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Gavin Bryars

Gavin BryarsBorn: 16-Jan-1943
Birthplace: Goole, Yorkshire, England

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Composer

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Avant-garde composer

Now one of the better-known modern composers, Gavin Bryars began his music career as a jazz bassist, performing in an improvisational context with musicians such as guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer Tony Oxley. Beginning in 1966, he spent a period in the United States collaborating with avant garde composers John Cage and Cornelius Cardew before returning to the U.K. and assuming a teaching position at the Portsmouth College of Art, which he held between 1969 and 1978. It was during this time that he founded the Portsmouth Sinfonia, a unique orchestra that does not require its members to have any particular musical proficiency.

Bryars first established himself as a composer in his own right with the piece The Sinking of the Titanic (1969). An updated version of both this work and his 1971 composition Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, released in the 1990s on the Point label, are largely responsible for his current popularity. Throughout the subsequent decades, Bryars has explored a wide variety of musical settings -- including full-scale operas, string quartets, works for solo bass (with musician Charlie Haden), vocal arrangements (for The Hilliard Ensemble), and, of course, numerous commissions for orchestra. An extensive association with the dance community has also been maintaned over the years, most notably manifesting itself in the 2002 production of Biped, done in collaboration with choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Father: Walter Joseph Bryars
Mother: Miriam Eleanor
Wife: Angela Margaret Bigley (m. 1971, div. 1993, two daughters)
Wife: Anya Tchernakova (m. 1999, one son)

    High School: Goole Grammar School
    University: University of Sheffield
    Teacher: Lecturer, Leicester Polytechnic (1970-78)

    Joseph Holbrooke Bassist (1964-67)

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