Mark R Taylor
I was born in the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, on 7th October 1961, to a working family with roots in rural Essex (NE of London, England), where I still reside.
My maternal great-grandfather led the town band on the penny whistle; in 1904, Vaughan Williams collected folk-songs in the road where he lived, though I've no evidence Charles sang to VW!
Electrified as a boy of 4 by the sound of my mother playing the piano at home, I demanded she teach me, made precocious progress, and almost at once commenced writing my own little pieces.
Very lucky with early teachers, I progressed with scholarships to Brentwood School, where such music as there was remained largely extra-curricular (though Art and Languages were strong). I was chosen to play to Dame Fanny Waterman at a young pianists' masterclass at the 1975 Aldeburgh Festival; after lessons at the Royal Academy of Music with Alexander Kelly (later Head of Keyboard there), in 1978 I gained the ARCM Performer's Diploma, and was Regional Finalist in the BBC 'Young Musician Of The Year' Competition. I was by this time playing concertos with orchestras, including as rehearsal-pianist to the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, having been noticed by their Musical Director when she was adjudicating locally.
I'd become a voracious devotee of the BBC's new-music output, and had, furthermore, discovered for myself such seminal books as Michael Nyman's 'Experimental Music: Cage And Beyond', and had now already produced compositions I continue to acknowledge.
In 1979 I gained an Open Scholarship to read Classics & Modern Languages at the University of Oxford; before taking it up, in 1980, I played to Jorge Bolet at a week of masterclasses at the Edinburgh Festival.
Once at Oxford, I changed subject to read Music; I performed (studying now with Susan Bradshaw), wrote music-criticism for undergraduate publications, ran the University Contemporary Music Group, and joined the (non-University) composers' collective 'Soundpool'.
Accepted for Post-Graduate study, but denied a grant by the policies of the Thatcher government, I worked, being asked to teach in the Music Department of Royal Holloway, University of London, from 1986, and subsequently at King's College, London, and in the Music Faculty at Oxford (this latter leading in due course to Lectureships, at Lincoln College, Lady Margaret Hall, and Oriel), whilst also giving pre-concert talks at the Wigmore Hall, and tutoring for the Workers' Educational Association.
I had sought out first Howard Skempton and subsequently Horatiu Radulescu for guidance on composition; hailed as 'very different and quite remarkable' (Richard Barrett, in 'Tempo', 1988), and as an early avatar of what would come to be dubbed 'The New Complicity' (Geoff Hannan and others' term, to connote that particularly 1990's aesthetic convergence of the European avant-garde with American Experimentalism), my music -- solo and chamber -- was to be taken up by such distinguished interpreters as Julian Jacobson, Ian Pace, Carl Rosman, Darragh Morgan, and Michael Finnissy; increasing exposure, nationally and internationally, saw it released on CD on the French 'Do' label in 1992, as well as being broadcast and published. I was also Featured Composer at new music festivals in Oxford (1992), Cardiff ('Explorations', 1999), and London (2000).
My close involvement with artists working in visual media has led to invitations to exhibit in my own right, in London and in Amsterdam (this latter, in 2002, under the aegis of the British Council).
The recent enthusiasm of New York-based pianist Teodora Stepančić has resulted in her releasing an entire album of my music, on the 'Another Timbre' label (2018).