorders, harp, flute, and woodblock
WP: 10.11.2011, Wien Modern, Vienna

Piano Studies (2006-2011)
Duration: 17’
WP: 08.01.2007, Southbank Centre, London

Klaviertrio im Geiste (2011)
Vl, vc, pf
Duration: 11’
WP: 08.06.2011, The Forge, London

Flipp (2011)
Any two saxophones of the same kind
Duration: 3’
WP: 24.05.2011, Unerhörte Musik, BKA Theater, Berlin



Philip Venables’ music is often concerned with violence, politics and speech within concert music and opera. His work has been recently described as “brutally effective” (Times), “brutally exhilarating” (Seen & Heard), “duly playful and occasionally disturbing” (Guardian), “a dark and violent portrait of sexual desire” ( and “original and intelligent in both form and content… reminiscent of MaIhew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle; dripping in inexplicable meaning” (Exeunt Magazine). And most recently, from The Guardian: “Venables’s Illusions, a collaboration with performance artist David Hoyle, baIers at the limits of form, emotion and sexuality in a ferocious assertion of LGBT individualism in the face of establishment nihilism and uncertainty – a brilliant, extreme work that grips like a vice and won’t let go.”

Philip’s music has been performed and broadcast internationally. Performers and commissioners include The Royal Opera, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore hall, London Contemporary Opera, (The Schmürz, with writer Michael Brett), the London Sinfonietta (The Revenge of Miguel Cotto with poet Steven Fowler; Illusions with performance artist David Hoyle), Endymion & EXAUDI (numbers 76-80: tristan und isolde), Ensemble 10-10 (ANIMA), Black Dyke Brass Band, Rambert Dance, HAU Theater Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg and Theater Basel.

In 2016 Philip made his Royal Opera debut with 4.48 Psychosis (dir. Ted Huffman), the first ever permitted adaptation of any of Sarah Kane’s work. 4.48 Psychosis won the UK Theatre Award 2016 for Achievement in Opera. It was universally acclaimed: “Venables proves he’s one of the finest composers around” (Guardian); “He challenges the conventions of opera. Via an array of resources he ambushes and refreshes an old art form.” (Observer); “Experimentation in the service of absolute emotional precision: Venables’ economical work is one of the most exhilarating operas in years, even while it gives voice to some of the darkest thoughts imaginable.” (Spectator).

Other recent projects include Bound to Hurt, a collaboration with Turner prize-winner Douglas Gordon. Forthcoming projects include a violin concerto, a new version of Illusions for the New Music Biennial 2017, development of a verbatim opera project based on victims’ accounts of rape with Size Zero Opera and a revival of Unleashed. In 2017 Philip will take a residency at MacDowell colony in New Hampshire. His debut disc of chamber music will be released by NMC in 2018.

Philip Venables was born in Chester in 1979 and lives between London and Berlin. He studied at Cambridge University and then with Philip Cashian and David Sawer at the Royal Academy of Music, which elected him Associate (ARAM) in 2016 for his significant contribution to composition. Philip was awarded an AHRC grant for Ph.D research into speech, violence and music at the Royal Academy of Music from 2012-13, and was a Soundhub Associate with the LSO at St Luke’s in the same season. From 2013–2016 he was Doctoral Composer in Residence with the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, studying with Julian Philips and James Weeks. He is a director of the agency Bright Ivy Ltd.

Photo: Harald Hoffmann