Professor George Nicholson

image of George NicholsonDepartment of Music
The University of Sheffield
Jessop Building
34 Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0479

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I am Head of Composition and Director of the University of Sheffield New Music Ensemble, which is devoted to the promotion of new student work alongside the performance of classic repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries, and I also frequently conduct the Sheffield University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. My work as a composer encompasses a wide range of instrumental and vocal music which has been performed and broadcast in many countries. My music is published by the University of York Music Press, Warwick Music, Peacock Press and Gonzaga Music. I teach undergraduate modules in composition, orchestration, performance and 20th and 21st century music history, including jazz, and I supervise postgraduate research students in composition and issues related to contemporary music. To date I have supervised 25 doctoral students to successful completion, as well as 27 research masters students.

I gained my first degree at York University and went on to pursue a doctorate in composition, studying with Bernard Rands and David Blake. I worked as a freelance musician and teacher in London for ten years before taking up an appointment as Lecturer in Music and Director of Composition at Keele University in 1988, and then joined the staff at Sheffield in 1996. I am a keen pianist and conductor, a founder member of the chamber groups Triple Echo and Nomos, and I also give regular recitals with my wife, the soprano Jane Ginsborg, clarinettist Philip Edwards and trombonist John Kenny. I am Director of the Sheffield Lydian Singers and since 2016 I have been President of the Sheffield Bach Society. From 2006 to 2018 I served as a member of the Executive Committee for Concert Music of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and I am regularly called upon as an adjudicator for the British Composer Awards.

Research interests

  • composition (instrumental/vocal)
  • notation and interpretation in contemporary music
  • microtonality
  • computer interaction with live performers

Current projects

  • Ballet score based on the 'Lady and the Unicorn' tapestries

Selected publications

Flute Concerto (commissioned and premiered in Zurich by James Galway and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra)

Cello Concerto (commissioned by the BBC for Moray Welsh and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra)

Chamber Concerto (commissioned by the BBC and premiered by the London Sinfonietta)

Concerto for Orchestra (commissioned in celebration of the centenary of the University of Sheffield and premiered by the University Symphony Orchestra)

Short Stories (written for the Sheffield University Wind Orchestra)

Wessex Heights (a series of vocal and chamber works based on the writings of Thomas Hardy)

5 string quartets


George Nicholson´s work is available on 7 CDs:

String Quartet No.3 (Metier MSV 92016)

Peripheral Visions (Metier MSV 92025)

Letters to the World, Spring Songs, For Miles, Sung without Words, In accord, Nodus (Metier MSV 92062)

The arrival of the poet in the city (Unknown Public UPL 701: on CD 7 of `Audiologue´ – 7 discs of works by Christopher Logue)

Muybridge Frames, Umbra/penumbra (`A field of scarecrows´ on British Music Label BML 018: music for trombone and piano played by John Kenny and George Nicholson).

Bagatelles (Oboe Classics CC2021)

Darkness Visible (Cuillin 1002)


String Quartet No.3 (extract)

Bagatelle 1

Bagatelle 4

'Answer July' from Letters to the World

View a full list of George Nicholson’s compositions