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Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson


Ian Wilson was born in Belfast and began composing while at university. He has written nearly one hundred and fifty works, including chamber operas, concertos, string quartets, a range of orchestral and chamber music and multi-media pieces. His compositions have been performed and broadcast on six continents, and presented at festivals including the BBC Proms, Venice Biennale and Frankfurt Bookfair and at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert and Wigmore Halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. Wilson has in recent years also worked with jazz musicians, Asian tabla and Chinese pipa players and traditional Irish singers; he has also collaborated with choreographers, theatre directors and electroacoustic and computer music composers.

In 1991, Running, Thinking, Finding received the composition prize at the Ultima festival in Oslo, and in 1992 he received the Macaulay Fellowship administered by the Arts Council of Ireland. In 1998 he was elected to Aosdána, Ireland’s State-sponsored body of creative artists and in recent years he has been AHRB Research Fellow at the University of Ulster, Composer-in-Association with California’s Camerata Pacifica ensemble and An Foras Feasa post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland. He was director of the Sligo New Music Festival from 2003 to 2011 and from 2010 to 2014 is Associate Composer with the Ulster Orchestra.

There are commercially-available recordings of nearly fifty of Wilson’s works on labels including Diatribe, Riverrun, Black Box, Timbre, Guild, Meridian and Chandos. His music is published by Ricordi (London) and Universal Edition and website is

Forthcoming works include Causeway, the final part of his orchestral trilogy of works inspired by the history, culture and geology of the Ulster region; his 14th string quartet, Tribe, for the ConTempo Quartet plus loopstation; and Acoustic Theatre works for Dutch saxophonist Ties Mellema (The End of Desire) and Australian recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey (In the beginning…).

As a pianist, Wilson has given the Irish premieres of works by composers such as Morton Feldman (For Bunita Marcus), Michael Finnissy, Luciano Berio, Judith Weir and Howard Skempton as well as the world premieres of specially-written works by Deirdre McKay, Stephen Gardner and Colin Riley. These days he occasionally performs with his trio Common Tongue, providing live electronics alongside sean-nós singer Lorcán Mac Mathúna and saxophonist Cathal Roche.

As a conductor of over 20 years’ experience, Wilson has directed many groups from choirs and ensembles to orchestras. He conducted the acclaimed ensembles musikFabrik and Ixion during his time as director of the Sligo New Music Festival and in 2008 conducted an ensemble of Ismaili musicians in the premiere performance of his specially-composed work celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the Aga Khan, in the presence of His Highness. Recently he conducted the Ulster Orchestra in a programme which included the world première of his piano concerto Flags and Emblems as well as works by Stravinsky and Lutoslawski; this concert from the 2012 Belfast Festival at Queen’s was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3.


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