Swayne, Giles (Oliver Cairnes)

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Swayne, Giles (Oliver Cairnes)

Swayne, Giles (Oliver Cairnes), English composer; b. Stevenage, June 30, 1946. He began composing as a teenager, receiving encouragement from his cousin, Elizabeth Maconchy; then pursued training with Lep-pard and Maw at the Univ. of Cambridge (1963-68); subsequently studied piano with Gordon Green and composition with Birtwistle, Bush, and Maw at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1968-71); later attended Messiaen’s classes in composition in Paris (1976-77). In 1982 he visited West Africa to study the music of the Jola people of Senegal and The Gambia. In common with many other British composers of his generation, he resolutely eschewed musical gourmandise in favor of writing music in an avant-garde, yet accessible style.


dramatic: A World Within, ballet for Tape (Stoke-on-Trent, June 2, 1978); Le Nozze di Cherubino, opera (1984; London, Jan. 22, 1985). ORCH.: Orlando’s Music (1974; Liverpool, Feb. 3, 1976); Charades for School Orch. (1975); Pentecost Music (1977; Manchester, April 8, 1981); Sym. for Small Orch. (London, June 1, 1984); Naaotwa Lola (Manchester, Dec. 4, 1984); The Song of Leviathan (London, Oct. 10, 1988). CHAMBER: 4 Lyrical Pieces for Cello and Piano (1970; Aldeburgh, June 16, 1971); 3 string quartets: No. 1 (1971), No. 2 (1977; Manchester, Oct. 30, 1978), and No. 3 (1992-93); Paraphrase on a Theme of Tallis for Organ (1971); Canto for Guitar (1972); Canto for Piano (1973); Canto for Violin (1973); Synthesis for 2 Pianos (1974); Canto for Clarinet (1975); Duo for Violin and Piano (1975); Suite for Guitar (1976); Freewheeling for Viola, Baryton, and Cello (Kuhmo Festival, Finland, July 25, 1980); Canto for Cello (1981); Rhythm-Study I for 2 Xylophone Players and 2 Marimba Players (1982) and II for Percussion Group (1982); A Song for Haddi for Flute, Clarinet, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, and Percussion (Bath Festival, June 4, 1983); into the light for 7 Players (1986); PP for 14 Players (1987); Tonos for Flute, Harp, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1987); Songlines for Flute and Guitar (1987); A Memory of Sky for Brass Quintet (1988). VOCAL: The Good Morrow, cycle of 5 settings of John Donne for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1971); Cry for 28 Amplified Solo Voices (1979; The Hague, Oct. 22, 1982); Count-Down for 16-part Chorus and 2 Percussion Players (1981; Merton Festival, Yorkshire, May 23, 1982); Magnificat for Chorus (1982); god-song for Mezzo-soprano, Flute, Trombone, Cello, and Piano (1985-86); Nunc Dimittis for Chorus and Organ (1986); O Magnum Mysterium for Boy’s Voices and Organ (1986); Veni creator I and II for Chorus and Organ (1987); No Quiet Place for Children’s Voices, String Trio, and Xylophones (1989); No Man’s Land for Chorus and Ensemble (1990); Circle of Silence for 6 Voices (1991); The Song of the Tortoise for Narrator, Children’s Voices, Chorus, and Orch. (1992); The Owl and the Pussycat for Narrator and 7 Instruments (1993).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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