Composer in Residence

We are very pleased to be working with composer Jay Richardson as our composer in residence for the 2016/17 Cambridge Classical Concert Series, the 30th Anniversary season.

Cambridge Corn Exchange began working with Jay last year when he composed laulan, a piece inspired by Finnish folk song and the work of Sibelius, which was performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and young Cambridgeshire Music players. For this Classical Series, Jay will be composing a piece for artist in residence, the trumpeter Alison Balsom, for her recital on 21 Febrary, and working with her on our education programme.

Jay Richardson

Jay Richardson began his musical education as a chorister at Jesus College, Cambridge, and has since continued to perform as a baritone in operas by Britten, Mozart and Menotti. He has studied piano with Ruth McIntyre, Shelagh Sutherland and Julian Trevelyan, and composition with Jeffery Wilson at the Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He was an Aldeburgh Young Musician from 2010 to 2015. Since then his work has been performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and by such artists as Fabien Gabel, Esther Yoo, Julian Trevelyan and Vladimir Ashkenazy. He currently reads Music as a second year undergraduate and organist at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Jay Richardson said "I am delighted to announce that I will be Composer in Residence at Cambridge Corn Exchange for the 2016/17 season! Some tremendous projects are underway, beginning with a new work for Alison Balsom’s recital in February. I will be the first ever Composer in Residence and hope that Cambridge Live continues its impressively forward-thinking commitment to new music and to creative innovation."

Create programme

Our work with Jay Richardson is part of our education programme, Create, whch is at the heart of the Cambridge Classical Concert Series. We are passionate about providing a platform for young aspiring musicians to kickstart their careers. We also offer young musicians the opportunity to perform alongside and learn from the world class musicians that we bring to Cambridge. Find out more.

Photo: Jay Richardson (c) Joe Binder


Andrew Burton talks to Jay Richardson

ANDREW BURTON:  What is your earliest musical memory?

JAY RICHARDSON:  My grandfather used to play a lot of Mark Knopfler and Pat Metheny, so that's what I grew up listening to. Later I started singing English choral music and playing Beethoven, but the pioneers of 80s jazz fusion have stayed with me and I still listen to them now. 

What made you want to become a composer?

I’ve never wanted to do anything else really. It's extremely hard work and really emotionally draining but at the same time there's nothing in the world like hearing your music performed by a top professional artist or orchestra. I'm addicted to that feeling and I'll keep writing as long as there are players to work with. 

Apart from studying here, what other connections do you have with Cambridge?

I went to school at Comberton Village College and Hills Road and I've lived here since I was seven. I know the youth music scene pretty intimately - Cambridge Youth Opera, Cambridge Youth Music, the college choirs, playing chamber music with my friends - and I've done quite a bit of punting so I like to think I'll always be a little bit Cambridge...

What else does your role as Corn Exchange composer in residence involve?

Raising the profile of new music in Cambridge generally, with the help of an amazing support structure at the Corn Exchange! I'm so incredibly lucky to be working with Steve Bagnall and his team and so, so excited about showing the world what we've created along with Lin Hetherington and Cambridgeshire Music.

What ambitions do you have as a composer?

I want to make something that really gets people going and involves everyone in the social process of music-making. I don't know what that will be yet but a heart-shakingly loud brass piece for 70 young players and Alison Balsom sounds like a good place to start!

Cambridgeshire Music has played a vital role in nurturing musicians throughout the county for many years.  I spoke with Lin Hetherington, Deputy Head of Cambridgeshire Music, and asked her:

ANDREW BURTON:  Tell me about Jay Richardson’s new composition Distraction.

LIN HETHERINGTON:  It’s a huge piece and on stage there will be about 70 players from Cambridgeshire Music, a wide range of ages and more young people than adults.  Distraction is a piece for massed brass instruments with differentiated parts to suit beginners, intermediate and more advanced players. There is a solo part for Alison Balsom and lower brass is featured in order to encourage the take up of these rarer instruments.