Described as “a champion of his generation” and whose music is “hauntingly beautiful” (Media Wales), Nathan James Dearden (b. 1992) is an award-winning Welsh composer of concert music and mixed media, conductor, and educator.
Nathan's music has been commissioned, performed, featured and workshopped by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley Ensemble, Welsh National Opera, mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, The Tippett Quartet, Genesis Sixteen, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Wales, The Heath Quartet, Grand Band, the Fidelio Trio, Hebrides Ensemble, CHROMA ensemble, and flautist Carla Rees. His music regularly features in concerts across the UK and overseas, including at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Dartington International Summer School and Festival, International Young Composers' Meeting, CROSSROADS International New Music Festival and Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music. Nathan began his professional composing life as an inaugural Young Composer-in-Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and Music Creator for Sinfonia Newydd in 2013. Since then his music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Resonance FM, RTÉ lyric FM, S4C and Soho Radio, whilst also released on NMC Recordings and Delphian.
Recent notable performances and projects include: anthem, commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; love songs for the broken with saxophonist Robert Burton, as part of the Magnum Opus Residency with Britten Sinfonia; a Welsh tour of Everything about us in collaboration with poet Rufus Mufasa, commissioned by the National Youth Choir of Wales; and First Service as part of a live BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong broadcast (Choir of Royal Holloway).
Upcoming projects include a Passion setting combining choir, chamber ensemble and immersive, digital storytelling in partnership with the Choir of Royal Holloway (generously supported by the PRS Foundation), plus collaborations and commissions with tenor Nicky Spence and pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen, and cellist Guy Johnston.
Nathan has recently won ‘Best Music Creator’ in the 2022 Making Music UK Awards for a legacy commission with National Youth Training Choirs of Great Britain - i breathe, was selected to represent Wales at the 2023 International Society for Contemporary music World Music Days in South Africa, and awarded the inaugural Acapela Studio Award for Composers from the Welsh Music Guild, to record and promote the music of exceptional Welsh composers. In recent years, he has also been awarded an Early Career Public Engagement Grant from the Institute of Musical Research in support of Spotlight Series: Finnissy at 70, was selected as a London Philharmonic Orchestra Leverhulme Arts Scholar for their 2016/2017 season, in May 2017 he received the inaugural Paul Mealor Award for Outstanding Young Composers, and in summer 2021 he received the inaugural Acapela Composer Award for an outstanding Welsh Composer by the Welsh Music Guild.
Supervised by Prof. Mark Bowden, Nathan’s research interests include parody in music, and music as a form of social commentary. His PhD thesis entitled 'Music as Commentary' addresses questions surrounding: i) the decontextualisation of borrowed, found and existing material, both live and pre-recorded; and ii) how music might reflect society and the communities in which it was created.
Nathan holds a Bachelor of Music (with Honours) from Cardiff University, where he was awarded the David Lloyd Music Prize for excellence in vocal studies and choral work (2012) and the Elizabeth Griffiths Award for his outstanding contribution to the musical life at Cardiff University School of Music (2013). He later graduated from Cardiff University as a Master of Music (with Distinction) in Music Composition with Robert Fokkens, Louis Johnson and Arlene Sierra, where his studies were kindly supported by Cardiff University, the James Pantyfedwen Foundation and the RVW Trust.
Nathan is Lead Composition Tutor at Centre for Young Musicians (Guildhall), Chair of Wales Council for Ivors Academy, a Member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (SMISM), a Trustee of Classical Remix, Board Member of the Welsh Music Guild, Mentor with Associate Artistic Director at MusicFest Aberystwyth, Festival Manager of Chamber Music on Valentia, an Academy Member of the British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors (Ivors) and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).
As a conductor, Nathan is carving a career as one of the most sought-after interpreters of his generation for the performance of twentieth and twenty-first century repertoire. Nathan has held posts and guest conductorships at National Youth Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Choir of Wales, CHROMA, Cardiff University, Cardiff Contemporary Music Group, London Metropolitan University / CASS Institute, and is currently the Director of New Music Collective and New Voices Consort at Royal Holloway, University of London. Nathan made his London Philharmonic Orchestra conducting debut with members of the LPO at their 2018 Summer Gala. Nathan has recorded, performed and premiered works by established living composers such as Judith Weir, David Lang, Caroline Shaw, Michael Finnissy, Benjamin Tassie, Gavin Bryars and Howard Skempton, plus hundreds of new works by young and emerging composers.
Music Composition , MMus (Distinction), Masters in Music Composition , Cardiff University
Award Date: 18 Jul 2014
Music Composition, PhD, Music as Commentary: A portfolio of music compositions, Royal Holloway, University of London
1 Sept 2014 → 30 May 2023
Lead Composition Tutor & Coordinator at Centre for Young Musicians, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
1 Oct 2021 → …