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 enquiries around the meaning of sound. He has been associated with other British independent voices of the same generation, such as Bailie, Harrison, Newland, Saunders, Whitty.
His music is mostly performed by a dedicated community of friends and musicians, but he has also written for various groups and ensembles including Plus Minus, 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, Philip Thomas, 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. Two albums of music have been released on Edition Wandelweiser (2006, 2010), and in 2019 Piano Music 2015-16 was released on all that dust, and the electro-opera Pleasure Island was released on Slip as vinyl and download, followed in 2020 by Here Comes A Monster released on Takuroku.
Time With People, an opera, (2012-13) has received performances in London and Huddersfield (2014-15 by Edges), Los Angeles (2015 by Southland Ensemble); Chicago, Oberlin, Ohio and Beloit (2017 by a.pe.ri.od.ic, with set design by Parsons & Charlesworth); Cardiff (2016 by Good News From The Future); New York (2017 by Object Collection); Ghent (2018 by G.A.M.E.); La Chaux-de-Fonds (2018 French language version, translated by Louis d'Heudieres, performed by Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain); Helsinki (2019 multilingual version, at Tulkinnanvaraista); Basel (2020 in French as above, performed again by NEC).
In 2018 he was appointed a Creative Fellowship at the Samuel Beckett Research Centre, which led to string quartet 2019 in which during the performance the musicians are enclosed within a large box.
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, 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 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.
- solo albums
Here Comes A Monster (Takuroku TRO11)
Piano Music 2015-16 (Mark Knoop, all that dust ATD6)
Pleasure Island (Slip SLP053)
piano piece piano piece (Philip Thomas, Edition Wandelweiser EWR1005) (recording of piano piece (2006) and piano piece (2007))
cello piece (Stefan Thut, Edition Wandelweiser EWR0603)
- archive recordings
- music featured on
/2009/ (Compost and Height) (includes Melodica and Percussion performed by Tim Parkinson)
untitled installation (with Angharad Davies) (free download on Never Come Ashore)
A Place in the Sky (Lorelt LNT135) (includes Clarinet and Words performed by Andrew Sparling)
20.05.02 - Tim Parkinson, Michael Parsons, Manfred Werder (free download from Compost and Height) (featuring four pieces (2000)
- as performer
James Saunders - divisions that could be autonomous but that comprise the whole (Another Timbre at44)
A Letter To My Mom: Time with Aperiodic, by Lily Mooney (Cacophony Magasine, March 10 2017)
Ein Lobgesang auf theatrale Partituren, by Louis d’Heudières (MusikTexte 149 - Mai 2016)
Tim, s lidmi, by Jorge Boehringer
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)
BORE Edition 02 featuring "songs 2011" (Bore Publishing)
"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
"it doesn't sound like any other music, therefore surprising. (…) it doesn't give the listener what music is traditionally supposed to give (...) Adjectives which come up while listening are steady, calm, unpretentious, clear, unambiguous, structured, radical in a non-confrontative way – a lot of un-something or non-something. For its use of traditional material it might seem to be at home in the contemporary music world, for its content it is not, or not in the first place. There is a gap which makes it surprising."
“OK, the question is what is going on in music now that I find interesting, right? (...) 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. 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)
“The pack of zombie performers—Huddersfield’s brilliant Edges ensemble—are glued to smartphones as they navigate a junk-strewn stage through disembodied bleeps. They resemble nothing if not a herd of London commuters. But the thrill of Time With People is how much heart Parkinson packs into a nihilistic landscape. (…) It is deeply, miraculously poignant.”
Laurence Tompkins, Electronic Beats
“There is craft in abundance on this disc, presenting a cornucopia of musical ideas and techniques.”
Ben Harper, Boring Like A Drill on Piano Music 2015-16 (ATD6)
“The beauty of Pleasure Island is Parkinson’s ability to transform crude and discarded objects into something magical.”
I Care If You Listen Top Ten End Of Year List 2019 by Amanda Cook
"This is very precise, intelligent and simply beautiful music performed by [Philip] Thomas at the absolute top of his game.” Graham McKenzie, The Sampler 15 July 2010 on piano piece piano piece EWR1005
“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 on cello piece played by Stefan Thut (Edition Wandelweiser EWR 0603)
"Parkinson is a true original, writing music that will frustrate people that want everything to be easily categorisable."
The Watchful Ear
“Reconstructing music from the ground up”
“Your music seems to stand so in between many categories or scenes, being kind of homeless.”