Gary Carpenter

Photo of Gary Carpenter

Professor of Composition


Email: [email protected]

Gary Carpenter (born 1951, Hackney, London) was educated at Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow and studied composition initially with Dennis Carney and subsequently with Humphrey Searle, Thea Musgrave and (principally) John Lambert at the Royal College of Music (1969-72). He has lived in Holland and Germany and has written six operas (The Snow Queen Blewbury 1982, Le Grand Meaulnes Bracknell 1984, Mythologies Wakefield 1988 [all with Ian Barnett] and for Tête à Tête Opera: Doggone, Nyanyushka, Sparklepuff [all with Simon Nicholson), five musicals (including The Streets Of London with Ian Barnett, China Song with Simon Nicholson and Goodnight Mister Tom with Michelle Magorian) and a radio music drama – The One Alone – with Dame Iris Murdoch as well as animated and live action film scores, several ballets including Greyzone (Graz 2000, chor. Christina Comtesse), Kinderspelen (Nederlands Dans Theater 1978, chor. Jiri Kylian, – revived 2014/15 IntroDans, Arnhem) Interactions (NDT 2 1980 chor. Christopher Bruce) and a large amount of concert music including a Horn Concerto for Stephen Stirling and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Sonatinas (a concerto for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra) for Christian Forshaw and Ensemble 10:10, Liverpool.

He has been musical director and/or arranger-orchestrator on many films including The Wicker Man (1973) and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. His Van Assendelft’s Vermeer for clavichord won the British Clavichord Society Composition Competition (2004) and was shortlisted for a British Composer Award (2005), whilst his Azaleas for harp, violin and ‘cello received a Victor Salvi Award in Venice (2004) and won the British Composer Award (2006) in the chamber category. He has also won prizes in Monaco and Vienna and received bursaries and awards from the Arts Council and the Holst and Gulbenkian Foundations.

A portrait CD, Die Flimmerkiste, is released on NMC. His Songs Of Sadness And Piety for voices, saxophone, organ & percussion appears on Christian Forshaw’s CD Renouncement and his Marking Time for basset clarinet appears on Mark Simpson’s Prism CD, also for NMC. Pantomime for 13 winds (in a version woodwind orchestra) forms part of the Twisted Skyscapes CD project with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Winds conducted by Shea Lolin

Principal works include The Listening Project Symphony (Radio 4, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, [2012] – nominated for Prix Europa 2013), Fred and Ginger (LSO, Daniel Harding [2011]), Bassoon Concerto (Alan Pendlebury, RLPO, Vasily Petrenko [2011], Piano Trio [Fournier Trio, Wigmore Hall 2011, RPS Prize nomination 2012)] and Niederau (2011) which its commissioner, Tempest Flute Trio, have performed internationally over 30 times. His SET – Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra was premiered in Manchester with Iain Ballamy (sax), Martin France (kit) and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by HK Gruber [February 2014] – repeated in Strasbourg [July 2015] and Liverpool [May 2018]. In a new departure, Gary arranged and directed Satie In Blue, an evening long entertainment for big band first performed in Manchester (June 2014). Dadaville, a BBC commissioned orchestral work (after Max Ernst’s sculpture of the same name) received its premiere at the First Night Of The Proms 2015 (BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo). Last year (2016), The Food Of Love – a sequence of Shakespeare songs in four books for choirs and piano commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – celebrated the anniversaries of the Shakespeare’s birth (1564/2014) and death (1616/2016) whilst an Aldeburgh Music/14-18 NOW orchestral commission Willie Stock commemorating the two Battles of The Somme (1916 and 1918) received its premiere with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Oliver Knussen at the Aldeburgh Festival. He contributed orchestral material (BBCSO) to David Sedaris’s ‘Death Knows No Season’ broadcast (BBC Radios 3 and 4, December 2016) and is writing incidental music for Sedaris’s upcoming audiobook ‘Theft By Finding’.

Gary is a Professor at Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and teaches composition at the Royal Academy of Music where he was elected an Honorary Member (HonRAM) in 2015. He received a Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music (FRNCM) in December 2016, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a director of BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) where he chairs the Classical Executive Committee. He is a recipient of the 2017 PRS Composers’ Fund award for a portrait CD with the RLPO.

Personal Website

Current and Future Research

  • Orchestral work consolidation and penetration: Portrait CD (see Professional Activity)
  • Fischietto è Morto: exploring the relationship between trombone, clowns and Fellini’s cinema (I Clowns Finale). The Soprano Saxophone Sonata for John Harle further extends this by exploring circus themes.
  • Theft By Finding (Audible audiobook): Underpinning David Sedaris’s memoirs with incidental music, musical commentary and underscore with reference to American popular music trends from 1977-2002.


Research Funding

SET for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra performance + Orchestral works recording: funding to date from PRS Resonate (2016) and PRS Composers’ Fund (2017).

Undergraduate Teaching

UG one-to-one tuition

Postgraduate Teaching

  • PG one-to-one tuition
  • PG Composition seminars

Research Supervision

  • Amir Sadhegi – PhD:  Performance Art and Postdramatic Theatre: An exploration of performativity and the development of an experimental approach to music composition.
  • Dr Laura Bowler – PhD: Music of Cruelty: Exploring the application of Antonin Artaud’s ‘Theatre of Cruelty manifesto to musical composition and performance.  (Royal Academy of Music)
  • Dr Brian Mark – PhD: Preserving Historical Artifacts: Borrowing Materials for Contemporary Musical Landscapes (RAM)

Selected Outputs


  • Gary Carpenter Blue (unaccompanied flute), 2012, Holly Melia Solo Flute, 
  • Gary Carpenter Bassoon Concerto, 2011, Solo Bassoon/Orchestra, 
  • Gary Carpenter After Braque – for 20 players, 2007, Ensemble 10/10, Clark Rundell, Mixed Ensemble, NMC, Birkenhead, September 2006
  • Performances

  • Gary Carpenter Gary Carpenter Death Knows No Season – Front Row Centre Overture etc., Giancarlo Guerrero, David Sedaris Orchestra, 20th September 2016
  • Recordings

  • Gary Carpenter Food Of Love (The) Book 2, NYCoS National Girls’ Choir, Christopher Bell, SSA Piano, Signum, RSNO Centre, Glasgow, 8th to 10th May 2015
  • Gary Carpenter Marking Time, Mark Simpson, Ian Buckle Basset Clarinet and Piano, NMC, Liverpool Hope University, Capstone Building, 9-11 August 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Pantomime (Prague Version) for woodwind orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Winds, Shea Lolin, 2 oboes, 4 clarinets (4th dbl bass), 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 saxophones., Legni Classics, Prague, March 24-26th 2014
  • Gary Carpenter Die Flimmerkiste, Ensemble 10/10, Clark Rundell/Gary Carpenter, Pamela Nash Chamber – various, NMC, Birkenhead/London, 2006
  • Composition(All Details – Simplified)s

  • Gary Carpenter Marking Time (basset clarinet/piano) published by Cadenza Music, 2010, 2017
  • Gary Carpenter Willie Stock for large orchestra published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2016
  • Gary Carpenter Dadaville for orchestra published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2015
  • Gary Carpenter Closing Time for tenor and ensemble published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2015
  • Gary Carpenter Listening Project Symphony published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2015
  • Gary Carpenter SET – Concerto for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2015
  • Gary Carpenter Food of Love (The) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2014
  • Gary Carpenter Pantomime (2014) for woodwind orchestra (and for 13 winds 1995) published by Camden Music, England, 2014
  • Gary Carpenter The North (saxophone quartet) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2014
  • Gary Carpenter Two Hart Crane Songs published by Cadenza Music, 2013
  • Gary Carpenter Runcorn Bridge for Wind Orchestra published by Studio Music, England, 2013
  • Gary Carpenter Horn Concerto – Horn and Orchestra published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2011
  • Gary Carpenter Niederau (3 flutes) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2011
  • Gary Carpenter Piano Trio published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2011
  • Gary Carpenter Dioscuri (2 cellos) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Doubles (concerto for oboe, clarinet and wind band) published by Studio Music, England, 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Fred & Ginger for orchestra published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Go-Slow – (guitar quartet) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Sonatinas for alto sax and small orchestra or piano published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2010
  • Gary Carpenter Van Assendelft’s Vermeer (clavichord) published by Cadenza Music, Wales, 2008

Professional Activity

  • 2018: RSNO commission for 40th Anniversary of RSNO Youth Choir. Details to be arranged. SET performance: Iain Ballamy,  RLPO cond. Clark Rundell (May 3rd 2018 Liverpool) Portrait CD recording: RLPO/Ballamy/Rudge cond.:Rundell/Petrenko (poss).
  • 2017: Fischietto è Morto for trombone and strings. CD release June 2017. 1st perf. Matt Gee (commissioner) and RPO, Ryedale Festival July 2017 (tbc). Soprano Saxophone Sonata – Commissioned by John Harle – 1st perf Autumn 2017 (tba). Clarinet Quintet – commissioned by Linda Merrick – 1st Performance tba
  • 2016 Willie Stock for Orchestra. 1st perf. June 17th Snape. Aldeburgh Festival-NOW14/18 Commission, BBCSO conducted by Oliver Knussen. Death Knows No Season – Front Row Center Overture and Interludes. BBCSO, Barbican 20th December 2016, BBC Radio 3 (23rd Dec 2016). BBC Radio 4 (31st December 2016)
  • 2015 The Food Of Love Books 2 & 4 for choirs and piano (SSA [Edinburgh 2015)], SSAATTBB [Derry October 2015]. Dadaville for Orchestra. 1st Perf July 17th 2015. Royal Albert Hall, London – First Night Of The Proms. BBCSO conducted by Sakari Oramo. SET – Concerto for Tenor Sax and Orchestra – French Premiere, July 2015, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Baldur Brönnimann
  • 2014 SET – Concerto for Tenor Sax and Orchestra: 1st perf. February 2014. Iain Ballamy, BBCPO, HK Gruber (cond). The Food Of Love – four choral song books commissioned by Shakespeare Birthplace Trust commemorating 450th anniversary of WS’s birth (1564) and 400th of his death (1616), 1st perf. of Book 1, Stratford-upon-Avon, April 2014. The North for saxophone quartet. Borealis Quartet commission. 1st perf. St John’s Smith Square, February 27th 2014.
  • GSMD External Examiner: MMus Composition/Opera Makers.
  • Composition Professor: Royal Academy of Music,