Born in 1970 Jonathan Cole began to compose at an early age following his first piano lessons. Later in his teens he also played viola and organ and sung in the choirs of his school Christ’s Hospital. During this time he began having private lessons with Malcolm Williamson in return for copying and editing work. Williamson was the first of an eclectic group of teachers – David Lumsdaine, Peter Wiegold, Simon Bainbridge and Simon Holt followed with Cole completing his doctorate in 2001. Other composers with whom he came into contact and who were to have a lasting influence on his work included Lou Harrison and Louis Andriessen.
From 1997 to 2006 Cole composed a series of acclaimed works that impressed both critics and public with their technical skill and vivid colours. During this time he worked closely with the London Sinfonietta who premiered three pieces: Ouroboros I, Ouroboros II and Assassin Hair as well as giving performances of Marble Arch 4.30, Penumbra and Testament (British premiere). They also toured Cole's work in Sweden and Switzerland and recorded Testament with conductor Oliver Knussen. Both Ouroboros II and Testament were nominated for RPS awards. Ouroboros I was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Composition prize in 1999. In 1999, 2000 and 2002 his music was featured as part of the 'State of the Nation' Festival in London's South Bank Centre. Advocates of his music at this time included George Benjamin who chose Cole to be the recipient of a commission from the London Symphony Orchestra as part of the By George! Festival at the Barbican in 2003 and Mark Anthony Turnage who programmed works with both the BBC Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
In 2006 Cole felt the necessity to radically reconsider his whole approach to composition having become increasingly influenced with the ideas and works of Luigi Nono. The music that came out of this intensive period of self-reflection was recently described by Tim Rutherford-Johnson as sounding “a world away from anything written by his British contemporaries” marking him out “as one of the most strikingly original and provocative voices in British contemporary music.” In these works we find the composer grappling with the relationship between score and performers in daring and stimulating ways. This music draws on the environmental sounds of Cole’s home city, London and conjures up structures which seem to exist on the fragile threshold between crystallization and decay. These works include ash relics and un-veiled Litanies for ensemble, a music theatre piece burbubabbar za as well as a series of chamber works.
Performers of his work include Stefan Asbury, George Benjamin, Claire Booth, Martyn Brabbins, Rolf Hind, Yasuaki Itakura, Oliver Knussen, Nicholas Kok, Tim Lines, Brad Lubman, Odaline de la Martinez, Diego Masson, Melinda Maxwell, Sarah Nicholls, Craig Ogden, Jean Rigby, Pascal Rophe, Clark Rundell, Pierre-Andre Valade, Paul Watkins, Ryan Wigglesworth, Asko Ensemble, BBC Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Composer’s Ensemble, Explorensemble, G Project, Italian Radio Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra, Mercury Quartet, Nash Ensemble, New Perspectives, Nomad Ensemble, Ojai Festival Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Tokyo Sinfonietta.
His works have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as well as in Belgium, Japan, Sweden and USA and CDs include Caught (Composer's Ensemble), Testament (London Sinfonietta) and tss’k’haa (Roderick Williams).
Jonathan Cole is a professor of composition at the Royal College of Music where he is leads the postgraduate composition course.He has also taught at King's College, London and the Purcell School and is much in demand as a leader of education projects. His pieces are published exclusively by G.Ricordi, London and he is currently composer-in-association with the London Contemporary Orchestra.
ORCHESTRA AND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
Assassin Hair (2002) 16'
Mezzo Sop -1/afl.picc.1.1/bcl.1/cbsn - 184.108.40.206. perc. hp.- 220.127.116.11.1
Commissioned by the BBC and premiered by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen with Jean Rigby (mezzo) at QEH - 16.05.02
"instrumental writing that veers from introspective brooding through expressionist violence to wild, delirious extroversion. "Andrew Clements - The Guardian
Ouroboros I (1999) c.16'
Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta for the "State of the Nation" 1999. First performed by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Martyn Brabbins at the QEH - 10.04.99
Ouroboros II (1999) 19'
1/afl.1.1/bcl.1 - 18.104.22.168 - perc.hp.pf - 22.214.171.124.1
Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and premiered by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Pierre- Andre Valade at the QEH - 16.04.00
"remarkably well imagined" Andrew Clements - The Guardian
Penumbra (2003, revised 2004) 13'
126.96.36.199 - 2.1.1 - perc, harp, piano, strings
Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra with additional funds from the Britten-Pears Foundation. Premiered by the LSO conducted by George Benjamin at the Barbican Centre London - 13.2.03. Revised version first performed by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Oliver Knussen at the QEH London - 02.04.04
"an uncommon eloquence of instrumental speech" John Fallas - Classical Source
Tafos (2001) 16'
for chamber ensemble : 2 clarinets, 2 horns, 2 violins, 2 cellos, double bass
Commissioned by the Purcell School with funds provided by the Vaughan Williams Trust.
Premiered by the Purcell School Contemporary Music Ensemble at the Adrian Boult Hall - 25.06.01
Temporale Distante (Penumbra II) (2003) 13'
4fl, 2ob, 4cl, 2 bn, 4 hn, 3 tpt, 3 tmb, tuba, perc, harp, strings
Commissioned by RAI Torino and premiered on in Torino, conducted by Pascal Rophé - 26.02.04
Testament (2005) 12'
2 Clars, 2 Trpts, 2 Perc., 188.8.131.52
Commissioned by the Ojai Festival, Sue Knussen Commissioning Fund and the London Sinfonietta. First performance by the Ojai Festival Orchestra conducted by Brad Lubman, Ojai, USA - 12.06.05
"music at ease with nature, an accompaniment to the rustling of leaves on a warm late afternoon, and deeply touching." Mark Swed - Los Angeles Times
Ash Relics (2009) 17’
fl(swanee whistle in G).bcl.perc.gtr.vln.vc.
Brood (2002) 2'
Bb Clarinet, Viola
Commissioned for Simon Bainbridge's 50th birthday concert.
First performance given by Endymion at St John's Smith Square -27.09.02
Caught (1998) 7'
Flute, clarinet, piano, vibraphone, viola, cello
Commissioned by the Brighton Festival and premiered by the Composer's Ensemble at St Nicholas Church, Brighton -16.05.98
"..a 6-minute 'chord study' that consistently beguiles the ear.." Colin Anderson - Classical Source
Marble Arch 4.30 (2000) 7'
Commissioned by Music Past and Present and premiered by Chamber Domaine at Jackson's Lane, London - 20.02.00
Quicksilver (1997) 10'
For two Bb clars. (2nd doubling Bass) , piano and 1 perc.
Commissioned by the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival. First performance by the OFCM Ensemble conducted by Stefan Asbury at the Jaqueline Du Pre Concert Hall, Oxford - 25.10.97
Sandlining (2004) c.12'
Commissioned and first performed by the Soyulla Ensemble, House of Hope Presbytarian Church, Minneapolis -25.09.04
Scrawling Out (2006) c.12'
Commissioned by the Nash Ensemble. First performance with soloist Gareth Hulse at the Wigmore Hall, London - 22.03.06
"the interplay between all four players was dazzling."
Paul Conway - Independent 27/03/06
Burburbaba za (2008-09) 30’
1 female voice / 2 males voices / 3 percussion / string trio / amplification
Commissioned and premiered byLondon Contemporary Orchestra
Village Underground, London 27/06/09
Giri kur dab (2012) 14’
solo cello + percussion + amplification
Colin Alexander – cello / Jonathan Cole - Percussion
Royal College of Music, London 18/05/12
A Group of Memories (1990 - 1995) c.10'
First complete performance by the composer at King's College, London - October 1995
Elegy (2003) c 4'
Cello and piano Commissioned by the ABRSM
Go Tango (2002) 7'
Commissioned and premiered by Robert Keeley at King's College, London - 27.02.02
Suntrap (2001) 6'
Commissioned by the Britten Estate Ltd. and premiered by Craig Ogden at the Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh - 28.10.01
Totem (1998-99) 8'
Commissioned and premiered by Melinda Maxwell at the RNCM - 16.02.00
Trapdoor (1999) 9'
Commissioned and premiered by Rolf Hind at Cheltenham Town Hall -01.11.99
Bridal Song (2000) 3'
First performed by the Vasari Singers at the church of St Simon and St Jude, Milton-under-Wychwood -17.06.00
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (2005) c.5'
Sopranos/Altos and Organ
Sorful Ter (1997) 7'
Soprano and piano
First performance by Cara McHardy (Soprano) accompanied by the composer, Tracy Chadwell Memorial Concert at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama - 19.09.97