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Tarik O'Regan

Born: 1978

Nationality: British and American

Publisher: Novello & Co

Photo © Frances Marshall Photography

Tarik O'Regan, "one of the leading British composers of his generation" (Gramophone) who is writing "music of startling beauty" (The Observer), was born in London in 1978. He grew up predominantly in Croydon in South London, spending some of his early childhood in Morocco, where his mother was born, and Algeria. He was educated at Whitgift School, during which time he studied percussion, and later composition with Jeremy Dale Roberts, at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music in London. He then read music at Pembroke College, Oxford and in 1997, while still a student, he received his first commissions from the Choir of New College, Oxford and James Bowman.

Following the completion of his undergraduate studies, O'Regan began serving as the classical recordings reviewer for The Observer newspaper, a position he held for four years. During part of this time he also worked for JPMorgan Chase, the investment bank. He completed his postgraduate studies under the direction of Robin Holloway at Cambridge, where he was appointed Composer in Residence at Corpus Christi College and formally began his career as a composer, with his first published works appearing in 2001 on the Finnish Sulasol imprint. This period marked the start of his relationship with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge (who would later release O’Regan’s first album, VOICES, under the direction of Timothy Brown) and the premiere of two important orchestral works: Clichés with the London Sinfonietta and The Pure Good of Theory with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In 2004 O'Regan moved to New York City to take up the Chester Schirmer Fulbright Fellowship at Columbia University and subsequently a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard. During this period, his composition Sainte won the Vocal category of the 2005 British Composer Awards and his debut disc, VOICES was released on the Collegium label. O'Regan began dividing his time between the UK and the US when he was appointed Fellow Commoner in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. During his two-year tenure at Cambridge, his composition Threshold of Night won the Liturgical category of the 2007 British Composer Awards and Scattered Rhymes, his first CD on the Harmonia Mundi label, performed by the Orlando Consort and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Paul Hillier, was released. O'Regan's second disc on the Harmonia Mundi label, Threshold of Night, appeared in late 2008 and awakened a wider interest in his work, demonstrated by the CD garnering two GRAMMY® Award nominations in 2009: Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance.

After this, he increased his output as a music commentator in print and on air, especially on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4. This aspect of his career broadened with the broadcasting in 2010 on BBC Radio 4 of the award-winning Composing New York, a documentary written and presented by O'Regan. In the same year, he was appointed to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as a Director's Visitor and made his BBC Proms debut with Latent Manifest performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. O'Regan's third album on the Harmonia Mundi label, Acallam na Senórach: an Irish Colloquy (based on the 12th Century Middle Irish narrative of the same name) was released in October, 2011. This was followed, one month later, by the premiere of Heart of Darkness, a chamber opera in one act with an English-language libretto by artist Tom Phillips based on the novella of the same name by Joseph Conrad, at the Linbury Theatre of the Royal Opera House, London. It received wide critical attention and marked O'Regan's first foray into operatic writing.

2012-17 saw the completion of Suite from Heart of Darkness for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and two North African-influenced projects; Raï, for the Dutch National Ballet, and Chaâbi, commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He was the featured composer for both the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Chamber Choir Ireland) and New Music for a New Age (Washington Chorus). A Celestial Map of the Sky, a new album on the NMC label of orchestral music performed by the Hallé Orchestra, was released, and O’Regan’s first opera, Heart of Darkness, received its North American premiere. Mata Hari, an evening-length ballet commissioned by the Dutch National Ballet, was premiered, issued on DVD/Blu-ray by EuroArts, and subsequently revived for a second month-long run. His work also received performances by the Orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen, Lausanne Symphony Orchestra, and the Alexander String Quartet.

The Phoenix, O'Regan's opera about the life of Lorenzo Da Ponte, commissioned by Houston Grand Opera with a libretto by John Caird, will receive its premiere in April 2019, starring Thomas Hampson in the title role. Other highlights of the 2018/19 season include revival performances of two large-scale concert works, Solitude Trilogy and Mass Observation, by the Vancouver Chamber Choir and Houston Chamber Choir respectively. This season also marks the second year of a three-year appointment as Composer in Residence with the Pacific Chorale.

O’Regan has been appointed to the Fulbright Chester Schirmer Fellowship at Columbia University; a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard; and positions at Trinity and Corpus Christi Colleges in Cambridge, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Yale. He has served on the composition faculty of Rutgers University, and as Senior Advisor to the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. A frequent television and radio broadcaster, O’Regan has written and presented two documentaries for BBC Radio 4: Composing LA and Composing New York. In 2017, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of Pembroke College, Oxford and to the board of Yaddo.
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