Joe Cutler’s music has been described as “propulsive” (BBC Music Magazine), “alluring” (Scotsman), “neurotic” (Re-Diffusion) and “the best thing to come out of Neasden since Twiggy” (Gramophone).
His music has been performed in over 30 countries and on 6 continents including performances at venues such as Bang-on-a-Can Music Marathon (New York), Gaudeamus Music Week (Amsterdam), Opera City (Tokyo), Musik Monat (Basle). Since the late 1990s he has spent a considerable amount of time in the Netherlands, working with such groups and performers as Orkest de Ereprijs, Orkest de Volharding, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Harry Sparnaay, Annelie de Man and Tomoko Mukaiyama. Whilst in the UK he has worked particularly closely with Darragh Morgan, Mary Dullea, Robin Michael, Sarah Leonard and Noszferatu (an ensemble which he co-directs).
In recent years he has also written a number of orchestral pieces and has worked recently with the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Swan and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. He has worked both in the concert hall and outside, including with visual artists such as Tom Dale, Jaap Drupsteen and Gary Ward and has written music for the National Theatre, London. Since 2000 he has taught at Birmingham Conservatoire where he is currently Head of Composition.
In June 2008 a portrait CD of his works was released on NMC and was one of Gramophone Magazine’s Top 20 Releases of the Year. He also won the 2008 British Composer Award in the chamber music category for Folk Music, commissioned by the Smith Quartet.
“This is an essential purchase: Cutler may not make contemporary music loveable again, but he does make it unignorable and that is what really matters.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2008
Commissions and Performances
Gonzalez – 2007
Gonzalez is the fifth piece in a series of based on the first name or surname of fictional or non-fictional people. The piece is written for string orchestra with solo violin and flute concertante parts (inspired by the fantastic playing of OOTS’s leader David le Page and principal flautist Diane Clark) and is in three movements. The first movement, a kind of rough street music, runs directly into the second which forms the main body of the piece. This movement consists of a number of fast-moving “riffs” which draw harmonic material from one of Bach’s Sinfonias. The final movement is far more reflective and calm. The piece lasts 13 minutes and was written between November 2006 and March 2007.
Music for Sunflowers – 2009
Music for Sunflowers is the second in a series of works for a solo string instrument and string orchestra following on from the far darker Music for Cello and Strings (2005) (which was released last June on NMC performed by Robin Michael (cello) and the BBC Concert Orchestra). The piece is less a concerto, more a lyrical piece in which the orchestra generally accompanies the melodic explorations of the solo viola part . It consists of two contasting movements with the first being lyrical, the second being fast before a final fleeting postlude.
Movement one is essentially one long expanisve melody that moves to and fro between the soloist and the ensemble, sometimes sunnier and sometimes darker on mood. The second movement is bright and dance-like, with the viola leading the ensemble forwards at quite a relentless pace. At the centre of the movement is a frantic and wild cadenza and at the very end of the movment there is a very brief postlude that brings back a recollection of the melodic material of the first movement. It was written during the winter of 2008/9 and the images of sunflowers were a reminder of the coming spring.
Other works include composition projects with Birmingham conservatoire students which premiered at the ’5 shorts’ series in 2012-13 and ’4 shorts’ series will will begin in October 2013.