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Tom Smail


Tom Smail

Composer Tom Smail was a pianist and horn player from a young age. He began his professional musical career as a jazz drummer and worked with many of the greats of the British jazz scene. Ten years later he began composing, following intensive work with Huw Watkins.

He has worked frequently with, amongst others, the Gaudier Ensemble (soloists from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe), the Allegri Quartet, English Touring Opera, The Arch Sinfonia, the choir of St. George's, Hanover Square, international soloists Richard Hosford (clarinet) and Marieke Blankestijn (violin), and celebrated sopranos Anna Dennis and Sophie Daneman.

Among his best-known works are the five Fairy Tales for large ensemble and narrator, two of which have been toured nationally by English Touring Opera. Recorded narrators include Michael Gambon and Harry Enfield.

In 2012 Music in the Marble, a symphonic work in seven short movements, was premièred by City of London Sinfonia.

2013 saw the premières of Soliloquy for Strings with The Arch Sinfonia and Tom's chamber opera Soon, at the Riverside Studios as part of the Tête-à-Tête Festival. 2013 also saw a Kapoor Chamber Concert featuring four Smail premières. His trio, Somewhere Else, was subsequently taken up by The Gaudier Ensemble and his first String Quartet by the Allegri Quartet.

In 2014 Tom was commissioned to write the music for the Royal Court production of a trilogy of Samuel Beckett plays, starring Lisa Dwan. The West End followed, a national tour and, in October, an international tour, beginning at BAM in New York and culminating, in June 2015, at the Barbican.

2014 also saw the premières of Charade, for violin and piano, at the Casa dei Mezzo Music Festival in Crete and A Winter's Tale, with the New London Children's Choir, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

In 2015 Love, Loss and Chianti, a Christopher Reid double bill devised for the stage by and starring Robert Bathurst, with music for viola and cello commissioned from Tom, had a two week run at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester.

February 2016 saw the première of his WWI song cycle for three voices, cello and piano, Forgotten Voices of the Great War, as part of the Southside House 2015/16 Concert Series. Its most recent performance was at the Petworth Festival in August 2018.

2016 also saw the completion of a cello sonata and Thro' midnight streets, a setting of William Blake's London, premièred by the New London Children's Choir at the Barbican in March 2017.

He is currently developing his second opera, Blue Electric, to be directed by Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire), based on his wife's acclaimed memoir, Major/Minor. A 40-minute, work-in-progress version was performed at the 2018 Tête-à-Tête opera festival.

Recent choral works include a new In the bleak midwinter and settings of texts by Samuel Daniel and Kevin Crossley-Holland, the latter commissioned and premièred by the choir of St. George's, Hanover Square.

In addition to his music for the concert world, Tom has written extensively for film and TV (see his website for details).

He is married to the writer, Alba Arikha, and they live with her two children in London.

No cuts or alterations of any kind should be made to this biography without the consent of Tom Smail.

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