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Stones of Swinside Fell


As well as having a main interest in composing, Gillian has a wide range of musical experience and interests, including conducting, performance, improvisation and the Javanese Gamelan. Currently she is a reviewer for the internet magazine Bel Canto ( Gillian also enjoys teaching and is very keen to encourage musical creativity in others. In September 1997 she is taking up the post of Head of Music at the Atherley School, Southampton.




Biographical Notes

Gillian Carcas is an English composer who was born in 1963, grew up in West Sussex and read history at Southampton University before starting a career in the Civil Service in London. Although she had composed simple pieces as a young child, she had stopped by the age of twelve and did not compose again for eleven years. Eventually Gillian realised that she had a vocation to compose music which could no longer be denied and she began composing once more in 1987.

She left the Civil Service that year to study with Sebastian Forbes at Surrey University where she won the Joyce Dixey Prize for Composition in 1990. Continuing her studies at Durham University with John Casken and with Peter Manning for electroacoustic music, Gillian won awards towards her postgraduate work from the British Academy, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Durham University and South East Arts. More recently she has received advice on her work from the composer Erika Fox, and she was formally awarded a PhD in Composition in June 1996.

Gillian's considerable output comprises works for a variety of musical forces including electroacoustic works, string quartets, solo, vocal, choral and chamber ensemble pieces, orchestral works and also a chamber opera on the subject of Boudica.


She has received various commissions, including a song cycle for Musica Mundi who gave its fourth performance in November 1996, a chamber work premiered in 1995 by the ensemble Gemini, and more recently a brass fanfare for London Underground Ltd and the London Borough of Brent.

Artists who have performed Gillian's music include the New London Chamber Choir, the Durham Singers, the West Sussex Philharmonic Choir, the Bingham Quartet, Double Image, Jane's Minstrels, Rosy Voices, the Northern Sinfonia, the London Sinfonietta, EOS and Ensemble Alternance. In November 1994 a chamber piece "The Stones of Swinside Fell" received an American premiere by Synchronia who have now released the work on CD in the USA. Gillian was a co-winner of the 1996 Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize.

Gillian's music is atmospheric, evocative, dramatic and lyrical. A recent review of her orchestral piece "In Search of Loriel" in its performance by EOS described it as "music which seems to come from the space between the space between the stars. . .It is a glowing, sensitive work we should hear much more of." (Peter Buchan in the West Sussex County Times, 27 June 1997)
Selected Compositions



Selected Compositions



4 mins May 1997
For string orchestra.
Premiered in May 1997 by the May String Ensemble and conducted by the composer.



10 min August 1992
15 mins November 1996
Choir, soprano soloist and accompaniment.
Performed in its original form in December 1993 by the West Sussex Philharmonic Choir and in December 1994 by the Durham Singers. Considerably revised and extended to include a children's choir, percussion and two cellos.



3 mins February 1996
For three trumpets, two trombones, and one bass trombone.
Commissioned by London Underground Ltd and the London Borough of Brent for performance at Wembley Park Underground Station.



4 mins January 1996
For solo piano.
Premiered by John Thwaites in Durham in March 1996. Performed in December 1996 by Stephen Gutman for the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize.



6 mins August 1995
For clarinet, violin, cello, piano.
Commissioned for performance by Gemini in November 1995 with funds from South East Arts, Horsham District Arts Council and Horsham Music Circle.



35 - 40 mins June 1995
Opera for 7 solo roles and chamber ensemble. Libretto by the composer. This completed Act which is performable in its own right is planned as the first of 3 Acts of a full-length opera.



3 mins October 1994
For 16 unaccompanied voices. Performed by the New London Chamber Choir in a SPNM workshop at the Royal Academy of Music in February 1995.



7 mins August 1994
For orchestra. Performed in a workshop by the Northern Sinfonia in October 1994. First public performance given by EOS and conducted by Charles Hazlewood in June 1997.



15 mins May 1994
Song cycle commissioned by Musica Mundi for mezzo soprano, cello and harpsichord. Performed at Bath in September 1995, in London at Sutton House in November 1995, in February 1996 at Bristol University and November 1996 at Warwick University.



11 mins August 1993
Electroacoustic piece using various studio techniques to manipulate and to create textures of sound from samples of gongs, voice and the Javanese Gamelan. Performed at Durham University in June 1994 revised in 1993 and 1994 and December 1995



5 mins September 1992
Soprano, flute, viola, cello, harp. Performed by Ensemble Alternance at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival under the auspices of the SPNM in November 1992.



5 mins April 1992
Flute, violin and piano. Performed in St Louis, Missouri in November 1994 by Synchronia. Has been released on CD in the USA.



12 mins April 1992
Electro-acoustic piece using the sounds of voice, clicking fingers, filtered noise, oboe and cymbal, with effects. Broadcast on radio in St Louis, November 1994.



4 mins March 1992
Violin and viola. Performed at the Chard Festival of Women in Music in May 1992 by members of the Bingham Quartet. WIDTH="2%">



8 mins March 1992
Clarinet and piano; premiered by Double Image at Leighton House in March 1994 as part of the London Festival of Women in Music. Performed in the USA by Synchronia in March 1996.



4 mins December 1990
Flute, cello, piano and percussion. Performed at Durham University in a workshop in January 1991 by members of the London Sinfonietta.



12 mins May 1990
2 violins, viola, cello in three continuous movements. Performed at Surrey University in May 1990. Winner of the 1990 Joyce Dixey Prize.


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To contact Gillian please e-mail Email.

The Stones of Swinside Fell sound clip performanced by Synchronia (St Louis, USA), Timothy Vincent Clark, music director. Performance available on Synchronia's ALL LIVE CD.

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