Gabriel Jackson is one of Britain’s foremost and most celebrated composers. His music is regularly performed, recorded and broadcast throughout Europe and North America and has recently been heard as far afield as Taipei, Moscow, Skálholt, Ho Chi Minh City, Hobart, Kyiv and Kuwait. Particularly acclaimed for his choral works, he is a frequent collaborator with the leading professional groups of the world, including The Sixteen, the DR VokalEnsemblet, the State Choir “Latvija”, the Nederlands Kamerkoor, the Tallis Scholars, Ars Nova Copenhagen, the Swedish and Bavarian Radio Choirs and Philadelphia’s The Crossing, for whom he has composed four works. From 2010 to 2013 he was Associate Composer to the BBC Singers, producing a series of substantial pieces for the group including a virtuoso four-movement Choral Symphony.
Gabriel Jackson was born in Bermuda in 1962. After three years as a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, Jackson went on to study composition with Richard Blackford and later with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music. While at the college he won the Theodore Holland Award in 1981 and was awarded the R.O. Morris Prize for Composition in 1981 and 1983.
In 2003 he won the liturgical category at the inaugural British Composer Awards with O Doctor optime, and won two further prizes in the choral category with The Spacious Firmament in 2009 and Airplane Cantata in 2012.
Alongside his work with voices he has written a number of instrumental pieces that take their inspiration from conceptual artists Richard Long, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Yoko Ono. A longstanding interest in the technology and the aesthetics of aviation has produced a series of works that explore the “miracle of powered flight” including A Vision of Aeroplanes for choir, The White Bird for Eb clarinet and piano, Luna 21 in the Sea of Serenity for ensemble, and LM-7: Aquarius for saxophone quartet.
Jackson’s music can be heard on over 100 recordings including seven discs devoted exclusively to his work on Delphian Records, Regent, Hyperion and Signum Classics.
Recent large-scale works include a Piano Concerto (2009) for the Presteigne Festival, the string-ensemble Doonies Hill Antiphon (2010) for Red Note Ensemble, In Nomine Domini (2010) for the BBC Proms, a 35-minute cantata To the Field of Stars (2011) and La musique (2013), premiered by Dame Felicity Lott and the Choir of Royal Holloway at the Cheltenham Festival.
In April 2014 his hour-long The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, commissioned for the 750th anniversary of Merton College, Oxford, had its first performance in the college chapel and its New York premiere ten days later. The Delphian first recording of the work won the Choral prize at the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards.
May 2015 saw the premiere, at the Latvian National Opera, of his half-hour piece for soprano, choir and orchestra Spring Rounds, commissioned by Youth Choir Kamēr… for their 25th anniversary.
In July 2017 Exile Meditations, a 30-minute work that interleaves texts by present-day Middle Eastern displaced persons and poems by post-war European refugees, was premiered at the Railway Museum in Riga and the following year his extended Stabat mater, commissioned by The Marian Consort to celebrate their 10th birthday, was toured across the UK.
Recent premieres include The World Imagined for tenor, chorus and orchestra at the 2021 Three Choirs Festival, with the firat American performance, by co-commissioners the Elgin Master Chorale, following in May 2022. Mass of St James, also for chor and orchestra, commissioned for the bicentenary of St James’ King Street, Sydney recieved its Covid-delayed premiere in July 2022.
Current projects include another hour-long work for choir and ensemble for Merton College, Oxford.