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Joby Talbot

Born: 1971

Nationality: British

Publisher: Chester Music

Photo © Johan Persson


Joby Talbot was born in London in 1971. He studied composition privately with Brian Elias and at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, before completing a Master of Music (Composition) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Simon Bainbridge.

Highlights from among Talbot’s diverse catalogue include the narrative ballets Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (2011) and The Winter's Tale (2014), both collaborations with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet and National Ballet of Canada that have since entered the repertory of companies worldwide; the choral Path of Miracles (2005), a 60-minute a cappella journey along the Camino de Santiago commissioned by Nigel Short’s Tenebrae and performed regularly by international ensembles; arrangements of songs by Detroit rock duo The White Stripes alongside Talbot's original works for choreographer Wayne McGregor’s unparalleled Chroma (The Royal Ballet, 2006); Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity (2012) as an additional movement to Holst's The Planets for the Philharmonia Orchestra’s interactive digital installation, Universe of Sound under Esa-Pekka Salonen; Genus Quartet (2013) for Los Angeles' acclaimed Calder Quartet, premiered as part of the Barbican's weekend of new music curated by Nico Muhly; and the hugely popular animated feature Sing (Garth Jennings, 2016) for Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, Minions). For the BBC Proms, Talbot has written The Wishing Tree (The King's Singers, 2002); Sneaker Wave (BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 2004) and an arrangement of Purcell's Chacony in G Minor (BBC Symphony Orchestra, 2011). Further orchestral highlights include Desolation Wilderness (2006), a trumpet concerto for Alison Balsom and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; and Meniscus (2013) to mark World Environment Day at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Talbot's extensive works for dance began with Chroma, followed by Genus (Paris Opera Ballet, 2007) and Entity (Random Dance, 2008), also with Wayne McGregor. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the first full-length narrative score commissioned by The Royal Ballet in 20 years, and the work has gone on to be universally hailed as a modern classic. Besides The Winter's Tale, Talbot's further collaborations with Christopher Wheeldon include Tide Harmonic (2009), a work for large ensemble that began life as the score for Eau by choreographer Carolyn Carlson and CCN Roubaix; and Fool's Paradise (2007), adapted from Talbot's 2002 score for silent film The Dying Swan. Talbot was awarded the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse for composition in 2015. 

Talbot's considerable experience writing for the screen includes BBC Two's cult classic comedy series The League of Gentlemen and feature films The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Son of Rambow (2007) and Sing with director Garth Jennings; Franklyn (Gerald McMorrow, 2008) and Hunky Dory (Marc Evans, 2011), for which he developed orchestral arrangements of pop songs with young musicians, alongside writing the largely electronic score; and Closed Circuit (John Crowley, 2013). Talbot has twice been commissioned by the British Film Institute to re-score silent films The Lodger (1999) and The Dying Swan (2002) and his new score to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 Vampyr will be presented on 27 October 2018 for LA Opera’s Off Grand season at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

Talbot’s critically acclaimed first opera, Everest, was given its premiere in 2015 by The Dallas Opera. With a libretto by Gene Scheer (Moby Dick, Cold Mountain) the opera relates the tragic events of the 1996 ascent in which several climbers died. Following its success, The Dallas Opera has commissioned a second opera for 2020. Talbot’s concerto for the acclaimed guitarist Miloš Karadaglić is to be revealed in summer 2018, while other future works include a Cantata commissioned by Independent Opera for Britten Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia Voices, and a third narrative ballet with Christopher Wheeldon.
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