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Philip Venables


Philip Venables’ music is often concerned with violence, politics and speech within concert music and opera. His work has been recently described as “brutally effective” (Times), “brutally exhilarating” (Seen & Heard), “duly playful and occasionally disturbing” (Guardian), “a dark and violent portrait of sexual desire” ( and “original and intelligent in both form and content… reminiscent of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle; dripping in inexplicable meaning” (Exeunt Magazine). And most recently, from The Guardian: “Venables’s Illusions, a collaboration with performance artist David Hoyle, batters at the limits of form, emotion and sexuality in a ferocious assertion of LGBT individualism in the face of establishment nihilism and uncertainty – a brilliant, extreme work that grips like a vice and won’t let go.”

Philip’s music has been performed and broadcast internationally. Performers and commissioners include The Royal Opera, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore hall, London Contemporary Opera, (The Schmürz, with writer Michael Brett), the London Sinfonietta (The Revenge of Miguel Cotto with poet Steven Fowler; Illusions with performance artist David Hoyle), Endymion & EXAUDI (numbers 76-80: tristan und isolde), Ensemble 10-10 (ANIMA), Black Dyke Brass Band, Rambert Dance, HAU Theater Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg and Theater Basel.

In 2016 Philip made his Royal Opera debut with 4.48 Psychosis (dir. Ted Huffman), the first ever permitted adaptation of Sarah Kane’s work. 4.48 Psychosis won the UK Theatre Award 2016 for Achievement in Opera and the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Large-scale Composition, and was nominated for an Olivier Award and Sky Arts South Bank Award for Best Opera. It was universally acclaimed: “Venables proves he’s one of the finest composers around” (Guardian); “He challenges the conventions of opera. Via an array of resources he ambushes and refreshes an old art form.” (Observer); “Experimentation in the service of absolute emotional precision: Venables’ economical work is one of the most exhilarating operas in years, even while it gives voice to some of the darkest thoughts imaginable.” (Spectator).

Forthcoming projects include a new version of Illusions for the New Music Biennial 2017, a sound installation for Manchester International Festival and development of a verbatim opera project based on victims’ accounts of rape. In 2017 Philip took a residency at MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. 2018 will see his debut disc of chamber music released by NMC, a violin concerto and a live video+ensemble interactive 'gender gameshow' piece with the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Remix Ensemble and Asko Schoenberg.

Philip Venables was born in Chester in 1979. He studied at Cambridge and with Philip Cashian and David Sawer at the Royal Academy of Music, which elected him Associate (ARAM) in 2016. From 2013–2016 Philip was Doctoral Composer in Residence with the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, studying with Julian Philips and James Weeks. He is a director of the agency Bright Ivy Ltd. His music is published by Ricordi Musikverlag GmbH (Universal Music).



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