Nigel Clarke attended St. John’s Secondary Modern School, Margate, UK, a school aimed at children that would probably not go on to higher education. This could have been an early setback for a musical career, however the school had a strong emphasis on music and in particular brass playing. On leaving school Nigel began his musical career as a military bandsman but a developing interest in composition, stimulated by the New Polish School of composers, took him to the Royal Academy of Music to study with Paul Patterson. Here his striking originality and capacity for hard work were recognised by many significant awards including the Josiah Parker Prize adjudicated by Sir Michael Tippett and the Queen’s Commendation for Excellence – the Royal Academy of Music’s highest distinction, which is awarded to only one student a year and which had never been conferred on a composer before. He has also been elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. In 2008 Nigel was awarded the title of Doctor of Musical Arts by the University of Salford.
In 1997 the United States of America Ambassador (William J. Crowe, Jr.) invited Nigel to join the United States’ International Visitor Leadership Programme sponsored by the US Information Agency. This offered him the unique opportunity to tour the USA in order to observe and experience different aspects of musical culture including jazz, classical and Native American music. This tour culminated in a performance of his work `Samurai’ by the `Presidents Own’ United States Marine Band. As an alumni for the U.S. Embassy flagship exchange program Nigel recently joined the John Adams Society, named after the second President of the United States and the fist American minister to the Court of St. James, (ambassador to Great Britain).
The quality of his composition has been acknowledged on his recent disc CD (Naxos `Nigel Clarke’ 8.570429): “Nigel has built a reputation for music of extraordinary richness and virtuosity. His music is constantly inspired by many different musical languages, and belief in very close collaboration with musicians and ensembles. This leads to extremely brilliant writing, which however physically challenging, is consistently gratifying for players and exciting for audiences. His work `Samurai’ has become a modern day classic and typifies his style of composition, with exuberant and explosive moments contrasting with periods of transcendental beauty”. The French classical music website, Abeille Musique, recently said of Nigel “Without doubt, we have here one of the great European composers of times to come: take good note of his name”.
Nigel has have been working with violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved for over two decades, and this collaboration has resulted in two violin concertos and several works of smaller mediums. The two artists have worked together on many musical projects and educational workshops in Europe and beyond. Nigel’s wind and brass work`Gagarin’ was recently performed by the Volga Professional Wind Orchestra in Saratov, Russia. The concert was sponsored by the Russian Federal Space Agency in celebration of Gagarin’s 1961 orbit and held as part of the cosmonaut’s anniversary celebrations at the site of the Space Museum which bears his name. 2010 saw Nigel’s new epic brass band work `Earthrise’ premiered at the 33rd European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria performed by Luc Vertommen and Brass Band Buizingen.
Nigel was previously Young Composer in Residence at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Composition and Contemporary Music Tutor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, Head of Composition at the London College of Music and Media and Associate Composer to the world famous Black Dyke Mills Band. He has also been guest professor at the Xinjiang Arts Institute in north-west China, Associate Composer to the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, Associate Composer to the Band of HM Grenadier Guards and Visiting Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music. More recently he became Associate Composer to Belgian brass band champions Brass Band Buizingen.
Nigel’s music is extensively played and broadcast internationally, and he has received performances in Argentina, Australia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Norway, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, the United States of America, as well as throughout the European Union. To date Nigel has many works recorded on CD including two critically acclaimed, dedicated discs of his music.
Nigel is published by `Brasswind Publications´, `Maecenas Music´, `Novello & Co´, Peters Edition and `Studio Music Company´.