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Michael Berkeley

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Biography

Michael Berkeley (born 29 May 1948) is a British composer and broadcaster on music.

Early life

His father was the composer Sir Lennox Berkeley. Michael was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral, and he frequently sang in works composed or conducted by his godfather, Benjamin Britten.

He studied composition, singing and piano at the Royal Academy of Music, but it was not until his late twenties, when he went to study with Richard Rodney Bennett, that he concentrated on composition.

Prizes and posts

In 1977 he was awarded the Guinness Prize for Composition; two years later he was appointed Associate Composer to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Berkeley is currently Composer-in-Association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He also acts as Visiting Professor in Composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and was Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival from 1995 to 2004.

Compositions

Berkeley’s compositions include an oboe concerto (1977), an oratorio Or Shall We Die? (libretto by Ian McEwan) (1982), Gethsemani Fragment (1990), an opera Baa Baa Black Sheep (libretto by David Malouf based on the childhood of Rudyard Kipling) (1993), Secret Garden (1997) and The Garden of Earthly Delights (1998). In 2000, Berkeley wrote his second opera, Jane Eyre (libretto also by David Malouf), which was premiered at the Cheltenham Festival by Music Theatre Wales and subsequently toured around the UK. He is currently working on a new chamber opera for 2008, collaborating again with Ian McEwan as librettist.

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