Alison Kay


Alison Kay (b. 1970) first studied composition with Tom Wilson and James Macmillan at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, continuing with Simon Bainbridge and Edwin Roxburgh at the Royal College of Music, where she won many of the major composition prizes. She completed a Masters degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Saxton and has completed a doctorate at Sussex University under the supervision of Martin Butler. In 2004 she was appointed as a professor of composition at the Royal College of Music. Kay's works are widely performed and broadcast and include music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, ballet, contemporary dance and chorus. Kay's compositions have been featured in performances by the BBC singers, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, IXION, Lontano and Tacet Ensemble amongst others and at the Huddersfield, Spitalfields and Brighton Festivals. Recordings include Rat Race performed by the Composers Ensemble on the NMC label and Two piano études  performed by Stephen Gutman. Notable performances have included Dragon  a Brighton Festival commission for the Emperor Quartet and Leon MacCawley and Flux written for the New Music Players, played in the BMIC Cutting Edge Series and subsequently broadcast on Radio 3. Future commissions include a collaborative classical/folk work with the Tacet Ensemble and John Spiers and John Boden, a series of piano études that will be recorded by Julian Jacobson and a clarinet and piano work for a CD by Steve Dummer and Yoko Ono.


'I enjoy the physicality of music. In composition, the potential to craft and shape structures from the most intimate timbral nuance to the most intense, dramatic structural gesture opens endless possibilities. I try to create visceral, three-dimensional music that has the potential to encompass exciting rhythmical impetus, rich timbral and harmonic language, textural shapes and surfaces, and a sense of varying movement and weight through time. I always start from the perspective of the physical properties of instruments and performance spaces. I see the interpretation of my music by performers and listeners as an integral part of the compositional process.'

Alison Kay


'Alison Kay draws ethereal and increasingly animated music from the combination of discrete melodic cells'

Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone


'the slow Goðafoss and the fast Breaking Line, make typically imaginative play with the simple but ingenious idea of varying and extending a continuous piano part via doublings and further shadowings of six other instruments.'

Keith Potter, The Independent