Philip Venables’ music is often concerned with violence, politics and speech within concert music and opera. His work has been recently described as “brutally effective” (Times), “brutally exhilarating” (Seen & Heard), “duly playful and occasionally disturbing” (Guardian), “a dark and violent portrait of sexual desire” (SoSoGay.com) and “original and intelligent in both form and content… reminiscent of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle; dripping in inexplicable meaning” (Exeunt Magazine). And most recently, from The Guardian: “Venables’s Illusions, a collaboration with performance artist David Hoyle, batters at the limits of form, emotion and sexuality in a ferocious assertion of LGBT individualism in the face of establishment nihilism and uncertainty – a brilliant, extreme work that grips like a vice and won’t let go.”
Philip’s music has been performed and broadcast internationally. Performers and commissioners include the The Royal Opera, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore Hall, London Contemporary Opera (The Schmürz, with writer Michael Brett), the London Sinfonietta (The Revenge of Miguel Cotto with poet Steven Fowler; Illusions with performance artist David Hoyle), Endymion & EXAUDI (Numbers 76-80 : Tristan und Isolde), Ensemble 10-10 (ANIMA), the Black Dyke Brass Band, Rambert Dance Company, HAU Theater Berlin, Kampnagel Sommerfestival Hamburg and Theater Basel.
In 2016 Philip made his Royal Opera debut in collaboration with director Ted Huffman with 4.48 Psychosis –the first ever permitted adaptation of any of Sarah Kane’s texts. 4.48 Psychosis won the UK Theatre Award for Achievement in Opera and will be revived in 2018. It was universally acclaimed: “Venables proves he’s one of the finest composers around” (Guardian); “He challenges the conventions of opera. Via an array of resources he ambushes and refreshes an old art form.” (Observer); “Experimentation in the service of absolute emotional precision: Venables’ economical work is one of the most exhilarating operas in years, even while it gives voice to some of the darkest thoughts imaginable.” (Spectator).
Other recent projects include Bound to Hurt, a collaboration with Turner-prize-winner Douglas Gordon and singer Ruth Rosenfeld. Forthcoming projects in 2017–2019 include a violin concerto, new version of Illusions for the New Music Biennial 2017, development of a verbatim opera project based on victims’ accounts of rape with Size Zero Opera and a revival of Unleashed with Manchester Opera Project. In 2017 Philip will take a residency at MacDowell colony in New Hampshire. His debut disc of chamber music with words will be released with NMC in 2018.
Philip Venables was born in Chester in 1979 and now spends time in London and Berlin. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Philip Cashian and David Sawer, where he was awarded the DipRAM diploma and the Manson Fellowship in Composition, and at Cambridge University. Philip was awarded an AHRC grant for Ph.D research into speech, violence and music at the Royal Academy of Music from 2012-13, and he was a Soundhub Associate with the LSO at St Luke’s for the 2012-13 season. From 2013–2016 he was Doctoral Composer in Residence with the Royal Opera House and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He is a director of the agency Bright Ivy Ltd.