Journals Higher Education

Gabriel Jackson

‘Prominent among his British contemporaries by reason of a prolific output and engaging style, Gabriel Jackson is now enjoying much attention by some of the nation's finest choirs. Jackson is a master at turning a memorable phrase; a motif or pattern grasps the listener and is immediately appealing.’
Philip Barnes, Choral Journal (US)

‘He knows he has something to say, and he says it with directness and clarity.’
The Times

Gabriel Jackson was born in Bermuda in 1962. After three years as a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, Jackson studied composition at the Royal College of Music, first in the Junior Department with Richard Blackford and later with John Lambert, gaining his BMus in 1983. While at the College he was awarded the R.O. Morris Prize for Composition in 1981 and 1983, and in 1981 he also won the Theodore Holland Award.

His music is regularly performed, recorded and broadcast worldwide. His works have been presented at many festivals in the UK and beyond, including Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Spitalfields, Haarlem Choir Biennale, Festival Vancouver, the Sydney Spring Festival and the BBC Proms. His liturgical pieces are in the repertoires of many of Britain's leading cathedral and collegiate choirs and his music has been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, among them The Sixteen, the Latvian Radio Choir, the Tallis Scholars, the Bavarian Radio Choir, the Swedish Radio Choir, Ars Nova Copenhagen and the Norwegian Soloists Ensemble. In 2003 he won the liturgical category at the inaugural British Composer Awards, and won the choral award in 2009 for The Spacious Firmament and again in 2013 for Airplane Cantata.

Recent instrumental projects include a Piano Sonata, commissioned and premiered by David Wilde, a Piano Concerto, commissioned by the Presteigne Festival for Huw Watkins, and Doonies Hill Antiphon, for seven solo strings, for Scotland’s RedNote Ensemble.

His music is being recorded with increasing frequency, with over 60 works available on CD. In 2005 the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh released a disc of his sacred choral music on Delphian Records, and a second volume appeared in 2012. In 2009, Hyperion released the critically-acclaimed Not No Faceless Angel, with Polyphony and Stephen Layton, and followed that in 2012 with 'A Ship with Unfurled Sails' by Maris Sirmais and the State Choir 'Latvija'. The Naxos recording of his Requiem, sung by the Vasaris Singers, appeared in the same year. Instrumental recordings include the recent release on SFZ Music of his complete organ works played by Michael Bonaventure.

From 2010-2013 Jackson has been Associate Composer to the BBC Singers, resulting in a series of substantial commissions, including In Nomine Domini for the 2010 BBC Proms and Airplane Cantata for choir and pianola and a 30-minute Choral Symphony, premiered in Sweden in October 2012. Other recent commissions include According to Seneca, and Rigwreck for the award-winning Philadelphian professional chamber choir, The Crossing, The Glory of the Lord, written for the Papal visit to Westminster Abbey in September 2010, and To the Field of Stars, co-commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus, St Jacobs Chamber Choir, Stockholm, and The Netherlands Chamber Choir, premiered in Autumn 2011. 2013 saw the premieres of Ave Dei patris, commissioned by the Tallis Scholars for their 40th anniversary, In the half-light of dusk for Chicago choir Bella Voce  and Countless and wonderful are the ways to praise God for choir and orchestra, for the City of London Sinfonia’s cathedrals tour.

April 2014 saw the first performance of his most substantial work to date, the hour-long The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, commissioned by Merton College, Oxford for their 750th anniversary, and which received its North American premiere at Trinity Wall Street, New York, nine days later. Current projects include On the shore of the mind, a New Music Biennial commission for Mr McFall’s Chamber and Zero point reflection for the award-winning Juice Vocal Ensemble. In Autumn 2014 the BBC Singers will release a disc of his commissions for the group on Signum Records.