Deirdre Gribbin is an award-winning composer who was born in Belfast. She received an Arts Foundation Award for her full-length opera ‘Hey Persephone’ which was staged at the Aldeburgh Festival and in London at the Almeida Theatre. In 2001 her orchestral work ‘Unity of Being’ opened the ‘UK with NY Festival in New York City after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Her work was featured in the New York Times. In 2004 her groundbreaking UK tour of her violin concerto ‘Venus Blazing’ was lit by Bruce Springsteen’s lighting designer Jeff Ravitz and directed by theatre director Lou Stein. It toured major concert venues throughout the UK, including the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s South Bank, where it sold out. Soon after, the BBC commissioned her to write a major Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, featuring Colin Currie, called ‘Goliath’. It featured lambeg drums from the Protestant marching band tradition and opened the Belfast International Festival. She was commissioned by the RTE for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in 2012 to write a Piano Concerto for Finghin Collins. ‘The Binding of the Years’. It was also performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Deirdre is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and Guildhall School of Music, London. She received her doctorate from the University of London. She subsequently was a Visiting Arts Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge and in 2013 was awarded a Sir Winston Churchill Fellowship for research on arts and disability programmes in the USA and Canada. She is a Fulbright Fellow and studied at Princeton University (USA).
Deirdre has always been interested in the juxtaposition of drama and concert music. Her second opera, ‘Crossing the Sea’, premiered at Wilton’s Music Hall in 2008. She has written extensively for radio, including music for BBC Drama productions of ‘Embers’ starring Patrick Stewart and ‘The Possessed’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Her piece for solo cello, ‘Reflected Glory’ was a recipient of the PRS Woman in Music award and premiered at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. She has written the score for the feature film ‘My Kingdom’ which starred Richard Harris and was nominated for a Screen International Award.
Most recently, Deirdre has extended her collaborative interests to the world of science and health. She was a Leverhulme funded Resident Artist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge in 2012 which resulted in her piece ‘Hearing Your Genes Evolve’ premiered by The Smith Quartet at the Cutty Sark performance space in Greenwich, London. She spoke about her work with music and genes on BBC’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ and was a keynote guest speaker at the EU Innovative Convention in Brussels at the request the of the President of the EU with Dr Sarah Teichmann. She is also featured in the Festival Ideas in Cambridge at The Sanger Institute in 2015 with The Vanbrugh quartet.
Deirdre is a Leverhulme Fellow based in Canada, where she is writing music for interactive video devices. She is composer-in residence at University College London Hospital working with the epigenetic team. She has been commissioned by Cois Ceim, and Crash Ensemble, to create a new work based on the life of the Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray for performances in 2016 internationally. She is also artistic director of ‘The Venus Blazing Music Theatre Trust’ working with vulnerable adults and children with learning disabilities. ‘Hearing Your Genes Evolve’ was featured in ‘The Dark Gene, a documentary about genetics premiered at Munich Documentary Film Festival in May 2015 and was shortlisted for the 2016 Berlinale documentary prize.
Her setting of Seamus Heaney’s poetry is available on the NMC label recording ‘Island People’ and on lyric fm label ‘Irish Composers Series’ featuring ‘Unity of Being, Venus Blazing and Empire States.
“A charismatic voice in new music”
Paul Conway. The Guardian