Chris Garrard is a composer whose pieces range from experimental operas to minimalist installations, and from intimate chamber pieces to graphic scores in watercolour paints. He studied music at the University of Durham, where he developed an interest in aesthetics and philosophy, and a desire to compose with new sounds and techniques. During this time, he studied with Martyn Harry, Matthew Shlomowitz and the electroacoustic composer, Trevor Wishart, who all strongly shaped his approach. Last year, he completed his doctorate in composition at the University of Oxford and was passed without corrections.
Chris’s music has been performed at venues including St John’s – Smith Square, The Sage – Gateshead and the Sheldonian Theatre, by ensembles including the London Chamber Orchestra, Oxford Philomusica and Ensemble ISIS. In 2010, he was a joint winner of the LCO: New competition for his piece Larch & Decay and in 2012, his piece Broken Thumbs was selected for performance by Oxford Philomusica. In January 2013, he produced four sold out performances of his chamber opera, The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s bestselling novel.
Chris founded the MASH Centre for Experimental Music at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building in 2009, curating and co-ordinating a series of concerts and events promoting contemporary music and art. This included annual ‘marathon’ concerts, inspired by New York’s Bang on a Can group,. He also founded and directed the MASH Ensemble, who specialised in new and improvised music and gave performances at Modern Art Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum and at Bath International Festival. Chris is also a musicologist and has written on minimalism, indeterminacy and aesthetics. His recent research focussed on the work of the Ukrainian composer, Valentyn Silvestrov, and the German artist, Gerhard Richter, while also drawing upon photography and glaciology.
Chris is a committed environmental campaigner and is an active member of the Art Not Oil coalition. He has written several articles and blogs on the issue of ethical cultural sponsorship and has been involved in various forms of creative campaigning since attending the UN Climate Conference in 2011. Several of his pieces have responded to themes of glaciology, climate change and social justice.