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Diana Burrell was born in Norwich in 1948. She studied at Cambridge University and now lives in Harwich, Essex. After spending several years as a teacher, she became a free-lance viola player, but gradually concentrated her energies on writing music. Her first piece to receive widespread critical acclaim was the Missa Sancte Endeliente, a 50-minute work written for the 1980 St Endellion Festival. A massive composition for five soloists, semi-chorus, chorus and orchestra, the Missa incorporates settings of Cornish and Latin texts as well as a wide range of compositional techniques from micro tonality to modality. Brought to London for the Spitalfields Festival of 1983, the Missa provided the launching pad for an ongoing series of evermore illustrious commissions and an impressively wide-ranging, adventurous and distinguished body of work.

Burrell’s first major orchestral piece, simply entitled Landscape (1988) has been described as depicting both a wild windswept countryside and a tough urban vista. The use of instruments in their extreme registers is a hallmark of the diversity of orchestral palette the composer puts at her disposal in all her works. Landscape is one of the recent ‘Encore’ winners (an award organised by the Royal Philharmonic Society and BBC Radio 3 and sponsored by the PRS Foundation).

Diana Burrell’s body of work covers the spectrum of compositional achievement from the String Quartet (Gulls and Angels of 1993) to chamber ensemble pieces such as the vividly ritualistic dreamscape Barrow (1991), opera (The Albatross, written in 1987 and premiered to great critical acclaim by Trinity College of Music in June 1997) and of course her dramatic and colourful Symphonies of Flocks, Herds and Shoals (1995-6) which was a commission from the BBC and was premiered in 1997 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has also written many works for young and amateur performers with both respect and imagination, never lowering her compositional sights or blunting the edge of her style.

Recent works include Gold - a Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival commission for Philip Mead and the Royal Northern College of Music Brass Ensemble, Pieces Numbers 80, 81 and 82 for various small ensembles which were commissioned by Queen's College, Cambridge for 'Vigani's Cabinet', and a setting of poems by Emily Dickenson for choir and orchestra entitled And so the Night became... which was premiered in May 2005 by the Bach Choir and the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall. 2007 saw the composition of two unusual chamber pieces. One Man Band for solo accordion doubling piano and percussion was written for Mark Knoop and first performed by him at 'Rational Rec', a series of contemporary music events that took place in the Bethnal Green Working Man's Club, and Paragraph for soprano, violin and electronics was commissioned by the BBC and given its first performance by Loré Lixenberg and David Alberman at the Spitalfields Festival. David and Loré also gave the first performance of Concerto for Violin with Singer and 3 Ensembles at Spitalfields in 2009 conducted by Gregory Rose with the Trinity College of Music Contemporary Music Group. This work was shortlisted for an RPS Award. Among other things, Diana is currently working on The Hours, a major new set of pieces for the organ with various ensembles which is structured around the ancient liturgical 'Hours' of the Church, and is due to be completed in Autumn 2011.

Fresh and vital, her music is uncompromising in its integrity whilst communicating directly to the listener. She has written of her need for ‘strong, rough-edged things, brave disrespectful shapes and sounds...’, as much a reference to her love of modern architecture as a declaration of her compositional creed. She has succeeded in creating a unique, personal language which is both primeval and unequivocally of our time.

Click on titles with links to call up a programme note



Violia Concerto: Das Meer, Landscape and Resurrection
solo viola with orchestra
Temper (2004)
free orchestration
The Four Temperaments (2003)
free orchestration
Flute Concerto (revised 2001 for chamber orchestra)
For solo flute and chamber orchestra - 17'
solo flute, 1111/1111/perc, piano, strings (11111)
Flute Concerto (1997)
3(picc)23(bcl)2/4331/timp.perc/hp/strings - 17'
Soloist plays alto flute, flute, piccolo.
fp: 8 January 1998, William Bennett (flutes), London Schools Symphony Orchestra/John Lubbock, Barbican Hall, London
Ring (1996)
wind orchestra (flexible scoring in 8 parts), 1perc - 5'
first performance: 1 July 1996, Borders Regional Wind Orchestra, European Youth Music Festival, Ishøj, Denmark
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
solo clarinet, 2222(cbn)/2200/perc/strings - 20'
first performance: 14 September 1996, Robert Plane (clarinet), Northern Sinfonia/John Lubbock, Hexham Abbey Festival
Dunkelhvide Månestråler (1996)
Texts from Lille Verden by Tove Ditlevsen (1917-76).
2222/2200/2perc/hp/str, solo contralto and cor anglais - 20'
first performance: 13 October 1996, Barbican Hall, London. City of London Sinfonia, conductor Richard Hickox
Symphonies of Flocks, Herds and Shoals (1995-6)
2 recorders. 4(2picc)4(2ca)34(2cbn)/6331/2perc/ strings (minimum - 40'
first performance: 5 February 1997, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt, Royal Festival Hall, London
Enchaînements (1994)
2 ob, 2 hn, vn, vla (solo group), chimes, strings - 15'
first performance: 12 December 1994, The City of London Sinfonia, London
Viola Concerto
...calling, leaping, crying, dancing...
solo viola, 2222/2200/perc/strings - 20'
first performance: 6 October 1994, Jane Atkins (viola), Orchestra of Saint John's, Smith Square/John Lubbock, Norfolk and Norwich Festival
string orchestra (min.11111) - 8'
first performance: 3 September 1993, COMA, Sheffield
Das Meer, das so gross und weit ist da wimmelt's ohne Zahl, grosse kleine Tiere (1992)
string orchestra (min.44221) - 15'
first performance: 15 October 1992, Orchestra of St John's Smith Square/John Lubbock, London
Resurrection (1992)
2222/2200/perc/strings - 15'
first performance: 21 May 1993, Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Tamas Vasary, Newbury Spring Festival
Scene with Birds (1989)
3333/4331/3perc/strings - 12'
first performance: Norfolk County Youth Orchestra
Landscape with Procession (1988)
2 recorders, 2222/2331/2perc/pf/harp/strings - 12'
Written for BBC TV's The Cry of the Cosmos, Easter 1989
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Lionel Friend
Landscape (1988)
2222/2000/perc/harp/strings (min.44421) - 20'
first performance: Piccadilly Festival Players/Ivor Bolton
Archangel (1987)
2 ob, ca, 3 tpt (concertante group); 3033/4031/00000 - 20'
first performance: ECO Wind & Brass Ensemble/David Parry, Greenwich Festival
Praeludium (1983)
3222/4331/timp/3perc/strings - 12'
first performance: Fulham Symphony Orchestra/Joseph Vandernoot

Solo & Duo
mezzo soprano, violin, electronics
Piece No. 82
solo violin
organ (published by Faber)
Terce (2005)
accordion and organ
first performance: 16 June 2005, Dutch Church, Spitalfields Festival, London. David Titterington, organ, Ian Watson, accordion
Longtemps ce fut l’Eté (2004)
soprano and piano
North Star (2002)
trumpet and organ
Festival (2001)
organ - 10'

first performance: Oundle Festival, Kevin Bowyer, organ
Constellations III (The Little Bear) (1997)
solo piano - 3' - published in ABRSM Spectrum Vol. 2
Constellations I & II (1995)
solo piano - 3' - published in ABRSM Spectrum Vol. 1
The Secrets of the Dark Pool in the Pine Forest (1995)
violin, piano - 3' (ABRSM Grade 5, 1997-2000)
Sequence (1993)
cello, recorded tape - 15'
first performance: 16 June 1993, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford.
Dance project, choreographer Gerry Turvey
Tachograph (1993)
baritone, piano - 15'
Text by Simon Armitage
first performance: 5 May 1993, Stephen Varcoe and Iain Burnside, South Bank Centre, London
Bright Herald of the Morning (1992)
clarinet, piano - 10'
first performance: 28 July 1992, Fiona Cross and Kathryn Page, Shropshire.
Lucifer (1991)
violin, trumpet - 8'
first performance: 2 July 1991, Mecklenburgh Opera, London
Aria (1991)
solo violin - 8'
first performance: 16 November 1991, Bradley Creswick, London
Arched Forms with Bells (1990)
organ - 16'
first performance: 6 August 1990, David Titterington, BBC Proms, London
Lament (1988)
bassoon or clarinet, percussion - 5'
Heron (1988)
cello, piano - 14' first performance: Lowri Blake and Caroline Palmer
Songs for Harvey (1988)
solo violin or viola - 3'


Piece No. 80
violin, piano, keyboard, percussion and electronics
Piece No. 81
violin, recorder, harpsichord, guitar and cello
King shall Bright Ring give in Hall (2003)
Soprano solo, oboe, horn, violin, harp
Gold (2001)
Commissioned jointly by Huddersfield Festival and Thames Valley University, premiered on 28th November 2001 by the Royal Northern Brass Ensemble and Philip Mead
For brass ensemble and piano - 15'
1321 (bass trombone), piano and gongs played by pianist.
Athletes (2000)
Commissioned by Sharp Edge, the new music ensemble of the RPO and 1st performed 29th May 2000 at the Albert Hall, Nottingham.
For 2 part chorus and mixed ensemble - 20'
0000/1010/2Perc, Sarrusaphone or Contrabassoon, strings (00111)
Black. Starlight. Bright. Cinnamon. Earth. (2000)
For ensemble - 12'
1111/1010 Piano, strings (10110)
Double Image (1999)
for ensemble - 15'
flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, fp. 3rd November 1999, Michael Tippett Centre, Bath by Double Image
Ritual Sentences (1999)
For string trio (violin, viola and cello)
Commissioned by the Enesco Trio and fp. 21st April 1999, Wigmore Hall, London
Lucid (1998)
double wind quintet
Earth (1998)
string quartet - 18'
first performance: 31 October 1998, New Zealand String Quartet, Hamilton, New Zealand
Bronze (1997-8)
1(picc)+,1(ca),1(bcl)+, sop.sax+, 1(cbn)+/1+,1+,1,1/ harp+, piano, perc, cimbalom (perc), str (1+,1+,1,1+,1+).[+ = also play bamboo chimes] - 20'
first performance: 20 June 1998, Brunel Ensemble/Christopher Austin, Bristol
Gate (1997)
6vn. 2 va. 2vc. cb - 2'
first performance: 14 April 1997 Guildhall String Ensemble, Wigmore Hall, London
Confession (1996)
any combination of 2 or more instruments - 5'
first performance: 26 May 1996, Chard Festival
Gulls and Angels (1993)
string quartet - 11'
first performance: 12 April 1994, Sorrel Quartet, London
Invocation for Justice (1992)
soprano, clarinet, viola - 2'
first performance: 17 August 1992, Mary Wiegold soprano, The Composers' Ensemble, Dartington
Barrow (1991)
horn, bassoon, cello/drums, electric guitar/drums, piano - 10'
first performance: 19 June 1991, Jane's Minstrels, London
Wind Quintet (1990)
flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon - 15'
first performance: 10 November 1990, Capricorn
Shadow (1988)
May be performed with Io!
2 va. 4 vc. cb. celeste - 8'
first performance: The Orchestra of St John's, Smith Square/John Lubbock
Untitled Composition (1988)
clarinet, cello, piano - 8'
first performance: 20 October 1988, The Mühlfeld Trio
Angelus (1986)
soprano. vc. cb. 2 bells/small gongs - 10'
first performance: A Man, A Woman and A Double Bass
Concertante (1985)
6 vn. 2 va. 2 vc. cb (or string orchestra) - 15'
first performance: Guildhall String Ensemble
Io! (1984)
May be performed with Shadow
3 tpt. 3 trb. strings (min. 64432) - 8'
first performance: Orchestra of St John's, Smith Square/John Lubbock
Pavan (1979)
soprano, baritone, va, vc, pno - 8'
first performance: 1979, Wren Consort, Spitalfields Festival
The Albatross (1987)
opera in 2 acts after story by Susan Hill, libretto by composer.
Duncan Pike - tenor, Hilda Pike - soprano, Ted Flint - tenor, Davey Ward - baritone, Old Beattie - contralto, Alice Flint - mezzo soprano, Esther Ward - mezzo soprano, barmaid - soprano, 4 children, 4 fishermen - 2 tenors, baritone, bass, orchestra: 2(picc)1(ca)2(bhn)1(cbn)/3000/3 perc/strings (min44321) - 90'
first performance: 10-12 July 1997, Trinity Opera Group and Instrumental Ensemble, cond. Christopher Fifield, director Stephen Langridge, Spitalfields Market Opera, London


And so the Night became (2005)
SATB chorus and orchestra
The St. Pancras Evening Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) (2005)
SSATB chorus a cappella
Alleluia (2001)
SATB chorus a cappella
Ave Verum Corpus (1998)
SATB choir - 3'
first performance: 2 May 1998, Allegri Singers/Michael Nicholas, London
Michael's Mass (1997)
Kyrie, Gloria, Gospel Sentences, Sursum Corda, Sanctus & Benedictus, Acclamations, Agnus Dei, Dismissal
Congregational Mass setting, unison voices, organ/piano
first performance: Holy Trinity, Mile End, London
Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (1996)
treble choir, organ - 6'
first performance: 27 April 1996, Norwich Cathedral Choir
Benedicam Dominum (1996)
SATB choir, organ - 7'
first performance: 20 November 1996, Festival of St. Cecilia, London
Come Holy Ghost, our Souls inspire (1993)
SATB choir, organ - 6'
first performance: 27 August 1993, Three Choirs Festival, Worcester
Heil'ger Geist in's Himmels Throne (1993)
choir, organ, percussion - 15'
first performance: 26 September 1993, St Matthew's Church, Northampton
Christo Paremus Cantica (1993)
SATB a cappella choir - 4'
first performance: 24 December 1993, King's College Chapel Choir, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
Night Songs (1991)
Soprano solo, SATB chorus, orchestra 2200/2202, recorders. saxophones (all wind and brass parts may be doubled) 2perc. whistle. 2synth. strings - 30'
first performance: 18 December 1991, London
You Spotted Snakes (1991)
children's voices, fl, cl, vn, vla - 2'
first performance: 21 November 1991, New London Children's Choir/ conductor Ronald Corp, London
Lights and Shadows (1989)
children's unison choir, SATB chorus, recorder group, brass (2322), 2 perc, strings (violas, cellos) - 16'. First Performed: 26 May 1990, London. The Centre for Young Musicians/ Ian Humphris
Hymn to Wisdom (1989)
SATB chorus - 6'
Creator of the Stars of Night (1989)
SATB chorus, cor anglais, organ pedals - 7'
Io Evoe! (1984)
SATB chorus, 3 tpt, 3 trb, strings (min. 64432) - 25'
Recorded for BBC Radio 3 by the BBC Singers and City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
Come and See the Christ-child (1982)
unison choir, piano - 3'
Missa Sancte Endeliente (1980)
5 soloists. SATB chorus. orchestra: 2222/4330/perc/strings - 50'
first performance: 1980 St Endellion Festival, conductor Richard Hickox
Trinity Mass
Unison chorus and organ or piano

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