Meet the Composer: Dominic Wills

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Hear Dominic’s composition in The Clements Prize final at Conway Hall on 17 October 2021!

Find out more / book tickets here.


Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you become a composer?

I began composing when I was about 10 years old. I had a small keyboard in my bedroom which I wrote little tunes on and after a while I began to notate my ideas. In 2013, I began studying formally with Ewan Campbell in Cambridge, followed by Joe Phibbs from 2017. I was also a member of Aldeburgh Young Musicians, a Centre of Advanced Training in Music which gave me the invaluable opportunity to write music for my peers. Since 2019, I have been studying with David Horne and Adam Gorb at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, during which time I’ve been lucky enough to have music played by incredible ensembles such as Trio Northumbria and the London Sinfonietta. I love composing, because I love hearing my music played and seeing performers and listeners approach my compositions. 

We are all looking forward to hearing the piece you have written for The Clements Prize 2021.  Could you say a little about it please?  We’d love to hear about the inspiration behind the music, what you think of the string trio form…

My piece ‘Indris’ is a work for string trio which draws inspiration from the haunting call of the Indri lemur – a species of primate endemic to the eastern forests of Madagascar. Some local people believe the Indri to be a descendant of their close relatives and white settlers imagined the lemurs to be spirits; ‘lemures’  literally means ‘ghosts’ in Latin. Indeed, the extraordinary call does seem to be almost human-like in its emotional depth. Taking the call as a starting point, I fleshed out a sonata-form modelled on the sonatas of Mozart, with the call appearing at each of the important structural moments. I then inserted a chorale, itself derived from the Indri�s call, around and through the sonata form, mirroring its trajectory. The resulting work follows these different strands as they synthesise and separate fluidly, culminating in a searing climax.

What are your plans for the future? What are you going to write next? Do you have any performances coming up?

I am currently in my last year at the Royal Northern College and exploring various options for postgraduate studies, perhaps abroad. In the short term, I have a performance of my song cycle ‘To Know Them Gone’ coming up at the Ludlow English Song Festival on 30th October. I am also looking forward to a performances of a string quartet and orchestral music at the RNCM, in December and April respectively. 

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