Biography

Alan Parsons was born in 1931 in Watford, Hertfordshire, but has lived most of his life in Essex. He grew up in Brentwood, moved to Walton-on-the-Naze in 1967 and to Colchester in 1979. After school and National Service in the RAF he took a bachelor’s degree in music at Durham University and a post-graduate diploma in Education at Goldsmiths’ College, London. After teaching in various secondary schools Alan returned to Durham in the early 1970s to take a Master’s degree, working with David Lumsdaine, specialising in twentieth century Composition and Analysis.

Having done some part-time lecturing for the Extra-Mural Department of London University Alan became a freelance teacher and musician on moving to Colchester.  He continued to lecture on the Diploma course when the Extra-Mural Department was taken over by Birkbeck College. For a time Alan taught composition at Woodbridge School in Suffolk as well as teaching privately. A highlight of his week at this time was the four hours spent every Saturday morning at the Junior Music School at Colchester Institute where he remained for seventeen years. On retiring in 1996 Alan became a governor at Kendall School.  

Composition has been a major interest since Alan was a teenager, and among his teachers, apart from David Lumsdaine, were Anthony Milner, Iain Hamilton and Justin Connolly. During the 1980s he made a detailed study of Stockhausen’s music, registering as a PhD student at Goldsmith’s College, London and working mainly with Hugh Davis.

In 1984, together with fellow composer Eric Hudes (see below), Alan set up the composers’ co-operative Colchester New Music. CNM gave regular concerts of mainly new music in collaboration with Essex University, Colchester Sixth Form College and Long Melford Music Society. The most lasting collaboration was with Colchester Institute. Their annual New Music Days featured such internationally well known groups as Gemini, the Composers’ Ensemble and New Noise. In the 1990s CNM formed its own performing group, the Since Eric’ death in 2007 Alan has co-operated with locally based composers Alan Bullard, Julia Usher and Stuart Russell. Stuart took over as Director of CNM when Alan stepped down in 2013 and has since been superseded by Julia Usher.

Most of Alan’s recent music consists of chamber music, some with voice, composed for ensembles performing at CNM concerts, but he has also written music for students and amateurs. His large-scale works include 4 Symphonies and 2 Violin Concertos, the first of which has been performed, in a version for violin and piano, by Beth Spendlove and Timothy Carey. There is also a 3-act chamber opera based on the biblical character Hosea.

[Biography from the Composer's website]


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Alan G. Parsons