Born in London, Michael Zev Gordon is a composer of highly crafted, powerfully expressive works, writing for a wide range of genres. Influences from his wide range of teachers — Holloway, Knussen, Donatoni, Andriessen and Woolrich — have coalesced into a subtle, individual voice, characterized by richly varied musical colours, ideas and gestures — the tonal and atonal happily rub shoulders in his work — always at the service of larger goals. The relationship between lyrical, yearning lines and contemplative spaces is key to his music. Memory has been a recurring subject, and a number of his works have quoted fragments from the music of others.
Gordon’s music has been performed by many leading ensembles, including commissions for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta and Britten Sinfonia. Soloists include Carolin Widmann, Huw Watkins, Nicholas Daniel, Toby Spence, Richard Watkins and Alina Ibragimova. He also enjoys writing for choir — involving among others the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, New London Chamber Choir and the BBC Singers — and has twice won the choral category of the British Composer Awards. The second of these was for Allele for 40 voices, a work written on the subject of genes, in collaboration with the poet Ruth Padel and scientists from King’s College London. Other awards include a Prix Italia for his radiophonic work A Pebble in the Pond, with the author Eva Hoffman; while On Memory, an NMC portrait disc of piano music, was in The Times top 10 contemporary CDs in 2009. A second portrait disc, of chamber music, on Resonus Classics, is due for release in 2018, and features the Fidelio Trio and clarinetist Julian Bliss.
Gordon is also strongly committed to working with students, amateur and younger players. He has led composition teaching on the Contemporary Music for Amateurs (CoMA) summer school, and has for three years been Director of the Cheltenham Festival of Music Composer Academy; Joshi’s Dance was included in the ABRSM grade 3 violin syllabus of 2012-15 and he has contributed to a number of other publications of music for amateurs, including Spectrum. Gordon has long taught composition in higher education — at the universities of Southampton and Durham, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, and has also been invited to work with composers and performers in a number of institutions internationally, including Juilliard, Vanderbilt University and Antwerp Conservatorium. Since 2012, he has been Professor of Composition at the University of Birmingham.