Patrick Harrex was born in London in 1946 and his first musical training was as a violinist, his teachers including Norbert Brainin and Eta Cohen. He continues to perform as a violinist and viola player.
He began to write music at school but his interest in composition blossomed while at York University where he read Music and Education. He achieved a number of successes during his student days, including first prize in the 1968 BBC Composers’ Competition. His Sonata for female voice, flute and percussion, published by Schott (in the Ars Viva catalogue) was written in 1966 and in 1968 he was commissioned by the Decca Record Company to write a work for children (Narnian Suite) for ‘Voices’, recorded on the Argo label. Antiphonies, written for the Portia Ensemble, was premiered at the Purcell Room in November 1967, with the composer conducting. In 1968 he was featured in BBC Radio Three’s ‘Youth at the Helm’.
While at York he was also a founder member of Gentle Fire, which became one of the leading groups performing experimental and live electronic music.
He was awarded a French Government Scholarship which enabled him to spend a year in Paris after graduating from York in 1968, where he attended Messiaen’s composition class at the Conservatoire and studied privately with Gilbert Amy. Prior to this, during the summer of 1967 he had attended a brief course in composition given by the Belgian composer Henri Pousseur.
Patrick has continued to receive awards and commissions. He has twice been a shortlisted composer with SPNM (The Society for the Promotion of New Music) and in 2003 gained second prize in the Luxembourg International Composition Prize with Hauptweg und Nebenwege. His works have been performed widely, live and on radio, and commercially recorded not only in the UK but also in continental Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Among the eminent names of those who have performed his music are Noelle Barker, Michael Bonaventure, Tracey Chadwell, Michael Finnnissy, Janet Hilton, Rolf Hind and Nicolas Hodges, Robert Sherlaw Johnson, Thea King, the Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Jane Manning, Canadian soprano Mary Morrison, the Nash Ensemble, Judith Pierce, the Pierrot Players, Première Crew and Mary Thomas.
Patrick is also actively involved in encouraging interest in new music by young people and amateur musicians – he currently holds positions as Composer in Residence at two schools in Sussex, and in 2005 he established the Sussex branch of CoMA (Contemporary Music Making for Amateurs). He was a founder member and is a past chairman of New Music Brighton, a collective of composers living or working in the Sussex area. He is co-founder, with Claudia Molitor, and Chair of Trustees of Soundwaves Festival.
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