Ned Bigham is an eclectic composer whose career encompasses orchestral, chamber, choral and electronica.
Ned’s latest album Staffa, released on 8 September 2017, is the much anticipated collection of new orchestral works performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conducted by Jean-Claude Picard. Building on the success of his first album of orchestral works Culebra, which reached no. 11 in the Specialist Classical Charts in 2014, Staffa solidifies Bigham’s reputation as an artist whose tuneful music is accessible to a wide audience whilst having real compositional depth.
‘…his natural melodic writing immediately communicates and frequently moves the listener.’
Gramophone, Ivan March
The title piece, for orchestra and three large screens, was created in collaboration with BAFTA and Grierson award-winning visual artist Gerry Fox, and was premiered by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, at the 70th Anniversary Celebration Concert of the Edinburgh International Festival on 27 August and broadcast afterwards on BBC Radio 3. Supported by Creative Scotland, Staffa also ran as a three-screen installation, with quadraphonic recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, at the National Library of Scotland from 17-27 August, and drew crowds in excess of five thousand over the period. It has appeared in interviews/features on Radio 3, Radio Scotland and Scottish TV among others.
Scored for full symphony orchestra, celeste and two harps, Staffa dramatically evokes the fleeting moods of the Inner Hebridean island’s elemental location, with the marriage between sound and image unique and magical. Gerry Fox’s visuals pay homage to Mendelssohn's famous 1829 visit to its haunting Fingal's Cave by exploring the unique hexagonal, basalt column formations of the interior and its surroundings. Whilst inspired by Mendelssohn’s journey, Ned’s music is new and ground-breaking.
“Congratulations on a great piece of work”
Jamie MacDougall, Classics Unwrapped, BBC Radio Scotland
The other works on the album complement Staffa and demonstrate Bigham’s playful way with existing forms. The two sets of Archipelago Dances whisk the listener off to Bigham’s imagined islands in these vivid orchestral tone poems. 'Halmahera' is scored for two pianos and orchestra, with the canonic piano parts delightfully performed by Lynda Cochrane and Judith Keaney. The irresistible 'Tegua' takes the polka form as its starting point. The Two Nightscapes are mysterious and haunting, with the glorious harp writing in 'Serenade' performed by Pippa Tunnell.
His previous orchestral/chamber CD Culebra was described by Gramophone magazine as 'meltingly lovely'. It included The Nairne Ballads, a commission for the Scottish Ensemble, which has received performances across Scotland and England, together with contributions from the RSNO and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Recent commissions include a choral setting of Shakespeare’s 'Sonnet VIII' for the massed choirs of Chichester, Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals at the Southern Cathedrals’ Festival. Also Heaven Shall Call Her from this Cloud of Darkness for the Brodsky Quartet at the Petworth Festival (Champs Hill and St Mary's).
In addition to performances of concert music at classical festivals across the UK, his surround sound/multi-screen collaborations with Gerry Fox have been staged at international art shows including the Venice Biennale. Favela Descending, at the Shoreditch Concrete and Glass Festival, was described by Channel 4 as 'haunting, beautiful and mind-blowing'. Ned’s sonic installation Octarama, for two sopranos, flute, clarinet and MPC2000 through eight loudspeakers in a circle, was installed at the ICA and won the John Halford Composition Prize.
Ned studied at Balliol College, Oxford and under Daryl Runswick, John Ashton Thomas, Geoffrey Hanson and Mike Garrick at Trinity College of Music, London. He worked as a session player to begin with, drumming for Neneh Cherry, after which he co-founded the seminal Acid Jazz band D-Influence. Sampling classical recordings and then reversing, pitch-shifting, combining and splitting the results became a hallmark of his electronic experimentation project 'Anti Atlas'. The album 'Between Voices', with Radiohead producer Chris Hufford, featured Gemma Hayes and was a Sunday Times CD Choice. He co-wrote and co-produced Asian artist Amar’s album 'Outside', with Sade/Everything But The Girl producer Robin Millar CBE, drawing from classical Indian ragas and receiving acclaim across the British and Asian press.
He has written and produced songs for artists including folk singer Cara Dillon, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis, and his collaborations with Miami DJ Robbie Rivera have twice reached the top of the American Club Charts.