Param Vir

Param Vir

‘[His] music is resounding in my heart as messages of great inner wealth. It is like a new idea of beauty and grace and has all the strength and the energy of great art.’ Hans Werner Henze

Param Vir was born in Delhi, India. His mother was a poet and classical Indian vocalist, his father an electronics engineer and mathematician. Vir's formative years at home were steeped in Indian classical music. He was introduced to western music through piano lessons from the age of nine and composition lessons from the time he was fourteen; this timely exposure kindled a passion and vision for original creative work which continues unabated to the present day.

Vir's early compositions in India aroused the interest of Peter Maxwell Davies through whose strong recommendation Vir moved to London in 1984 on an Inlaks Scholarship to study with Oliver Knussen (and subsequently with Jonathan Harvey and Randolph Coleman). He won the Benjamin Britten Composition Prize (Aldeburgh), the Kucyna International Composition Prize (Boston), the Tippett Composition Award (Dartington) and the Performing Right Society Composition Prize (London) in quick succession.

Vir quickly established himself as an opera composer with his two one-act operas, Snatched by the Gods (libretto by William Radice) and Broken Strings (libretto by David Rudkin), commissioned by Hans Werner Henze for the 1992 Munich Biennale, and directed by Pierre Audi in ravishing productions for Netherlands Opera. They won the composer the Ernst von Siemens Stiftung Förderpreis in 1993. Further productions followed at Almeida Opera in 1996 with London Sinfonietta, Scottish Opera in 1998, and Berlin State Opera and Musikwerkstatt Wien in 1999. Muziektheater Transparant revived the original Audi production in 2001 in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Rouen.

Vir’s first full-length opera Ion with librettist David Lan (after Euripides) was commissioned by Aldeburgh/Almeida Opera and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2000, followed by a touring co-production in 2003 with Opéra national du Rhin, the Berliner Festspiele and Music Theatre Wales.

With Black Feather Rising in 2008, Vir developed a substantial but intimate music-theatre piece in collaboration with dramatist David Rudkin, based on a Native American folktale. These operatic works meanwhile were interspersed with music for a variety of forces, including chamber pieces, larger instrumental ensembles and song cycles. Orchestral works created include Horse Tooth White Rock for the BBC Philharmonic (1994) and Between Earth and Sky, the latter inspired by Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Cloud Gate and premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2006. The BBC Proms 2013 featured a third orchestral work, the sharply chiselled Cave of Luminous Mind with the BBC SO conducted by Sakari Oramo.

Other significant commissions include the Theatre of Magical Beings and Constellations for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, He Begins His Great Trance for the BBC Singers, …beyond the reach of the world… (meditation for cello and percussion) for the soundfestival (Scotland), and the song cycles Shine Before My Eyes comissioned by the Internationale Beethovenfeste Bonn and A Kinsman to Danger for Kissinger Sommer.

Work in 2021 continues on Vir’s fifth opera Awakening, commissioned by Theater Bonn, to a dramatic poem by David Rudkin.

Biography

‘[His] music is resounding in my heart as messages of great inner wealth. It is like a new idea of beauty and grace and has all the strength and the energy of great art.’ Hans Werner Henze

Param Vir was born in Delhi, India. His mother was a poet and classical Indian vocalist, his father an electronics engineer and mathematician. Vir's formative years at home were steeped in Indian classical music. He was introduced to western music through piano lessons from the age of nine and composition lessons from the time he was fourteen; this timely exposure kindled a passion and vision for original creative work which continues unabated to the present day.

Vir's early compositions in India aroused the interest of Peter Maxwell Davies through whose strong recommendation Vir moved to London in 1984 on an Inlaks Scholarship to study with Oliver Knussen (and subsequently with Jonathan Harvey and Randolph Coleman). He won the Benjamin Britten Composition Prize (Aldeburgh), the Kucyna International Composition Prize (Boston), the Tippett Composition Award (Dartington) and the Performing Right Society Composition Prize (London) in quick succession.

Vir quickly established himself as an opera composer with his two one-act operas, Snatched by the Gods (libretto by William Radice) and Broken Strings (libretto by David Rudkin), commissioned by Hans Werner Henze for the 1992 Munich Biennale, and directed by Pierre Audi in ravishing productions for Netherlands Opera. They won the composer the Ernst von Siemens Stiftung Förderpreis in 1993. Further productions followed at Almeida Opera in 1996 with London Sinfonietta, Scottish Opera in 1998, and Berlin State Opera and Musikwerkstatt Wien in 1999. Muziektheater Transparant revived the original Audi production in 2001 in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Rouen.

Vir’s first full-length opera Ion with librettist David Lan (after Euripides) was commissioned by Aldeburgh/Almeida Opera and premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2000, followed by a touring co-production in 2003 with Opéra national du Rhin, the Berliner Festspiele and Music Theatre Wales.

With Black Feather Rising in 2008, Vir developed a substantial but intimate music-theatre piece in collaboration with dramatist David Rudkin, based on a Native American folktale. These operatic works meanwhile were interspersed with music for a variety of forces, including chamber pieces, larger instrumental ensembles and song cycles. Orchestral works created include Horse Tooth White Rock for the BBC Philharmonic (1994) and Between Earth and Sky, the latter inspired by Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Cloud Gate and premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 2006. The BBC Proms 2013 featured a third orchestral work, the sharply chiselled Cave of Luminous Mind with the BBC SO conducted by Sakari Oramo.

Other significant commissions include the Theatre of Magical Beings and Constellations for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, He Begins His Great Trance for the BBC Singers, …beyond the reach of the world… (meditation for cello and percussion) for the soundfestival (Scotland), and the song cycles Shine Before My Eyes comissioned by the Internationale Beethovenfeste Bonn and A Kinsman to Danger for Kissinger Sommer.

Work in 2021 continues on Vir’s fifth opera Awakening, commissioned by Theater Bonn, to a dramatic poem by David Rudkin.

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