Short Bio

Joby Talbot, Composer

Joby Talbot was born in Wimbledon in 1971. He studied composition privately with Brian Elias and at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College before completing a Master of Music (Composition) at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Simon Bainbridge.

Talbot’s diverse output has included a trumpet concerto for Alison Balsom and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Desolation Wilderness; a 60-minute a cappella choral journey along the Camino de Santiago for Nigel Short’s Tenebrae (Path of Miracles, 2005); arrangements of songs by Detroit rock duo The White Stripes alongside existing works for Wayne McGregor’s Chroma (The Royal Ballet, 2006); and, as a co-production with the National Ballet of Canada, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (2011), the first full-length narrative ballet score to be commissioned by The Royal Ballet in 20 years.

He has also written the madrigal The Wishing Tree (The King’s Singers, 2002), the orchestral Sneaker Wave (BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 2004) and an arrangement of Purcell’s Chacony in G minor for the BBC Proms (BBC Symphony Orchestra, 2011). Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity was commissioned in 2012 for the Philharmonia Orchestra’s interactive digital installation, Universe of Sound, as an addition to Holst’s The PlanetsTide Harmonic (2009), a work for large ensemble, began life as the score for Eau by choreographer Carolyn Carlson and CCN Roubaix. Other significant works written or adapted for dance include Fool’s Paradise (Christopher Wheeldon and Morphoses, 2007), an arrangement of Talbot’s 2002 silent film score The Dying Swan; Genus (Paris Opera Ballet, 2007); Entity (Wayne McGregor and Random Dance, 2008); and Chamber Symphony for Chamber by choreographer Medhi Walerski (Residentie Orkest/Nederlands Dans Theater and Norwegian Opera and Ballet, 2012).

Talbot has considerable experience writing for the screen, including BBC Two’s comedy series The League of Gentlemen and feature films The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Son of Rambow (2007), Franklyn (2008) and Closed Circuit (2013). For Hunky Dory (2011), he developed orchestral arrangements of pop songs with the film’s young musicians, alongside writing the largely electronic score.

In 2013, Talbot premiered Genus Quartet with the Calder Quartet, Meniscus with the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, and a new version of Tide Harmonic for Christopher Wheeldon and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as seeing international revivals of Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandChamberChromaPath of Miracles and Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity. In 2014 Talbot will premiereThe Winter’s Tale, his second full-length narrative score for The Royal Ballet and National Ballet of Canada in collaboration with Christopher Wheeldon, and will begin work on a new one-act piece for Dallas Opera, to premiere in 2015.

Full-length Bio

Joby Talbot’s compositional aesthetic threads through his classical and concert works; scores for film and television; and collaborations with major contemporary choreographers.

Talbot studied composition privately with Brian Dennis and Brian Elias, prior to receiving tuition from Simon Bainbridge at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A 1997 commission from the BBC Philharmonic resulted in Luminescence for string orchestra, quickly followed by the percussion and chamber ensemble piece Incandescence, initially written for the Brunel Ensemble and toured in 1999 by Evelyn Glennie and the London Sinfonietta, for whom Talbot went on to write Minus 1500 in 2001. Talbot’s first work for the BBC Proms was 2002’s à cappella The Wishing Tree for The Kings’ Singers; subsequently, the Proms commissioned Sneaker Wave (2004) for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and an arrangement of Purcell’s Chacony in G Minor (2011) for the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In 2004, Talbot was named Classic FM’s first Composer In Residence, a project that culminated in the 2005 release of the album Once Around the Sun. Also in 2005, Nigel Short’s exceptional choral ensemble Tenebrae premiered Path Of Miracles, another à cappella work of four movements, which describes the ancient Christian pilgrimage across northern Spain from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. In 2006, Talbot completed the trumpet concerto Desolation Wilderness for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Turku Philharmonic orchestras, conducted by JoAnn Falletta and performed by acclaimed soloist Alison Balsom. The piece received its North American premiere, by former Chicago Symphony principal Craig Morris, in August 2009 at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.

Works for smaller ensembles have included Blue Cell for the Apollo Sax Quartet; Mandala for six harps; Motion Detector for cellist Maya Beiser; and Manual Override for the T’ang Quartet.

The latter two pieces, along with a further two of Talbot’s, were chosen by Royal Ballet resident choreographer Wayne McGregor for his 2008 work Entity with Random Dance, of which there has been over 85 performances worldwide. Talbot and McGregor had collaborated previously on Chroma for the Royal Ballet, which garnered the South Bank Show Award for Dance and an Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production; and, in the same year, on Genus for the Paris Opera Ballet, for which Talbot produced an electro-acoustic score in collaboration with LA electronic music producer Deru.

For a third 2008 dance collaboration, with Carolyn Carlson and the Orchestra National de Lille, Talbot wrote the full-length Tide Harmonic, now available on Signum Classics. In 2007 and 2008, Talbot’s The Dying Swan was choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon for Fool’s Paradise and performed by Wheeldon’s company Morphoses at Sadler’s Wells and NY City Center in successive seasons. In February 2011, Wheeldon and Talbot premiered their full-length ballet of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland for The Royal Ballet, the score for which was the first of its kind to be commissioned by the company in 20 years.

Talbot’s work for film and television began in 1998 with his theme and score for British comedy series The League of Gentlemen, for which he was awarded the Royal Television Society Award for Best Title Music. In 2005 he scored the feature-length The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, as well as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy directed by Garth Jennings, with whom he subsequently worked on the 2008 film Son of Rambow. Other recent film scores include Penelope, Franklyn and Is Anybody There?, and during 2010-11, Talbot both scored and developed song arrangements with the young musicians in the recently released British independent film Hunky Dory.

Commissions from the British Film Institute, for silent films The Lodger (1999), premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, and The Dying Swan (2001) have been widely performed and adapted to other purposes.

As an arranger, Talbot has worked with numerous contemporary pop musicians, including Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Air, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy, Travis, and Ute Lemper, and with record producer Nigel Godrich. Talbot himself acted as producer as well as arranger on the XL Recordings album Aluminium, a limited-edition collection of songs by The White Stripes, arranged by Talbot for chamber orchestra.

Talbot has also composed works for band, including 2003’s The Watchers, written for his group Billiardman and incorporating electro-acoustic instrumentals alongside speech samples.