'Bullen's sonorities are striking... there's a real musical imagination at work' The Guardian
'When you listen to a concert, or perhaps perform yourself, how aware are you of the space around you? It’s something that’s often overlooked according to Richard Bullen, a young composer who has already created an astonishing variety of work, along with winning a BASCA British Composer Award in 2011. His intricate musical projects bring together music, theatre, film and space, constantly experimenting with new ways to experience live performance.'
Simon Fearn, The Cusp Magazine
British composer Richard Bullen writes music which has been described as 'audacious' and 'astounding', and often makes creative use of the performance space to heighten perception of sound, and thrill the senses. He completed a PhD 'Towards a Resonant Theatre' with David Sawer at the Royal Academy of Music.
He first came to public attention when, as a student of Scott Wilson and Vic Hoyland at the University of Birmingham, his prize-winning work Walpurgis Night was premiered by BCMG. The following year he received a scholarship to study with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at Dartington Summer School. Firewire, the work written during the course and dedicated to Max, later won the Royal Academy’s prestigious Alan Bush Composition prize.
Since then, his music has been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, the St Paul's Cathedral Choir, Orkest de Ereprijs and Psappha. Several works have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed at leading international venues including Symphony Space, New York; Voxman Building, Iowa City; and Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall. His music has also been performed at festivals including Cheltenham; Dartington; Harrogate; Sonorities Festival, Belfast; and the London Contemporary Music Festival.
During a two-year LSO Soundhub residency, Richard developed a site-reactive spatial clarinet trio premiered at LSO St Luke’s and performed since at venues around the country and in Ireland. This led to The House of Asteria for mezzo Lore Lixenberg, eight clarinets and strings, video and the entire building of LSO St Luke’s, which involved musicians placed around the space and on different levels. Video was also a key ingredient in Theatre of Resonance, a duo for live pianist and digital doppelganger performed by Christina McMaster.
Bullen's works for children and amateur ensembles have garnered 4 BASCA British Composer Award nominations: a work for Midlands Fretted Orchestra (commissioned through Making Music’s ‘Adopt-a-Composer’ scheme with funds from the PRS for Music Foundation), Visioni Simultanee for Finchley Symphony Orchestra, and Elemental Songs and Dances, a cantata commissioned by Spitalfield's Music and the Royal Academy of Music for baritone Omar Ebrahim, large ensemble and 120 school children (ages 7-9) from Tower Hamlets, conducted by Ben Gernon.
Clarinettist Anna Hashimoto has commissioned two works: Hanamichi for clarinet, CD and large building, and Hikinuki premiered at St John Smith's Square, London. Christina McMaster commissioned Skylark Machine for solo piano and recorded Bullen's ghostly Scenes from a Deserted Jazz Club with trumpeter Jay Phelps for her album Pinks&Blues available on iTunes.
2018 highlights included the premiere of a New London Children’s Choir commission, a Psappha filming and recording session of Carne Levare for solo horn, and the premiere of Steradian for 12 trombones and torch beams at the 2018 International Trombone Festival, Iowa, USA. Current commissions from Live Music Sculpture, in association with SoundUK and Arts Council England, for a new work for the Ligeti Quartet to be premiered at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich on 29 September 2018, before embarking on a nationwide tour. Fiery Tales was nominated for a 2018 BASCA British Composer Award. In 2019 Richard was made an Associate (A.R.A.M.) of the Royal Academy of Music, an honour given to former students who have distinguished themselves in the profession.
A deputy composition teacher at the Royal College of Music and Trinity Conservatoire junior departments, Richard also teaches privately, including a number of talented students from The Hall preparatory school in Hampstead.