David Bruce

Born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1970, David Bruce grew up in England and now enjoys a growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. Bruce’s music draws on the wild dances and heart-felt laments of gypsy music, flamenco, klezmer and other folk traditions, as well as having a direct connection to composers like Stravinsky, Janacek, Berio and Bartok who shared similar passions. Often witty and always colourful, pulsing with earthy rhythms, Bruce’s music has a directness rarely heard in contemporary music, but also contains an emotional core of striking intimacy and sensitivity.

Since the premiere of Piosenki (2006) in Carnegie Hall, Bruce’s career in the US has flourished. Carnegie Hall itself has been a huge supporter of Bruce’s music, going on to commission Gumboots (2008), Steampunk (2011) and the forthcoming That Time with You for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor which premieres at the hall in October 2013. In 2009, Dawn Upshaw premiered the song-cycle The North Wind was a Woman commissioned for the gala opening of the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center’s 2009 season. For 2013-14 Bruce is Associate Composer with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, for whom he will write three pieces : a new work for the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut in October 2013; a violin concerto for 2014; and a chamber piece featuring mandolinist Avi Avital for May 2013.

In the UK, recent commissions include Prince Zal and the Simorgh (2012) for the London Philharmonic Orchestra for their BrightSparks series; Fire (2012), one of 20 ’20×12′ commissions celebrating the Cultural Olympiad; and the chamber opera The Firework Maker’s Daughter (2012) co-commissioned by The Opera Group and ROH2 which tours the UK and New York’s New Victory Theatre in Spring 2013.

Other notable recent commissions include a 45 minute chamber work The Given Note (2011) for violinist Daniel Hope together with the David Orlowsky Trio and cellist Vincent Segal, co-commissioned by the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Germany and the Savannah Festival USA; and in 2012, Cut the Rug for Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Cut the Rug is currently being recorded for release on the Sony Classical label later in 2013 and will receive it’s official premiere at Carnegie Hall in October as part of the ensemble’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

Bruce’s love of folk music often leads him to collaborate with musicians who have strong connections with both classical and folk/world traditions, such as accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, mandolinist Avi Avital and clarinettist David Orlowsky. Bruce also enjoys close working relationships with some of the finest musicians of the younger generation including Ensemble ACJW; harpist Bridget Kibbey; the grammy-nominated Metropolis Ensemble in New York; Chroma in the UK; and Art of Elan in San Diego (whose recording of their 2011 commission The Eye of Night was recently released).

Bruce’s work in opera has also attracted considerable attention. A series of short operas for Tete a Tete in London culminated in the Genesis Foundation commission Push! (2006) which was Critic’s Choice for 2006 in both The Telegraph and Classical Music Magazine and received universal critical acclaim. In 2008, Dawn Upshaw instigated the commission for his one-act opera A Bird in Your Ear (2008) for Bard College, NY. After its successful premiere the opera has had performances by New York City Opera as part of the 2009 VOX festival; as a finalist in the National Opera Association’s Chamber Opera competition 2008; and with students at NYU. The New York Times said the opera, “rich with imagined folk tunes, undulant accompaniment patterns and vibrant choral writing, is delicate, tartly tonal and lucidly orchestrated.” 2013 brings Bruce’s eagerly anticipated new chamber opera The Firework Maker’s Daughter to audiences in the US and UK.

Bruce’s music has attracted numerous awards and prizes, including the Lili Boulanger Memorial Prize (2008) and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Competition (1994). He studied at Nottingham University, the Royal College of Music, London, (with Tim Salter and George Benjamin); and completed a PhD in Composition at King’s College, London (1995-9), under the supervision of Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

Complementing his work as a composer, Bruce runs the music and technology company Red Balloon Technology Ltd whose sites include the popular sheet music site 8notes.com and the composers’ site CompositionToday.