Christopher Churcher (b.2004) is one of Britain’s most prolific and exciting young composers. Described as ‘a remarkable talent’ by David Hill, Christopher’s accomplished body of works is earning him a national reputation for its striking aesthetics and captivating musical language. Drawing from the contemporary traditions of composers such as John Adams, Julia Wolfe, Nico Muhly, and Caroline Shaw, Christopher is charting a unique course in contemporary classical music. One that embraces organic structures, delicate timbres, and a communicative harmonic language.
Christopher has rapidly established an impressive portfolio, particularly given his age, working with some of Europe’s leading choirs, orchestras and chamber ensembles including VOCES8, The Bach Choir, the Consone Quartet and the Southbank Sinfonia. His compositions have been performed internationally, and have featured in venues ranging from Cadogan Hall and St. John’s Smith Square in London, to Hereford Cathedral and the chapel of All Soul’s College, Oxford. Notably, his music has recently received attention across the Atlantic, leading to collaborations with American ensembles such as the Delaware Choral Scholars.
Christopher at the premiere of Evening Star, at the JAM on the Marsh Festival in 2023
Born in the city of Birmingham, Christopher’s formative years were spent absorbing its rich musical landscapes. He took piano lessons from the age of seven, before successfully auditioning for St. Philip's Cathedral Choir at the age of ten. This musical upbringing as a chorister profoundly shaped him as a composer and thinker, imparting an enduring love for choral music. He also developed a passion for orchestral performance, studying as a bassoonist under Margaret Cookhron, and earning a place in the CBSO Youth Orchestra. Fascinated by the compositional process from an early age, Christopher started to write his first pieces at the age of eleven.
Until the age of nineteen, Christopher received no formal composition tuition. He participated in the Sound and Music Sumer School twice, in 2918 and 2021, where he received an immersive grounding in writing for voice and film. In 2022, he commenced his undergraduate studies in music at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. During his university years, he has immersed himself in the vibrant musical scene of Oxford, participating in orchestras and chamber ensembles, singing in choirs, and composing for ensembles across the city. Additionally, he has taken on managerial roles within the University Music Society, whilst also establishing Aula, a contemporary music collective at his college.
Birmingham Cathedral Choir at Thomaskirche, Leipzig, 2015
Christopher has been decorated with over half a dozen national awards for his music. In 2021, his Very Early Spring composed for soprano and piano, won the Benslow Young Composers' Competition, judged by Judith Weir, the Master of the Queen's music. The following year, his choral setting of Emily Dickinson's 'Before the ice is in the pools' secured the Sir David Willcocks Carol Competition, selected by John Rutter CBE. His song cycle Three Songs from Mytilene premiered at the Ludlow English Song Weekend in 2022 after being chosen for the Ludlow English Song Weekend Young Composers' Platform.
Additionally, his string quartet Arborescent won the National Centre for Early Music Young Composer's Award in May 2022, premiered by the Consone Quartet at All Saints' Church Boughton Aluph, Kent. Furthermore, he was recognised as one of the six composers for the VOCES8 JAM Masterclass Series in 2022, and his piece Echo was premiered at St. Bride's Church, London, receiving the £500 president's commission from JAM on the Marsh. In 2023, he clinched the MayesMusic Composers' Competition and was commissioned to compose a new work Goldenrod for bassoonist Ashby Mayes.
Christopher with the Consone Quartet at the National Centre for Early Music, 2022
In 2023, Christopher's attention turned to orchestral composition, winning the Southbank Sinfonia's Musica Viva Competition. His orchestral overture, BREAKWATER, was premiered by the Southbank Sinfonia during the inauguration of the Levinsky Hall in Plymouth on 4 February 2023. A further highlight was the premiere of his newly-commissioned piece, Evening Star, by the Delaware Choral Scholars at the JAM on the Marsh festival in July. Additionally, he received a commission from Will Dawes and the Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, to compose a new work, for him, to commemorate LGBTQ+ Pride. Christopher also wrote his first organ work This Shining Night, which has been performed extensively and is slated for publication by Beauty in Sound. Christopher has remained occupied with commissions for various Oxford-based ensembles, such as Antiquum Documentum and Opus48.
Looking forward, he is working on a new song cycle, Skysongs, commissioned by Iain Burnside for the Ludlow English Song Weekend 2024, as well as a new recording project for a new work for horn and ensemble in collaboration with hornist Alice Knight.
Christopher with VOCES8 at St. Leonard's Church, Hythe, 2022
In addition to his composition work, Christopher is a baritone and pianist. He sings with the Somerville College Choir and Schola Cantorum of Oxford, as well as managing the Oxford University Chorus. As a pianist, he specialises in North American piano repertoire, working as both a solo pianist and accompanist. His recitals have featured compositions by Shaw, Monk, and Glass.
During his downtime, Christopher enjoys exploring art and poetry, going for morning runs and continuing his quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He's a fan of folk artists like Fergus McCreadie Karine Polwart, and The Staves; his favourite colour is blue, and his favourite film is Lady Bird (2017).
Christopher with the Choir of Somerville College, Oxford in October 2023