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King's Classical Alumni Playlist

01 December 2020

King’s has a long tradition of producing excellent classical composers and musicians. We were really spoilt for choice compiling this list, but we’ve managed to pull together an eclectic mix of our favourites.

A version of this playlist can also be found on Spotify.


What better place to start than with a bit of Bach, and with virtuoso conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner FKC (CAS Music, 1965). John studied under Thurston Dart a key figure in the modern early music revival. He was awarded a Fellowship by King’s in 2013.

Next, David Bruce (PhD Music Composition, 1999) completed his PhD under the supervision of leading contemporary composer and former Henry Purcell Professor of Composition, Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Unusually, his ‘Cymbeline’ is written for mandolin and string quartet.

Sir George Benjamin succeeded Harrison Birtwhistle as Henry Purcell Professor of Composition in 2001. His former student, Dai Fujikura (PhD Music, 2006), combines western and eastern traditions in many of his works. Here is his cello concerto performed by International Contemporary Ensemble with cellist Katinka Kleijn.

Pianist and composer Yiruma (Composition, 2000) is another former student Sir Harrison Birtwhistle. His solo piano pieces have proved hugely popular with audiences around the world.

Time for a bit of choral music. Lady Susan ‘Suzi’ Digby OBE (Music, 1980) is a renowned choral conductor and educator who has been a trailblazer for reintroducing singing to UK schools.

Next up, South African composer and pianist, Surendran Reddy (Musicology, 1981-82), is known for his fusion of jazz and classical with world music and South African mbaqanga.

No list of classical music alumni would be complete without the brilliant Michael Nyman (MMus Music, 1971). A ground-breaking minimalist composer, he is perhaps best known for his award-winning film scores.

Keeping in a more experimental mode, Chris Newman (Music, 1979) is an artist working across music and the visual arts. Here he is performing his '7 stupid songs', which, by the time of this performance, he had whittled down to only four.

Another film and TV composer for you now, Isobel Waller-Bridge (MMus Music, 2012) has provided the soundtracks for the TV shows Fleabag and War & Peace and also scored the feature film Vita and Virginia, about fellow alumna Virginia Woolf.

Finally, Ji Liu (PhD Music, 2018) is pianist and composer who has topped the classical charts on numerous occasions. Here he is playing the final 5 minutes of an 18 hour performance of his own work 'Sonata Fantasy, The Book of Moments'.

We hope you enjoyed our King’s classical playlist. If we missed your favourite King’s composer or musician from the list, let us know on Twitter, Facebook of via email.

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