Andrew Ford is a composer, writer and broadcaster. His music has been played in many parts of the world, featured at international festivals as far-flung as Houston and Huddersfield, Salzburg and Seoul, and championed by groups such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Brodsky Quartet and the New Juilliard Ensemble, which has given the New York premiere of four of his works, including Scenes from Bruegel, which it co-commissioned with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
Ford's music has been performed by groups as diverse as the Black Dyke Band (UK), the dèdalo Ensemble (Brescia), the Da Capo Chamber Players (New York), Duo Stump-Linshalm (Vienna), Ensamble 3 (Mexico City), Het Trio (Amsterdam), the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the London Sinfonietta, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and all Australia's major orchestras and ensembles. His works have been conducted by Oliver Knussen, Reinbert de Leeuw, James MacMillan, Brett Dean, Paul Daniel and Jeffrey Tate, his piano pieces played by Peter Donohoe, Lisa Moore, Ananda Sukarlan, Michael Kieran Harvey and Gerard Willems, and his songs sung by Yvonne Kenny, Sarah Leonard, Jane Edwards, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Gerald English. English, indeed, has sung a dozen works by Ford, most notably the music-theatre piece, Night and Dreams: the death of Sigmund Freud (words by Margaret Morgan), which he premiered at the Adelaide Festival in 2000, before taking it to the Sydney and Melbourne festivals in 2001. A recording of the piece was released on Decca Eloquence in 2008.
Born in Liverpool, England, in 1957, Andrew Ford spent much of his childhood listening to the Beatles and other Sixties pop groups. In 1975, he went to the University of Lancaster where he studied composition with Edward Cowie and John Buller and had a formative meeting with Sir Michael Tippett who told him to forget about musical systems and trust his instincts. In 1983, he moved to Australia to join the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. While there, he completed a Doctorate, writing his thesis on musical word setting. Between 1992 and 1994, Ford was composer in residence with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Since 1995, he has presented The Music Show each weekend on ABC Radio National.
Ford was a recipient of the Peggy Glanville-Hicks fellowship (1998–2000), and during this period, he began work on The Waltz Book, to a commission from the pianist Ian Munro. Recent works include Blitz (2011), for orchestra and recorded voices, premiered in Hobart by the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra under Marko Letonja, String Quartet No 5 performed nine times in 2013 by the Australian String Quartet, and the song cycle Last Words, commissioned by the soprano Jane Sheldon and first performed by her with the Seraphim Trio at the 2013 Port Fairy Spring Festival.
Last Words was named Vocal Work of the Year at the 2014 Australian Art Music Awards. Ford's other prizes include the Yorkshire Arts Composers Award, which he won jointly with Mark-Anthony Turnage in 1982 (for Portraits), the Sydney Spring Festival award in 1998 (for Tattoo) and the 2002 Jean Bogan Prize (for The Waltz Book). In 2004, Learning to Howl received both the AMC award for the best composition by an Australian composer and the prestigious Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize; Tales of the Supernatural was named APRA vocal work of the year in 2005; Ford's opera, Rembrandt's Wife, to a libretto by Sue Smith, won a 2010 Victorian Green Room Award; and Rauha, for wind, brass, percussion, keyboards and double basses, won the 2012 Albert H. Maggs Award.
Ford has also won prizes for his writing about music, notably the Geraldine Pascall Prize for critical writing in 1998. He has published eight books, most recently Earth Dances: music in search of the primitive (2015), and has written and presented five acclaimed radio series, Illegal Harmonies (1997), Dots on the Landscape - an oral history of Australian music (2001), Music and Fashion (2005), The Sound of Pictures (2007–10) and Earth Dances (2015).
Photo © Jim Rolon.
Andrew Ford is a composer, writer and broadcaster, and has won awards in all three capacities, including the 2004 Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl, a 2010 Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt's Wife and the 2012 Albert H Maggs Prize for his large ensemble piece, Rauha. His music has been played throughout Australia and in more than 40 countries around the world. He was composer-in-residence with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (1992–94), Peggy Glanville-Hicks Fellow (1998–2000), Australia Council Music Board Fellow (2005–06) and resident composer at ANAM in 2009. In April 2014 he was Poynter Fellow and Visiting Composer at Yale University. A former academic, Ford has written widely on all manner of music and published eight books, most recently Earth Dances: music in search of the primitive (2015). He has written, presented and co-produced five radio series, including Illegal Harmonies and Earth Dances, and since 1995 he has presented The Music Show each weekend on ABC Radio National.