David Bruce (born 1970) is a British-American composer.
Bruce began his undergraduate studies in music in 1988 at Nottingham University (composition tutors included Jim Fulkerson and Nicholas Sackman), before moving on to the Royal College of Music (1991-3) where he obtained a Masters Degree in Composition, studying with Tim Salter and George Benjamin; and a PhD in Composition at King's College London (1995-9), under the supervision of Sir Harrison Birtwistle.
In recent years Bruce has been developing a growing international reputation as a composer, with his work being performed by leading musicians from around the world, including soprano Dawn Upshaw, klezmer pioneer Giora Feidman, clarinetist Todd Palmer and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Upshaw in particular has played an important role in bringing Bruce's music to the attention of a wider audience, instigating the commission for his opera A Bird in Your Ear, and performing his song-cycle Piosenki at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere. Upshaw was also the soloist in a new song-cycle with ensemble, The North Wind was a Woman, commissioned for the Gala opening of the 2009 season by the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center.
Other recent commissions include Gumboots, commissioned by Carnegie Hall for clarinettist Todd Palmer and the St Lawrence String Quartet, and already scheduled for further performances in Australia, Belgium, England, and the US; Groanbox for New York's Metropolis Ensemble featuring his friends the Groanbox Boys; and Caja de Musica for Concert Artists Guild Winner Bridget Kibbey's Carnegie Hall recital debut.
Bruce's work in opera has attracted considerable attention. His one-act opera A Bird in Your Ear (2008) was commissioned by Bard College, NY and after its premiere has had performances by New York City Opera as part of the 2009 Vox festival; as a finalist in the National Opera Association's Chamber Opera competition 2008; and with students at NYU. The New York Times hailed A Bird in Your Ear as "skillfully written and imaginative".
Bruce's earlier chamber opera Push! was commissioned by the Genesis Foundation and premiered by Tête à Tête in London and went on tour in the UK in 2006, Push! was Critic's Choice for 2006 in both The Telegraph and Classical Music Magazine.
Other previous commissions include a series of mini-operas - Out of the Ordinary, for The Opera Group, Has it Happened Yet? (2002) for ENO Studios and Tête à Tête; Seven Tons of Dung for Tête à Tête (1999); incidental music to the Trestle Theatre Company's show The Smallest Person (2004); and instrumental pieces for the London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Presteigne Festival and the Lake District Summer Music Festival.
Bruce was awarded the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award in 2008, after a nomination by Osvaldo Golijov (a previous nomination in 1998 came from Sir Harrison Birtwistle); other prizes include the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Competition in 1994, the Adam Prize (King's College) and the Herberts Howellls Prize (RCM).
In December 2010, it was announced that Bruce had been selected as one of twenty composers to participate in the New Music 20x12 project as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Bruce will compose a new work for The Opera Group to be premiered in 2012.
In 2011, another commission for Carnegie Hall, the octet Steampunk was premiered by Ensemble ACJW at Skidmore College.
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“It was the most wild and desolate region we had camped in, where, if anywhere, one might expect to meet with befitting inhabitants, but I heard only the squeak of a nighthawk flitting over. The moon in her first quarter, in the fore part of the night, setting over the bare rocky hills garnished with tall, charred, and hollow stumps or shells of trees, served to reveal the desolation.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“I against my brother
I and my brother against our cousin
I, my brother and our cousin against the neighbors
All of us against the foreigner.”
—Bedouin Proverb. Quoted by Bruce Chatwin in From the Notebooks, ch. 30, The Songlines (1987)