press release
Published: 16 November 2021

Surrey’s Prof Stephen Goss nominated for Ivor Novello Award

The Department of Music and Media is delighted to announce that Professor Stephen Goss has been nominated for an Ivor Novello Award.

Ivor Novello Award nomination

His piece, entitled Still Life, has been nominated in the chamber music category. The piece is a celebration of the life and work of the abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still (1904-1980). Four of the movements are musical meditations on Still's paintings – interspersed with three movements that explore Still's passion for jazz, Beethoven, and Williams Blake.

Regarding his composition, Professor Goss comments: “The paintings that give their names to movements one, three, five, and seven, exemplify four tropes in Still's work – black paintings, blue paintings, paintings that use a lot of space and emptiness, and paintings that use areas of highly contrasting bright colours. Consequently, there is a gradual progression from dark to light in Still Life, suggesting a journey from the depths of despair to transcendence.

“It was very special that the premiere of Still Life took place at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. The original art that had been the impetus for the piece was hanging on the walls where the music first came to life.”

Professor Goss’ background

Professor Goss's music receives hundreds of performances worldwide each year. His music has been recorded on over 90 CDs by more than a dozen record labels, including EMI, Decca, Telarc, Virgin Classics, Naxos, and Deutsche Grammophon. His output embraces multiple genres: orchestral and choral works, chamber music, and solo pieces.

Several of his recent projects have involved the legendary guitarist John Williams, including his Guitar Concerto, which Williams recorded and played on tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Some of the world's leading orchestras have performed his works, including: The Russian National Orchestra (under Mikhail Pletnev), The China National Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, The State Symphony Orchestra 'New Russia', The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra.

Stephen Goss is currently the Chair of Composition at the Surrey, Director of the International Guitar Research Centre, and a Professor of Guitar at the Royal Academy of Music in London. In 2018, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, an honour limited to 300 living people.

Regarding the nomination, Professor Goss says: “I feel honoured, surprised, and humbled that my composition Still Life has been nominated for an Ivor Novello Award. I am particularly excited to be nominated alongside some of the musicians who have influenced and shaped my music over the years (Thomas Adès, Tansy Davies, James Dillon, and James MacMillan).”

The award ceremony takes place at the British Museum on Wednesday 8 December and is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

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