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"Rattling irrationalist piano." WIRE
"Burn used his hour long show to coax a dazzling range of tones, a fluid, musically persuasive set that eloquently skewered pianistic orthodoxy." Jazz Times USA
"The day began with a solo concert by British pianist Chris Burn; one of the highlights of the festival." Cadence USA
"He launced at times into forays that were both manic and equally precise" Guardian




Biographical Notes


His initial musical experiences were as a trumpeter with the brass band at the school where his parents taught. Trumpet playing is still an important part of his life although for much of his professional life he has devoted himself to developing a new and personal language with the piano.

Following education at Surrey University where he studied composition with Reginald Smith Brindle, Sebastian Forbes and Robin Maconie, Chis Burn became involved in free improvisation. A commitment to this way of working has stayed with him throughout his career. He considers all his compositional work to be informed by his experiences in this area of contemporary music making. In 1984 he formed Ensemble, an octet of improvising musicians whose work embraces some aspects of composition. This group is still working today and has performed at many European festivals and broadcast on radio and television.

On leaving University he made his living as a pianist, conductor, arranger (particularly dance band scores) composer for dance and teacher. At this time he developed what was to be a life long interest in extending the sound world and performance techniques of the piano. This lead to a complementary interest in Cage, and particularly Cowell.



In 1993 he made a solo CD of the music of Henry Cowell. This met with universal critical acclaim. "Chris Burn, poised technician and trenchant interpreter, is the most convincing Cowell champion I've heard." (Andrew Porter, The Observer)

Although many of his early works were for large orchestral forces, (including 3 evocations, premiered at St Johns, Smith Square,) the last decade has seen a concentration on small ensembles and pieces for solo piano. VICTO have released a collection of solo piano pieces recorded at the 1996 Victoriaville festival, Canada. Other festivals where he has performed his material include Ulrichsberg Kalaidaphon, FMP Berlin, LMC London, Bochum Germany etc. Many of his ensemble pieces have worked with notated material used in conjunction with freely improvised material. For his work in composition he was shortlisted for a Paul Hamlyn award in 1993. He has received many other grants and prizes for his work.

He currently continues to give lectures and concerts of Cowell, does a small amount of teaching, performs in many situations as a free improviser, is preparing a new CD of Ensemble pieces and continues to play 5 a side football.

Selected Works New projects


New Projects and some Future Plans

2004 news
Tubulate have performed "hall of mirrors" in bangor, usa, russia, harlow and RNCM. their new cd takes its title from chris burn's piece and features the work.
Duo contour perform 'alles vergangliche' in germany in february. Chris burn's arrangements of some derek bailey guitar solos for harp, violin and cello are to be performed in london in the spring.
chris burn's ensemble are to play the 'freedom of the city' festival in london in may.
the group have a new cd out on the polish musica genera label.

TUBULATE played "Hall of Mirrors" at Harlow - 20 & 21 March 2002
they will play this piece at Bangor Festival of new music on 9th April 2003.
Philip Thomas has given a number of performances of "Only the Snow..." and "As if as".
in rehearsal;
new piece for tpt and snare drum with Duo Contour (



Selected Works



  • 1976 3 Evocations (orch)
    (St Johns, Smith Square)
  • 1977 Dark Sounds (orch)
    (Surrey University)
  • 1979 January Collection (Jazz Orch)
    (Hammersmith Festival)
  • 1984 Fonetiks (Sax/pno)
  • 1986 A Fountain Replete (Piano)
  • 1987 Influence and Concealment (ens)
    ACTA, Purcell Room
  • 1989 Maintaining Hover (ens)
    BMIC, Goldsmiths University
  • 1990 Circulatory (ens)
    Place Theatre
  • 1990 Fissile Totems (ens)
    York University, Midlands Arts Centre
  • 1991 Keyboard Studies (pno)
    Bochum, BMIC
  • 1992 Ensemble plus (ens)
    Conway Hall, London
  • 1993 Septstep (ens)
    Place Theatre, BBC Radio 3
  • 1995 As if as (pno)
  • 1996 Only the snow.. (pno)
  • 1996 Music for three rivers
    Victoriaville, Canada,VICTO 50
  • 1998 etcetera
    Solo for Snare Drum
  • 1999 New Work in preparation for
    Ebony Clarinet Quartet for the new CD due for release in 2000
  • The final part for four hands at one piano the sky a silver dissonance



Chris Burn's Ensemble have released the CD Navigations to worldwide critical praise.
"An understated delight - provocitive in it's ideas, musically inventive and refreshing." Wire
New CDs
in preparation:
"From the Faraway Organ" - 2 versions
  1. Amplified Piano
  2. Large Orchestra.


Chris Burns scores are all available from the composer.

The CDs are available from ACTA Records.

Please Email for details


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for more information see improvisers pages at Sheffield uni

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