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Diana and Polycarp - Photo © Maria Fowler 2013

Diana Burrell was born in Norwich in 1948. She studied at Cambridge University, afterwards moving to London for 30 years, 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.

Her more recent works include Gold (2001), a bright, virtuosic piece for piano and 7 brass players, the Concerto for Violin with Singer and 3 Ensembles (2009) with its fresh and intense sound world, and the wide-ranging yet often intimate structures of the 8 separate works which make up The Hours (2011). This major set of pieces for the organ (or related instruments such as accordion and harmonium) sets the instrument at the core of various different and unusual chamber ensembles, the whole being structured around the ancient, liturgical 'Hours' of the Church.

Blaze, a 2013 BBC Proms commission for the young Norwegian brass group tenThing was extremely well-received and led to her current piece of work, a commission from the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a large-scale concerto for the whole of their brass section with the rest of the orchestra. This is scheduled to receive its world premiere in 2016.

For the last three years in addition to her compositional work, Diana ran the Harwich Festival of Arts where her bold, imaginative programming with its emphasis on the contemporary and the thought-provoking attracted national acclaim, greatly lifting the profile of the festival. Her own music has been called fresh and vital, 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.

September 2014

Click on titles with links to call up a programme note



The Hours - 1h 58'
8 movements for various ensembles - each may be played separately
1.Vigils - 19' - organ, 2 flutes(doubl. 2 alto flutes), 2 violins, 2 double basses, 2 percussion; 2.Lauds - 11' - organ & electronics; 3.Prime - 8' - cello & accordion; 4.Terce - 12' - organ & accordion; 5.Sext - 12' - harmonium, keyboard, cello, 3 singers (S.Mz.T); 6.None - 16' - 2 bassoons, 2 tubas, 2 perc, organ, 2 double basses; 7.Vespers - 26' - oboe (doubl. c.a. & E flat musette), 2 bassoons, 2 tubas, 2 perc, organ, harmonium, accordion, keyboard, 3 solo voices (S.Mz.T), 2 violins, cello, 2 double basses; 8.Compline - 14' - organ, 2 alto flutes, 1 sop saxophone, 1 player to play 2 'home-made' organs, swanee whistle, maraca, shell-chimes fp: 9 May 2011, Southwark Cathedral, London, performers from the Royal Academy of Music
Concerto for Violin with Singer and 3 Ensembles (2009)
violin solo, soprano solo (also plays bells and other perc)
Ensemble 1: piano, elec keyboard, perc, electronics (pre-recorded CD); Ensemble 2: Rec, hpschd, gtar, cello 1; Ensemble 3: 2 vlns, vla, cello 2
fp: 15 June 2009, David Alberman, violin, Lore Lixenberg, soprano, TCM Contemporary Music Group, Gregory Rose, conductor, Christ Church, Spitalfields, London
Temper (2004)
flexible scoring
'High' wind and brass, 'Low' wind and brass, 'High' strings, 'Low' strings, piano, perc
fp: 19 June 2009, London CoMA Ensemble, Gregory Rose, director, Christ Church, Spitalfields, London
The Four Temperaments (2003)
flexible scoring
Minimum forces: 4 'high' woodwinds (conductor to allocate parts), sax (pref sop or alto), tpt, hn, tbn, 4 perc, pno duet, keyboard, 3 vlns, vla, vc, db
fp: 31 May 2003, CoMA, Assembly Rooms, Bath
Flute Concerto (revised 2001 for chamber orchestra)
For solo flute and chamber orchestra - 17'
solo flute, 1(doubl.picc/swanee whistle)1(doubl.ratchet)1(doubl.bcl/flexatone)1(doubl.sanctus bells)/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 and brass 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)/2200/1perc/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. 3(picc)+picc.3(ca)+ca.3(cbn)+cbn/6331/4perc/ strings (min - 40'
first performance: 5 February 1997, BBC Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt, Royal Festival Hall, London
Enchaînements (1994)
2 ob, 2 hn, strings (double bass player doubling chimes) - 15'
first performance: 12 December 1994, The City of London Sinfonia, London
Viola Concerto
...calling, leaping, crying, dancing...
solo viola, 2(2picc).2.1+bcl.1+cbn/2200/1perc/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)
2(2picc)2(ca)2(Eb)2(Cbn)/2200/1perc/strings - 15'
first performance: 21 May 1993, Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Tamas Vasary, Newbury Spring Festival
Scene with Birds (1989)
3(picc)3(ca)3(bcl)3/4331/3perc/strings - 12'
first performance: Norfolk County Youth Orchestra
Landscape with Procession (1988)
2 recorders, 2(picc)222/2331/2perc/pf/harp/strings - 12'
Written for BBC TV's The Cry of the Cosmos, Easter 1989
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Lionel Friend
Landscape (1988)
2(2 doubl. tenor rec)or + 2 ten rec.2(2ca).2.2(cbn)/2000/1perc/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
Abstract 1
solo piano - 5'
Sing, Friends, Sing to the Honour of the Lord (2014)
solo voices: alto, 2 tenor, baritone, bass - 10'
3 Native American Blessings (2014)
soprano and piano - 4'
Gaelic Blessing (2014)
soprano and piano - 3'
One Man Band (2014)
accordion doubl. piano and perc (or 2 or 3 separate players!) - 6'
Tempera (2004)
solo organ (UMP's Organworks!)
soprano, violin, electronics (pre-recorded CD)

fp: June 2007, Lore Lixenberg and David Alberman, Spitalfields Festival, London
Piece No. 82
solo violin, vln 1, vln 2, vla, vc - any number of strings, but group should balance; any number of perc - no skills required!
fp: 18 March 2006, Vigani's Cabinet Project, Farran Scott, director, Queen's College, Cambridge
Fragments 1 and 2
solo organ (published by Faber)
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
solo piano - published in ABRSM Spectrum Series
trumpet and piano - to be published in ABRSM Spectrum Series
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'
fp: Lowri Blake and Caroline Palmer, Assembly House, Norwich
Songs for Harvey (1988)
solo violin or viola - 3'


brass ensemble - 8'
BBC Proms Commission, fp: 10 August 2013, Cadogan Hall, London, tenThing, Tine Thing Helseth, director
organ, cello & percussion - 10'
Piece No. 80
violin, piano, keyboard, percussion and electronics
fp: 20 October 2005, decibel, Ed Bennett, director, BMIC Cutting Edge Series, The Warehouse, London
string quartet
publ. Boosey & Hawkes as part of a series of easy quartets
Piece No. 81
violin, recorder, harpsichord, guitar and cello
fp: 18 March 2006, Vigani's Cabinet Project, Farran Scott, director, Queen's College, Cambridge
King shall Bright Ring give in Hall (2003)
Soprano solo, oboe, horn, violin, harp
fp: 17 July 2003, Jane Manning and Endymion, Purcell Room, London
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'
horn, trombone, sarrusophone doubling contra-bassoon, viola, cello, double bass, any unspecified treble and bass instruments (War Cries)
6 separate pieces that can be performed separately and in any order: Ritual, War Cries 1 and 2, Weights, Hurdles, Trapeze
Black. Starlight. Bright. Cinnamon. Earth. (2000)
For ensemble - 12'
fp: 15 July 2000, Members of NYOGB, Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
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)
1(picc)1(ca)1(bcl)1/1000 - 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


O Joyful Light (2011)
SATB chorus (text Phos Hilaron)
written for 'Choirbook for the Queen'
And so the Night became (2005)
SATB chorus and orchestra
tpt in C, 1perc, 1timp, strings
fp: 11 May 2005, The Bach Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, David Hill, conductor, Royal Festival Hall, London
The St. Pancras Evening Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) (2005)
SSATB chorus a cappella
Alleluia (2001)
SATB chorus a cappella
fp: 5 May 2001, Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse, conductor, St John's Smith Square, London
Ave Verum Corpus (1998)
SATB choir - 3'
first performance: 2 May 1998, Allegri Singers/Michael Nicholas, London
Michael's Mass (1997)
Kyrie, Gloria, Gospel Acclamations, Sursam Corda, Sanctus & Benedictus, Eucharistic Prayers, 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)
SATB 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 2020/2202, 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'
text from 'All desires known' by Janet Morley.
fp: June 1989, Dutch Church, London, David Titterington, conductor
Creator of the Stars of Night (1989)
SATB chorus, cor anglais, organ pedals - 7'
fp: 1989, Norwich Cathedral Choir, Michael Nicholas, conductor, Norwich Cathedral
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
Kyrie, Gloria, Gospel Acclamations, Sursam Corda, Sanctus & Benedictus, Acclamations, Agnus Dei, Dismissal
Congregational Mass setting, unison voices, organ/piano
fp: Holy Trinity, Mile End, London
Two Blessings
SATB choir
publ. Novello

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