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Venables, Philip

Denis & Katya (2019)
Opera with libretto by Ted Huffman
Bar.Ms -
Duration: ca. 70'
WP: 18.09.2019, Philadelphia

Venables plays Bartók 
for violin, orchestra and tape
vl - - - 4timp.perc - pf.tape - str
Duration: 30'
WP: 17.08.2018, London

The Gender Agenda
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 Psychose (
German version
an opera in one act
Text by Sarah Kane, translated by Durs Grünbein
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: 26.04.2019, Dresden

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. He is described as “one of the finest composers around” (Guardian) and his work as “brutally effective” (Times), “original and intelligent in both form and content… reminiscent of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle” (Exeunt Magazine) and “brilliant, extreme work that grips like a vice and won’t let go” (Guardian).

He collaborates extensively in cross-media work, including with artist Douglas Gordon on Bound to Hurt (HAU Theater Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg, Theater Basel), with drag/performance artist David Hoyle on Illusions (London Sinfonietta, UK New Music Biennial), The Gender Agenda (London Sinfonietta) and sound installation Canal Street (Manchester International Festival/Manchester Camerata) and with violinist Pekka Kuusisto on Venables plays Bartók (BBC Proms/BBC Symphony Orchestra). His debut album Below the Belt was released on NMC in 2018: “unmissable... music of forensic clarity and visceral force – but also great tenderness and generosity” (BBC Music Magazine).

Philip made his Royal Opera debut in 2016 with 4.48 Psychosis, based on the text by Sarah Kane, and the first ever permitted adaptation of her work. The opera (dir. Ted Huffman) was critically acclaimed at its premiere and again at its 2018 revival: “extraordinarily accomplished and imaginative writing” (The Stage); “a score ranging guilelessly from motoric arrhythmia to wispy renaissance” (The Independent); “A new brand of opera” (The Times) “4.48 Psychosis opera is rawly powerful and laceratingly honest” (The Telegraph); “he ambushes and refreshes an old art form.” (The 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.” (The Spectator).  The opera won the 2016 UK Theatre Award for Opera, the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-scale Composition and the 2017 British Composer Award for Stage Work, and was nominated for an Olivier Award and Sky Arts South Bank Award.  

Philip was a MacDowell Fellow with director Ted Huffman in 2017, Doctoral Composer in Residence with the Royal Opera House and Guildhall School of Music & Drama 2013–16 and a Soundhub resident at LSO St Luke's 2013.  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. He completed his doctorate at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Julian Philips and James Weeks. He is a director of the agency Bright Ivy Ltd.  

Photo: Harald Hoffmann