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BIOGRAPHY

Judith Weir b.1954

Judith Weir's interests in narrative, folklore and theatre have found expression in a wide range of musical invention. She is the composer and librettist of three operas (A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert). Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced her extended series of pieces for the Schubert Ensemble. For many years she has written music for performances in England and India with storyteller Vayu Naidu; and she has worked on numerous film and music collaborations with Margaret Williams, the most recent being Armida, a one-hour television opera commissioned by Channel 4 and first shown in 2006.

During a period in the 1990s as resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, she wrote several new works for orchestra and chorus (including Forest and We are Shadows) and has also been commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Music Untangled and Natural History) the Minnesota Orchestra (The Welcome Arrival of Rain) and Carnegie Hall (woman.life.song, a song cycle written for Jessye Norman).

Judith Weir was born into a Scottish family in 1954, but grew up near London. She was an oboe player, performing with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and had a few composition lessons with John Tavener during her schooldays. She attended Cambridge University, where her composition teacher was Robin Holloway, and on leaving there spent several years as a community musician in rural southern England. She then returned to Scotland to work as a university teacher in Glasgow. Since the 1990s she has been based in London, and was artistic director of the Spitalfields Festival for six years. She has continued to teach, most recently as Fromm Foundation Visiting Professor at Harvard University during 2004, and at present, as a Research Professor at Cardiff University. In December 2007, she was presented with the Queen's Medal for Music by HM The Queen and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen's Music. In January 2008, over fifty over her works for all possible media were performed during Telling The Tale, a three-day retrospective of her music, hosted by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, London.

Judith Weir is now at work on a new opera which will receive its first performances at the Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria, in 2011. Her children's opera Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Spinne received thirteen performances from the Hamburg Staatsoper in 2009.

Image credit: 
Chris Christodolou