(bLiverpool, 18 March 1957). English composer and writer, active in Australia. After studying with Cowie and Buller at the University of Lancaster, he became fellow in music at the University of Bradford (1978–82). In 1983 he moved to Australia to teach at the University of Wollongong's school of creative arts, producing many ensemble pieces and two operas for young performers, The Piper's Promise (1986–7) and The World Knot (1987–8). He was composer-in-residence at the Sydney Opera House (1985) and at the Australian Chamber Orchestra (1993–5). In 1995 he left academic life to become a broadcaster, producing a major 10-part retrospective of the 20th century, ‘Illegal Harmonies’ (1997). Ford's music demonstrates the influence and stimulus of language, literature and ideas and of a wide range of popular and art music. His works show a wide rhetorical range, particularly in vocal music, from wry or whimsical theatricality, as in A Martian Sends a Postcard Home (1986) and Harbour (1992), to a more elemental sense of musical ritual reminiscent at times of Birtwistle, as in The Widening Gyre (1993).
Stage: Pictures of Lily (music theatre, 1) 1981; Poe (op, G. Devlin), 1981–3; The Piper's Promise (children's op, S. Rowley and J. Falk), 1986–7; The World Knot (children's op, Devlin), 1987–8; Deirdre of the Sorrows (radio score, M. Buzacott), 1989; Parabola (music theatre, B. Blackman), 1989; Whispers (music theatre, R. Hall), 1990; Casanova Confined (music theatre), Bar, tape, 1995
Orch: Conc. for Orch., 1980; Prologue, Chorale and Melodrama, 1981; Epilogue to an Op., 1982; The Big Parade, 8 insts, str qnt, str octet, 3 orch, 1985–6; Imaginings, solo pf, concertino group (vib, cel, hp, elec org), orch, 1990–91; The Widening Gyre, 2 vn, vc, chbr orch, 1993; The Great Memory, vc, orch, 1994; Manhattan Epiphanies, str, 1994–7
2–4 insts: Pit, bn, db, pf, 1981; Boatsong, b cl, mar, 1982; Four Winds, sax qt, 1984; Foolish Fires, A-cl, pf, 1985, Str Qt, 1985; A Whole Lot of Shaking, vc, pf, 1988; Tuba Mirum I, 2 b trbn, 1989; The Art of Puffing: 17 Elegies for Thomas Chatterton, b cl, perc, 1989; Ringing the Changes, pic, b cl, pf, 1990; Alchemy, 4 perc, 1991; Getting Blue, a sax, vib, 1993; Jouissance, 2 tpt, vib, 1993; Mondriaan, fl, 3 perc, 1993; Tuba Mirum II, b trbn, tape, 1993
Solo inst: Portraits, pf, 1981; Like Icarus Ascending, vn, 1984; Swansong, va, 1987; A Kumquat for John Keats, pf, 1988; Spinning, a fl, 1988; Clarion, a cl, 1990; At a Slight Angle… , b cl, 1991; … les débris d'un rêve, pic, 1992; Becalmed, b fl, 1993; Memorial, vc, 1994; 24 Unusual Things to Do with a Violin, vn, 1994; Dark Side, db, 1995, rev. 1998; Rough Magic, hp, 1996
Choral: Wassails and Lullabies, SATB, 1989; The Laughter of Mermaids (M. Blakey), SSATBarB, 1991; In somnia, T, SATB, ens, 1992
Solo vocal: Est-il paradis? (13th century), S, C-cl, perc, 1981; Wedding Songs, (high v, vn)/(low v, vc), 1981; Rap (J. Donne), Bar, digital delay, 1984; A Terrible Whiteness (E. Smart), Mez, pf, 1984; 5 Cabaret Songs (P. Verlaine, C. Baudelaire, A. Rimbaud), 1v, insts, 1985; Sacred Places (C. Reid), T, ens, 1985; A Martian Sends a Postcard Home (C. Raine), T, hn, pf, 1986; Epithalamium (W. Shakespeare), T, vn, bell, 1991; Harbour (M. Morgan), T, 17 solo str, 1992; A Salt Girl, high v, pf, 1994; Dancing with Smoke, high v, hp, 1994; The Past, Ct, fl, str, didgeridoo, 1997
Composer to Composer: Conversations about Contemporary Music (Sydney, 1993)
Illegal Harmonies: Music in the 20th Century (Sydney, 1997)
Ford, Bruce (Edwin)
(b Lubbock, TX, 15 Aug 1956). American tenor. His steady rise to a leading position among Mozart and Rossini tenors of his generation has been grounded in gifts of musicianship as well as technique, which have also equipped him to master many other musical styles, ranging from Rameau through Verdi to contemporary US composers such as Floyd and Glass. After study at the universities of West Texas State and Texas Tech, and a period with Houston Opera Studio, he made his début at Houston and spent periods in Germany (Wuppertal, 1983–5, Mannheim, 1985–7). A remarkable facility in both the highest and lowest registers and in intricate fioriture has given Ford unusual authority over Rossini’s vocal writing, both in comic and serious tenor roles: he has sung Agorante (Ricciardo e Zoraide) at Pesaro, Almaviva at Covent Garden, James (La donna del lago) at La Scala, and Orestes (Ermione) at Glyndebourne. His wide vocal compass has also afforded him an impressive command of Mozart’s Mithridates (notably at Covent Garden in 1992 and 1994). And in other Mozart roles, such as Belmonte, Ferrando (which he has sung at Salzburg) and Tamino, his graceful, long-breathed control of line and dynamics makes ample amends for an occasional rawness of timbre. Ford’s recordings include Almaviva, Meyerbeer’s Il crociato in Egitto and Mayr’s Medea in Corinto.