Tim Parkinson (b.1973) has consistently pursued an independent path, seeking to engage with whatever it means today to be a functioning composer in the world. His music has been labelled as experimental, "reconstructing music from the ground up", and "sounding like nothing else", the work invariably returning to fundamental questions around the meaning of sound. He has been associated with other British independent voices of the same generation, such as Bailie, Crane, Harrison, Newland, Saunders, Whitty.
His music is mostly performed by a dedicated community of friends and musicians (amongst others Philip Thomas and Anton Lukoszevieze), but he has also written for various groups and ensembles including Apartment House, [rout], Incidental Music, Dedalus, Edges, Basel Sinfonietta, London Sinfonietta; and for various instrumentalists including Stephen Altoft, Angharad Davies, Rhodri Davies, Julia Eckhardt, Tanja Masanti, Andrew Sparling, Craig Shepard, Silvia Tarozzi, Stefan Thut, Deborah Walker. His music has been performed in UK, Europe, USA, Armenia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Broadcasts of music have been on BBC Radio 3, Resonance FM, WDR Köln, and Schweizer Radio SRF2.
Time With People, an opera, (2012-13) has received performances in London and Huddersfield (by Edges), Los Angeles (by Southland Ensemble); Chicago, Oberlin, Ohio and Beloit (by a.pe.ri.od.ic, with set design by Parsons & Charlesworth); Cardiff (by Good News From The Future); New York (by Object Collection); Brussels (by G.A.M.E.); La Chaux-de-Fonds (French language version, translated by Louis d'Heudieres, performed by Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain). A German language version is in preparation for performance in 2019.
In 2018 he was appointed a Creative Fellowship at the Samuel Beckett Research Centre.
He is also active as pianist and performer, both independently and also by invitation, having been an occasional performer with Apartment House, and Plus-Minus, and having performed in venues such as Tate Modern, Barbican, Cafe Oto, Union Chapel, and in festivals such as Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Tectonics, Borealis, Frontiers, Roadburn, Donaufestival, All Tomorrows Parties, Audiograft, Edinburgh Fringe, Musica Nova, Cut & Splice, Sonorités, RDV de l'Erdre. As a soloist he has performed with Object Collection, Skögen, Apartment House, Set Ensemble, Incidental Music, Q-02, J.G. Thirlwell, Phill Niblock, Matteo Fargion, Lee Patterson, Angharad Davies, Rhodri Davies, Jürg Frey, Michael Pisaro, Michael Parsons, Gavin Bryars, Joshua Rifkin, Tom Johnson, and Christian Wolff, amongst others. Since 2003 has been regularly performing with composer James Saunders in the lo-fi electronics, auxiliary instrument and any-sound-producing-means duo Parkinson Saunders.
He has organised many public concerts to promote the presence, wealth and variety of present day music exploration, one thread of which is the concert series, Music We'd Like to Hear (www.musicwedliketohear.com), co-curated with John Lely and Markus Trunk annually in London since 2005.
In 2011 he was visiting Professor of Composition at Brno Academy. He has also given lectures at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Oxford Brookes, Ostrava New Music Days, Huddersfield University, Bath Spa University and Snape Maltings, as well as teaching at Ashmole Academy and Christchurch Primary School.
He studied at Worcester College, Oxford, followed by study with Kevin Volans in Dublin, and participated in the Ostrava New Music Days 2001, attending seminars with Petr Kotik, Alvin Lucier, Zsolt Nagy and Christian Wolff.
Soundcloud - https://soundcloud.com/tim-parkinson-1
Vimeo - https://vimeo.com/timparkinson
Twitter - @untitledprknsn
cello piece (Stefan Thut, Edition Wandelweiser EWR0603) (www.timescraper.de)
/2009/ (Compost and Height) (www.compostandheight.com) (includes Melodica and Percussion performed by Tim Parkinson)
piano piece piano piece (Philip Thomas, Edition Wandelweiser EWR1005) (www.timescraper.de) (recording of piano piece (2006) and piano piece (2007))
James Saunders - divisions that could be autonomous but that comprise the whole (Another Timbre at44) (www.anothertimbre.com) (performing on 2 tracks)
untitled installation (with Angharad Davies) (free download on Never Come Ashore) (nevercomeashore.blogspot.co.uk))
A Place in the Sky (Lorelt LNT135) (www.lorelt.co.uk) (includes Clarinet and Words performed by Andrew Sparling)
Wandelweiser und so weiter (Another Timbre at56x6) (www.anothertimbre.com) (performing on 5 tracks)
20.05.02 - Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, Manfred Werder (free download from Compost and Height) (www.compostandheight.com) (featuring 4 pieces (2000)
Dominic Lash - for four (https://dominiclash.bandcamp.com/album/for-four)
Experimental Music Since 1970, by Jennie Gottschalk (Bloomsbury, 2016) (Bloomsbury)
Tim Parkinson interview, by Jack Sheen (ddmmyy)
Ein Lobgesang auf theatrale Partituren, by Louis d’Heudières (MusikTexte 149 - Mai 2016) (musiktexte.de)
Time With People: warm blooded reductionism, by Ben Harper (Boring Like A Drill)
Review of Time With People in The Observer 20th December 2015 (here)
Tim, s lidmi, by Jorge Boehringer (http://www.hisvoice.cz/cz/articles/detail/2823//)
Tim Parkinson Interview - Trio With Objects (http://www.bangthebore.org/archives/5878//)
Communication et interaction dans la musique de chambre - L’exemple de l’œuvre ouverte dans la musique contemporaine anglo-saxonne, by Alessandra Giura Longo (UNIVERSITÉ EVRY VAL D’ESSONNE, 2015)
Tim Parkinson interview, by James Saunders (http://www.james-saunders.com/2015/04/19/tim-parkinson-interview//)
BORE Edition 02 featuring "songs 2011" (http://borepublishing.com/)
"Une Présence Manifeste - Quelques Compositeurs Du Royaume-uni Dont J'aime La Musique" by Tim Parkinson - Revue & Corrigée, December 2011
The Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music, ed. James Saunders (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009) (Routledge)
"Zeitmaschinen" by David Ryan - Dissonanz, August 2003
"Tim Parkinson" by Bryn Harrison - Counterpoints, May 1999
"Philip Thomas' sublime recording of Tim Parkinson's piano music recently released on Edition Wandelweiser will soothe the most fevered of brows. Formed of two extended works for solo piano - piano piece 2006 and piano piece 2007 – this is very precise, intelligent and simply beautiful music performed by Thomas at the absolute top of his game."
Graham McKenzie, The Sampler 15 July 2010
"Your music seems to stand so in between many categories or scenes, being kind of homeless."
"As we listened in the foyer, surrounded by Sinfonietta soloists before the somewhat disappointing final concert, to the melodious, somewhat sixties sounds of Tim Parkinson's "untitled (winter 2002)", I reflected on how the state of composition in this country might have turned out if this ensemble had been prepared to take such risks thirty years ago. Perhaps much less of the more mainstream predictable stuff which the Sinfonietta feels obliged to offer on these occasions might have been written."
Keith Potter, The Independent, 2nd May 2002
"It has the feeling of a very genial assemblage (...) -- light in character, but not at all superficial. This is not a characteristic I hear in much other music from the UK."
Michael Pisaro, California Institute for the Arts
Tim Parkinson Cello Piece EDITION WANDELWEISER RECORDS CD "Very few composers have made use of the shuffle play function offered by CD players. Tim Parkinson is one who has, and he’s used it creatively. His austere and ostensibly minimal Cello Piece (2004), written for the cellist Stefan Thut, consists of twelve sections which can be played in any order. This isn’t, by any means, a new compositional strategy (Pierre Boulez and Earle Brown, for example, have written compositions that may be tackled in this way), but Parkinson has constructed each of his twelve pages of music so cunningly that there are a number of perspectival shifts within each of the sections, new ideas are introduced when you least expect them, and there are no clear beginnings or endings anywhere in the score. None of the musical events offer any indication as to what has gone before or what will happen next. Even after several listens in standard play it’s hard to predict when changes are about to occur, and once the numerous permutations offered by shuffle play have been factored in, the piece assumes a complexity that such minimal materials would seem to deny.
Except, on reflection, the material isn’t minimal at all. As with Morton Feldman’s works from the 1980s, Parkinson seems to use repetition intuitively rather than according to a fixed compositional logic, and the range of string articulations and sonorities that Thut has to produce is extensive. Perhaps what’s more important is that Parkinson has avoided making a music which draws attention to either its or the performer’s virtuosity. In its unostentatious, non-Romantic presentation and compositional integrity it reminds me somewhat of Bach’s “Cello Suites”, a total music."
Brian Marley, The Wire, March 2007
OK, the question is what is going on in music now that I find interesting, right? I think at the moment, well, it's been at least over the last five or six years, there have been a group of composers, well it's a kind of music that is more or less based in Germany. It is called Wandelweiser, and it's a collective of composers that come from all over the place: Dutch, German, Swiss and American. What I like about them is how they organise themselves as a collaborative operation. They make their own festivals, their own recordings, they publish the music themselves; so they are completely independent of the new music establishment. And they are genuinely different; the character of the music is very extreme; very minimal. I mean, I don't think that is the only music one needs to make, it's not a direction everyone has to follow. But nonetheless, the kind of music they are making, the way they are organising, seems to me a good thing.
There are a couple of English composers I know, there are two, I am sure there are more, three including a German who has been here a long time; Tim Parkinson, James Saunders and Markus Trunk are working in directions that I find attractive. They are not so minimal, not so extreme as this Wandelweiser group. But there is also an independence and freshness to what they are doing, and an independence from the standard 'new music' norm.
Christian Wolff in London: In Conversation with David Ryan and Anton Lukoszevieze at the Conway Hall, London, 16 October 2006 (British Library)
(see also individual works for other comments)