Described by Gramophone magazine as working in the “more radical domain” of British music, David Gorton’s works are often characterized by microtonal tuning systems and performer virtuosity.

A winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, David Gorton’s large-scale works include The Fall of Babel for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oblique Prayers for Claire Booth and the London Sinfonietta, and Schmetterlingsspiel for Christopher Redgate and Ensemble Exposé. Alongside apparently complex works his output includes compositions for amateur choirs and pieces in the ABRSM Spectrum series.

Since 2010 three portrait albums have been released of his music on the Métier and Toccata Classics labels. Trajectories (Métier, 2010) emerged from a series of residencies at the Tate Gallery in St Ives, and includes String Quartet: Trajectories, commissioned for the Kreutzer Quartet to be performed in the sea-facing gallery space.

Orfordness (Métier, 2014) comprises compositions that explore ideas of landscape and memory. The disc takes its name from a solo piano piece written for Zubin Kanga that draws on programmatic references to the abandoned military base on Orford Ness, including the testing of secret hardware and a UFO encounter. This preoccupation with East Anglian landscapes is continued in more recent works, including a collaboration with photographer Claire Shovelton resulting in Burgh Castle, written for CHROMA and pianist Roderick Chadwick at the Huddersfield Festival.

Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classics, 2017) represents another compositional preoccupation, that of pre-baroque English music. The disc contains two substantial pieces based on original material by John Dowland: Lachrymae Variations for the string orchestra Longbow and violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, and Forlorn Hope for guitarist Stefan Östersjö. These are set alongside arrangements of Byrd and Morley’s own variations on Dowland.

David Gorton was a student at Durham University, King’s College London, and the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition with Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Bainbridge. His music is published by Verlag Neue Musik, Berlin.

David Gorton was appointed University of London Associate Professor of Music in February 2016.

Research Statement

As a researcher David is interested in exploring new instrumental techniques, alternative tuning systems, performer virtuosity, and developing diverse models of collaborative practice. In 2004–06 he held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship for a compositionally-driven project about musical time, structure, and performance. He has presented his work at conferences and universities in Europe, America, and Canada, and was on the programme committee of the Performance Studies Network International Conferences in 2016 and 2018. He is an associate researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent.

Caleuche Chasma for two cellos (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2019)

Neil Heyde and Rohan de Saram, Holywell Music Room, Oxford, 20 February 2020

Lord Herbert’s Pavan for guitar (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2019)

Bradley Johnson, Royal Academy of Music, London, 6 February 2020

Charon for two guitars (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2019)

Stefan Östersjö and Jessica Kaiser, Tinnenpot Theatre, Ghent, 29 November 2019

Farnabye’s Maske for piano (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2019)

Zubin Kanga, St John’s Smith Square, 23 June 2017

Cerro Rico for soprano violin and charango (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Mieko Kanno (violin) and Stefan Östersjö (guitar), Tinnenpot Theatre, Ghent, 29 November 2019

Concerto per flauto a becco e violino su temi Torelli for solo recorder, violin, and strings (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Longbow, Olwen Foulkes (recorder), Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), St Stephen Walbrook, 23 November 2018

Lachrymae Variations for 15 solo strings (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Longbow, Peter Sheppard Skærved (director), Maison Dieu, Dover, 20 May 2016

Six Caprices for violin (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Peter Sheppard Skaerved, various venues, 2006—2016

Burgh Castle for piano and ensemble (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

CHROMA ensemble and Roderick Chadwick (piano), The Forge and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 11 and 23 November 2015

Austerity Measures I for 10-string guitar (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Stefan Östersjö, ORCiM Research Festival, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, 2 October 2014

Fosdyke Wash for piano and string quartet (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Kreutzer Quartet and Zubin Kanga (piano), Waterloo Festival, 29 June 2013

Austerity Measures II for Howarth-Redgate oboe and string quartet (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Kreutzer Quartet and Christopher Redgate (oboe), Wilton’s Music Hall, 12 June 2013

Forlorn Hope for 11-string alto guitar and optional electronics (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Stefan Östersjö (guitar) and Juan Parra Cancino (electronics), ORCiM Research Festival, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, 5 October 2012

Orfordness for solo piano (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Zubin Kanga, Out Hear contemporary music series, Kings Place, 13 February 2012

2nd Sonata for Cello with optional electronics (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Neil Heyde (cello) and David Gorton (electronics), Connect Festival, Malmö, 15 November 2011

Schmetterlingsspiel for solo oboe and ensemble (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Ensemble Exposé, Christopher Redgate (oboe), Roger Redgate (conductor), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 21 November 2009

Capriccio for cello (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Neil Heyde, Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology, Couvent des Cordelier, Paris, 28 October 2009

2nd String Quartet: Frozen Landscapes for string quartet (London: ABRSM Publishing, 2008)

Sacconi Quartet, Wigmore Hall, 11 March 2008

Erinnerungsspiel for oboe and optional electronics (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Christopher Redgate (oboe), Michael Casey (electronics), Coombehurst Studio, Kingston, 29 January 2007

String Quartet: Trajectories for string quartet (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Kreutzer Quartet, Tate Gallery, St Ives, 17 September 2006

The Fall of Babel for symphony orchestra (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Zsolt Nagy (conductor), Maida Vale Studio 1, 23 June 2006

Melting Forms for piano trio (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Lawson Trio, Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, 26 February 2006

Prelude after d’Anglebert (London: ABRSM Publishing, 2002)

Graham Ross, Royal Academy of Music, 21 November 2005

Sonata for Solo Cello (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Neil Heyde, Tate Gallery, St Ives, 11 September 2005

Sonnentode for solo soprano and ensemble (Berlin: Verlag Neue Musik, 2018)

Jane’s Minstrels, Jane Manning (soprano), Roger Montgomery (conductor), Coombehurst Studio, Kingston, 24 June 2005

Portrait albums

David Gorton: Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classic, 2017)

Longbow, Stefan Östersjö (guitar)

David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2015)

Kreutzer Quartet, Christopher Redgate (oboe), Zubin Kanga (piano), Neil Heyde (cello)

Trajectories: music by David Gorton (Métier, 2010)

Kreutzer Quartet, Neil Heyde (cello), Peter Sheppard Skærved (violin), Roderick Chadwick (piano)

Appears on

“La mer bleue” - Messiaen, Gorton & Szymanowski (Divine Art, 2020)

Roderick Chadwick (piano)

Diabelli Machines 8 (Orpheus, 2018)

Ensemble Interface, Paulo de Assis (director)

Electrifying Oboe (Métier, 2013)

Ensemble Exposé, Christopher Redgate (oboe), Roger Redgate (conductor)

Gorton, D., & Östersjö, S. Negotiating the Discursive Voice in Chamber Music. In Performance, Subjectivity, and Experimentation, edited by Catherine Lawes, 53-78. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2020.

Gorton D., & Östersjö, S. Austerity Measures I: performing the discursive voice. In Voices, Bodies, Practices: performing musical subjectivities, by Catherine Laws, William Brooks, David Gorton, Nguyễn Thanh Thủy, Stefan Östersjö, and Jeremy J. Wells, 29-82. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2019.

Clarke, E., Doffman, M., Gorton, D., & Östersjö, S. Fluid Practices, Solid Roles? The evolution of Forlorn Hope. In Distributed Creativity: Collaboration and Improvisation in Contemporary Music, edited by Eric Clarke and Mark Doffman, 116-135. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Gorton, D., & Redgate, C. Austerity Measures and Rich Rewards. In Experimental encounters in music and beyond, edited by Kathleen Coessens, 64-73. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017.

Gorton, D., & Östersjö, S. Choose your own adventure music: on the emergence of voice in musical collaboration. Contemporary Music Review 35, no. 6 (2016): 579–598.

Gorton, D., & Kanga, Z. Risky Business: negotiating virtuosity in the collaborative creation of Orfordness for solo piano. In Music and/as Process, edited by Lauren Redhead and Vanessa Hawes, 97-115. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2016.

Coorevits, E., Moelants, D., Östersjö, S., Gorton, D., & Leman, M. Decomposing a Composition: On the Multi-layered Analysis of Expressive Music Performance. In Music, Mind, and Embodiment: 11th International Symposium, CMMR 2015, edited by Richard Kronland-Martinet, Mitsuko Aramaic, and Sølvi Ystad, 167-189. Springer International Publishing, 2016.

Gorton, D., Shaw-Miller, S., & Heyde, N. Instrumental Choreography: Gesture and Performance in Gorton’s Capriccio for solo cello. In La musique et ses instruments, edited by Michèle Castellengo and Huhues Genevois, 485-493. Delatour France, 2013.