Pritchard was born in 1948, started composing at the age of
twelve, and in 1966 entered the Royal Scottish Academy of
Music where he studied the 'cello and composition.
During his student years he wrote a Viola Concerto,
and a number of works that still receive regular performances,
most notably Music for Doublebass & Harp (included
on a portrait CD on the Sargasso label), and Five
Miniatures for Solo Violin.
After a short period as Director of Music at Salisbury
Cathedral School he worked as a freelance 'cellist in London,
and was then employed by the BBC, firstly as an orchestral
'cellist, and later to be the subject of a documentary film,
Young Composer, for which he was commissioned to write Spring
a brief period he divided his time between composing and
working as a ‘cellist, but in the late 1970s, after
performances of Objects In Space and Mercurius
at London's South Bank brought his work to the attention of a
wider public, he decided to commit himself exclusively to
composition and conducting. Since then much of Pritchard's compositional activity has
been based outside the UK.
1979 Nephalauxis was performed at the Warsaw Autumn
was the beginning of a fruitful musical relationship with many
Polish musicians and festivals that was to develop over the
following decade, culminating in his being a Featured
Composer alongside Lutoslawski at the International New Music
Week held in Southampton. Several of his works were performed at the festival,
including the première by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
of the major orchestral piece La Settima Bolgia.
1982 he founded Uroboros Ensemble which includes some of
Britain's leading instrumentalists, and since then he has
composed several pieces for the group, including Moondance,
Lollay-Lollay, Chamber Concerto, Madrigal, and Features
and Formations. As
their conductor he continues to perform and broadcast with
them in Britain and abroad, and as their Artistic Director has
commissioned several new works, and introduced much unfamiliar
music to British and other audiences in Europe.
the early 1990s Pritchard has enjoyed an ongoing association
with leading instrumentalists based in Switzerland (mostly in
Basel) for whom he has composed several substantial pieces: Janus,
Wayang, Break Apart, Demise (which involved him for the
first time in electronics), culminating in the 'cello concerto
The Fruit of Chance and Necessity which was performed
in Basel at the 2004 ISCM World New Music Days.
His light-hearted theatrical birthday tribute to the
Basel Percussion Trio Das Mysterium der Heiligen
Dreifatligket was incorporated into La Revue Burlesque by
the famous Teatro Dimitri which toured in numerous countries
in the late 1990s. In
2008, to celebrate Pritchard's sixtieth birthday, the Basel
Symphony Orchestra promoted a concert which, included two of
his works, and in 2009 the bassoon quartet Quadriga toured
Conflux extensively in Switzerland.
In 2015 the percussion ensemble Decibells commissioned Earthcrust
II, and in 2016 Ensemble Ö! gave a substantial portrait
concert in Chur which included five of his works.
Pritchard has also conducted Swiss groups including The
Basel Soloists touring Britain and Canada, and Ensemble
Interplay in Italy.
has also figured prominently in Pritchard's career.
In 2003 he founded the Reggello International Festival
of Contemporary & Classical Music in Tuscany, and as
Artistic Director invited ensembles and soloists from many
parts of the world to participate, often programming music
which is seldom heard in Italy.
He also directed the RIF Composers' Competition, hosted
by the festival. In 2008, to mark his sixtieth birthday, a major concert
series in Florence selected Pritchard's music for performance
alongside the work of Elliott Carter, whose hundredth birthday
was being celebrated; in subsequent years the same promoters
continued to include Pritchard's work regularly in their
summer concert series. Other
significant performances in Italy include Nightfall,
commissioned by Ex Novo Ensemble under Claudio Ambrosini and
performed in Venice in 2011.
the early years of this century Pritchard has received a
considerable number of commissions and performances in Germany
and Austria, including Song for Icarus, Ariel Dreaming,
Colouring In and Gravity.
Subsequently, his music has been represented at
numerous German festivals and concert series, including
Musikfabrik in Cologne, several festivals in Berlin (the home
of Pritchard's main publisher, Verlag Neue Musik) and other
German cities from Thuringia to the Rhineland.
Portrait concerts have been given in the Austrian city
of Salzburg by the Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik,
the piano trio Res being specially composed for the
occasion, and repeated at the Wien Modern festival.
was Pritchard's 70th birthday year, an occasion marked
extensively in Germany. The new orchestral piece Forest was premiered in
Weimar by the Jenaer Philharmonie under Markus Frank, having
been commissioned by the Weimar Spring Days for Contemporary
Music, a festival to which, since 2008, Pritchard has returned
regularly, as composer, conductor and competition judge.
There were further birthday celebrations in Germany,
with events in Bonn, Essen, Cologne, Duisburg, Berlin,
Mannheim and Erfurt; these included performances of the
specially commissioned works Bagatelle, Realms Apart
and Quintet. Beyond Germany there were notable
celebratory events in Bergen, Norway, in Daegu, S Korea, and
in London, including a substantial portrait concert of nine
pieces, performed by Pritchard's own group, Uroboros Ensemble.
music is performed around the world, and has been represented
at major international festivals such as Warsaw Autumn, Wien
Modern, Huddersfield, ISCM World Music Days, International New
Music Week, Weimarer Frühjahrstage für zeitgenössische
Musik, Daegu Contemporary Music Festival (S Korea), in Berlin
at the Zepernicker Randspiele, Klangwerkstatt, Pyramidale,
Potsdam Intersonanzen and numerous others in Europe and
beyond. It has
been performed in many European countries, in the USA, Canada,
China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and of
course in Britain. It has also been widely broadcast, often under his own
direction, on many radio and television networks, including
the BBC, who commissioned
The Firmament of Time in 2008 for performance by the
BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other international commissions have included Harmoniemusik
for the Dutch group Orkest 'de ereprijs', In the Silence of
Turned Earth for soprano and violin soloists with string
orchestra for the Sofia Soloists in Bulgaria, Kommos
for Ensemble Eclat of S Korea, and Nighfall for Ex Novo
Ensemble of Venice.
2013, along with his friend, composer Andrea Cavallari,
Pritchard founded London Ear, a festival of contemporary
music. It has
presented performers and composers from many countries, and
also included the world premieres of Pritchard's Three
Songs of Mass and Motion and Evolution, performed
by the London Sinfonietta.
2008 Pritchard has taught composition at Trinity Laban
Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, which conferred on
him the title of 'Professor' in 2017.
As a teacher and lecturer he has been invited to many
academic institutions, including The Royal Academy of Music,
The Birmingham Conservatoire, The Basle Conservatoire, The
Eastman School of Music and several universities in Britain
and American. He
has also taught composition extensively to private students
and in workshops in Britain and abroad.
He has written, introduced and participated in
programmes for BBC Radio 3, and has contributed articles and
reviews to a variety of musical publications.
© R. Whitson, 2018