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Henry McPherson is an interdisciplinary artist, improviser, composer, and researcher. His work explores collaborative creativity and improvisation, often in environmental and socially oriented projects, and in collaboration with plants, animals, and the more-than-human world. His portfolio includes music composed for concert, stage and recording, graphic scores and gallery pieces, texts and audiovisual installations, as well as the performance of contemporary experimental and improvised music and dance.

 

He is a founding member of the UK-Swiss group The Noisebringers, and is co-editor/curator of the digital arts-publication The MASS Collection. He is currently a postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester, a Visiting Lecturer in sonic improvisation at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and previously lectured in free improvised music at the University of Huddersfield. He holds a PhD (Music, Dance) from the University of Huddersfield's Centre for Research in New Music, and an MA and BMus (Composition, Hons) from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He is based in East Lancashire, UK.

"the music [...] convincingly rides that disarming line between familiar and skewed. McPherson’s writing is confident, vivid and rich in atmosphere."

Kate Molleson on Ūhte (2016), BBC SSO / Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

"McPherson’s score is not merely music but a soundscape, with sung dialogue being often echoed by whispers appearing to come from the trees.  The music is very 21st-century, with an ever-present undercurrent of menace and violence.  It packs a theatrical punch. "

Edinburgh Music Review on Maud (2023), Scottish Opera Young Company

Much of Henry's work - such as Maud (2017/2023), Book of Trees (2015), Oracle (2018),  Crocus (2018)  and Moss Gardens (2023 - 2024) - explores personal relationships to the green world via folk and plant lore in interspecies storytelling. He is interested in cross-cultural understandings of non-human knowledges, as well as tensions between increasingly urbanised infrastructure and precarious local ecosystems, between human and more-than-human communities. He has ongoing interest in issues of artistic practice and marginalised identity, particularly around LGTBQ(+) and disability visibility, agency, and advocacy, producing work which centres Queer/LGBTQ(+) voices and experience within the concert context, through collaborative devised music-theatre practice (with Savage Parade, 2015 - 2018), and in sonic installation practices (Collagens, Fruitmarket Gallery, 2019).

Henry’s composed works have been performed and recorded in recent years by artists and ensembles such as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Red Note Ensemble, Decibel, Ensemble Modern, Scottish Opera Young Company, Ronan Whittern, Yiyang Zhao, the Glasgow New Music Expedition, Zilan Liao (Pagoda Arts), Brian Bromberg, Trio Arcania, Alice Allen, the Glasgow New Music Expedition, BRUTALUST Duo, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and Garth Knox, among others.

His portfolio has been showcased at events including hcmf// (Huddersfield), PLUG festival (Glasgow), FLUID Festival (Birmingham), 21st Century Guitar Conference (Muncie, IN), New Music Room (Berlin/Kuala Lumpur), Glasgow Experimental Music Series, Dag in der Branding (NL), The New Together (NGallery, GR); in broadcast on BBC Radio 3 (Late Junction, Freeness), BBC iPlayer, Radio Dordogne (FR), Cartopodes (CH), Radiophrenia (Glasgow), Transmission Radio (Birmingham), The Sampler Mixtape @ Resonance.fm (London), in sound installation at the Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh), Despina Gallery (Rio de Janiero), Fringe Arts Bath (UK), Galérie Analix Forever (Geneva, CH), and in digital installations at NY20+ Gallery (Chengdu, China), "Apropos of Aesthetics" Virtual Reality Exhibition, (2021), the Gathering Zine (RAM, London Design Museum), and the MASS Collection (UK).

As an improviser, he has performed recently alongside artists such as Maggie Nicols, Steve Beresford, Pascal Marzan, Ed Shipsey, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra with Alexander Hawkins and the Noisebringers, Jerry Wiggens, David Birchall, Odie Ji Ghast, BRUTALUST Duo, Raymond MacDonald, Saadet Türköz, Dejana Seculić, Linda Jankowska, Jessica Argo, Weston Olencki, the Noisy Women, Charlotte Keefe, Stanford Cheung, PA Tremblay, Christophe Schweizer, Xina Hawkins, the Genetic Choir, and with dance artists Kirstie Simson, Michael Schumacher, David Zambrano, Skye Reynolds, and Sky Su.

He has recently been artist-in-residence at Galérie Analix Forever (Geneva, CH, 2023/2021), Manasamitra (2021, UK), NGallery (2021, GR, with the Noisebringers) The Fruitmarket Gallery (2019, UK) with Despina Gallery (2018, BR), the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2018, CA), and FLUID Festival (2017, UK, with Savage Parade).

Grants, Awards and Honours

Stadt Wien and AustroMechana Creative Funds (with Florijan Lörnitzo, Vienna, AT), 2022 – 2023

Creative Scotland Four National International Fund, IMMERSIONS (UK, NL), 2021 – 2022

Goethe Institute Virtual Partner Residency Fund (with The Noisebringers, Geneva, CH), 2020 – 2021

University of Huddersfield Collaborative PhD Studentship in Music and Dance in Association with Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 2019 – 2023

New Music Scotland Scottish Awards for New Music (Nominee, “Collaboration in New Music”), 2019

Help Musicians Transmission Fund, 2018

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity Creative Gesture Programme Scholarship (Banff, CA), 2018

Psappha Ensemble Composing for Guzheng Bursary, 2018

Harriet Cohen Memorial Music Trust Harriet Cohen Memorial Music Award, 2018

Royal College of Music Patron’s Prize for Composition, 2017

New Music Scotland Scottish Awards for New Music (Nominee, “Best Recorded New Work”), 2017

Scottish Opera Opera Sparks Commission Prize, 2017

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Institutional Scholarship (Masters), 2017 – 2018

BBC Scottish Symphony Club Composition Prize, 2016

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Sibelius Essay Prize, 2016; Agnes Millar Award for Harmony and Counterpoint, 2015; Dinah Wolfe Memorial Prize for Composition, 2013 – 14

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Institutional Scholarship (Bachelors), 2013 – 2017; (Masters), 2017 – 2018

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