Soundings 2014: Meet the composers. Introducing Tom Coult


Tom Coult is the fourth and the youngest composer in this year’s Soundings 2014. London-born and raised, he’s currently working towards a PhD at King’s College London. In 2013 he won the Royal Philharmonic Prize. He says that his music is characterised by ‘iridescent timbres, glistening harmonies and clear, articulate gestures’. We are very curious to hear his pieces at the Soundings concerts on Thursday and Friday!

Hi Tom! Please introduce yourself.

I was born in North London and after living in Manchester for five years am now living in South London. There are two pieces of mine to be performed at Soundings – firstly Enmîmés sont les gougeboqueuxon Thursday, which takes its name from a line in Frank Warrin’s French translation of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. It’s a piece that focuses on sound quality and harmony – quite luxurious and rich sonically. On Friday I’m conducting Darragh Morgan and RCM students in Sparking & Slipping – it’s a virtuosic showpiece for violin with an ensemble of piano, harp and percussion. 

Tom Coult

What do you expect from Soundings?

I’m hoping to get to know the work of the five other composers and to work with some fantastic musicians. It’s also nice, during a period when I’m working intensively and alone on new pieces, to spend some time thinking, listening and discussing with some fellow humans!

Who or what inspires you?

There are many things in art, literature, science and the natural world that fascinate me and that I find beauty in, but the thing that gets me up in the morning is still the basic building blocks of music – putting notes next to or on top of one another in the best way I possibly can.

In what context would you like a piece of yours to be performed?

I’d love to write a piece for Glenn Gould to play. It seems unlikely though…



Tom Coult (b. London, 1988) studied at the University of Manchester and is currently working towards a PhD at King’s College London. His music is characterised by iridescent timbres, glistening harmonies and clear, articulate gestures. His Codex Homage to Serafini and his Rainbow-Shooting Cloud Contraption both draw inspiration from the imaginary encyclopaedia of Luigi Serafini.

Awarded the Royal Philharmonic Prize in 2013, Coult wrote his Four Perpetual Motions which were first performed by members of Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. His music has been featured at several music festivals, including Bangor New Music Festival, where the Orchestra of the Swan gave the premiere of his ambitious large ensemble work Antic Rounds in 2014. Coult has proven himself to be a passionate advocate for new music, too: in 2013, his lucid and insightful investigation of Pierre Boulez’s Sur Incises – ‘Refraction, Crystallisation and the Absent Idea(l)’ – was published in Tempo.

Future projects include a commission for the strings of the Britten Sinfonia (to be premiered at London’s Milton Court on 20 March) and a work for the Mahler Chamber Orchestra commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival.



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