Diana Burrell was born in Norwich in 1948. She studied at Cambridge University and now lives in Harwich, Essex. After spending several years as a teacher, she became a freelance viola player, but gradually concentrated on writing music. Her first piece to receive widespread critical acclaim was the Missa Sancte Endeliente, a 50-minute work written for the 1980 St Endellion Festival. A massive composition for five soloists, semi-chorus, chorus and orchestra, the Missa incorporates settings of Cornish and Latin texts as well as a wide range of compositional techniques from micro tonality to modality.
Brought to London for the Spitalfields Festival of 1983, the Missa provided the launch pad for a wide-ranging body of work, ranging from the string quartet (Gulls and Angels, 1993) and chamber ensemble (Barrow,1991), to opera (The Albatross, written in 1987 and premiered by Trinity College of Music in June 1997) and the colourful Symphonies of Flocks, Herds and Shoals (1995-6), commissioned by the BBC and premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her first major orchestral piece, Landscape (1988), won a recent ‘Encore’ award (organised by the Royal Philharmonic Society and BBC Radio 3 and sponsored by the PRS Foundation).
Other commissions include Bronze for the Brunel Ensemble, Gold for Philip Mead and the Royal Northern College of Music, recorded for NMC. Recent works include a BBC commission for Loré Lixenberg and David Alberman with live electronics, a piece for Mark Knoop using accordion and piano, and a major new series of pieces for organ with various ensembles which will be composed over the next five years. This cycle is made possible by the awarding of an Arts And Humanities Research Council Fellowship and is in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Music which will host all first performances.
Diana Burrell is well known internationally both as a composer and lecturer, and has featured at concerts and university campuses worldwide; she has also written many works for young and amateur performers. She is Artistic Director of Spitalfields Festival.