Joanna Bailie was born in London in 1973 and has been living in Brussels since 2001. In 1995, with a scholarship from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, she moved to Holland where she took private composition lessons with Richard Barrett, in addition to attending courses at the Institute of Sonology in the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. In 1999 she won a fellowship to study composition at the University of Columbia, New York where she completed her Masters. Two pieces, Magnifications Matrix 1 and Waning were selected by the jury of the Gaudeamus Competition in 1998 and 1999 respectively. In 2001 she was selected by a jury at IRCAM in Paris to take part in their computer music course. Her music has been performed in both the UK and abroad by performers such as Ensemble Musikfabrik, The Nieuw Ensemble, Apartment House, The London Sinfonietta and Orkest de Volharding. She has been commissioned by such festivals as the Venice Biennale (in 2001) and Huddersfield (in 2004) and has had work presented at the Borealis and Ultima festivals in Norway, the Transit Festival in Belgium and SPOR in Denmark. In February 2007 she created On and Off, a piece for radios and CD players, as part of the first New Rational Music event at Rational Rec in London . Her string quartet appears on the 4th CD of the London Sinfonietta Jerwood Series. Over the past few years she has become increasingly involved in collaborative work. She has formed an artistic partnership with German scenographer Christoph Ragg with whom she makes installations and multimedia performances and in May 2006 she provided the electronic soundtrack for choreographer Brice Lerouxs Quantum Quintet at the KunstenFESTIVALdesArts a production that is still touring. Together with the Australian composer Matthew Shlomowitz, she is the founder and artistic director of Ensemble Plus-Minus.
'Over the past few years I have been concerned with two simple formal concepts, the opposition of extremes and the permutation of the similar. Combinatorial procedures and the rationalization of musical parameters provide the basic means for organization and variation. Relatively complicated material is often presented in sharply defined forms and pieces divided into short movements. In some ways my music pays a passing, though rather oblique, tribute to Baroque forms, and in a more tangible way has been influenced by composers such as Tom Johnson and Morton Feldman and the artist Sol Le Witt. Perhaps my ultimate goal is to try to explore what it is to set limitations when writing a piece, especially in a contemporary context where the possibilities are seemingly infinite.'
'...English composer Joanna Bailie's 'Charh'-a bridge between stark modernism and cyclical composition. Subtle percussion-soft whumps from a big bass drum; gentle gongs-melted with rumbling, overarching piano chords. Sections of near-silence, so well controlled that you could hear the creaking of leather shoes, alternated with thickly textured parts where the composer overlapped similar material to blur harmonies.'
(on Charh, the New Zealand Listener 05/2002)
'Joanna Bailie creates variations on breathing patterns in Intermittence (2005). Regularly alternating loud and soft chords sound fragile, delicate, like a room full of satisfied, snoring, cuddly monsters. *Bailie* has clearly taken De Volhardings renowned, loud-copper sound the least seriously. Successfully: she wrote the most exciting piece of the evening.'
(NRC Handelsblad 25/02/06)