While at Trinity College of Music, I studied composition with Antonín Tučapský, then, at Goldsmiths’ College (University of London), with Stanley Glasser. Later, while working towards a Doctorate at the University of Surrey, my supervisor and (‘de facto’) composition teacher was Sebastian Forbes. All of these composers, while not being a direct influence, were utterly inspirational as teachers.

Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall
Julie Ainscough © Frances Marshall

Given the wide range of styles in contemporary ‘classical’ music, from tonal and fairly ‘traditional’ to electronic or computer generated, I would describe my own music as ‘somewhere in the middle’. My scores, composed mostly at the piano (or organ), are purely acoustic and gently atonal. Influences range from plainchant to jazz, medieval Spanish cantiguas to Renaissance choral music, Bach to Bartok – in fact, anything that I play or listen to!

My compositional output includes several song cycles, solo piano music, chamber music and choral music (including two large-scale works with orchestra), setting texts by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Brontë, St John of the Cross and Federico García Lorca, as well as Biblical and liturgical texts. More recently, I have concentrated on composing pieces for organ, based on plainchant themes. My most recent work is a motet for Christmas, ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ (2022), a choral tribute to the sixteenth century Spanish composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria, for SATB choir, soprano saxophone and organ.

Selected works:

A Hymn to the Virgin (1974), for SSA choir and organ

Jesu, sweete sone dere (1975), for solo treble and organ

‘Levis exsurgit zephirus’ (1977), for soprano, flute, oboe and guitar (awarded Trinity College’s John Halford prize, the same year)

Sonatina for Two Pianos (1978)

‘De Profundis’ (1978), for chorus and orchestra (awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society prize, the same year)

Five Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1979), for baritone and piano

Sonata for clarinet and piano (1980)

Six Piano Pieces (1982)

Six Poems of Emily Brontë (1983), for soprano, flute and piano

‘Balulalow’ (1986), for SATB choir

‘My Beloved spake’ (1988), for SATB choir and organ

‘Life’s Masque mirrored’ (2004): ten poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, for baritone and piano

‘Virgen de la Soledad’ (2006): four poems of Federico García Lorca, for soprano, clarinet/bass clarinet and percussion (awarded the University of Surrey’s David Lovett prize)

Sonata for Piano (2007)

‘En una Noche Oscura’ (2009): four poems of St. John of the Cross (2009), for counter-tenor, ‘cello, harp, organ and percussion

‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ – Part the First (2011): a setting, for chorus and orchestra, of the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

‘Felix namque’ (2017), for organ

‘Salve Regina’ (2020), for organ (awarded the Society of Women Organists’ Commissioned Composer prize, the same year)

‘Ubi Caritas’ (2021), for organ (commissioned by Stainer & Bell for inclusion in their anthology ‘Gregoriana’, published in March 2022)

‘O Magnum Mysterium’ (2022), for SATB choir, soprano saxophone and organ

“The finest composition student I have ever had”.

Stanley Glasser, Goldsmiths’ College, University of London

“I was very delighted with your music, with your progress, with your perseverance, with your devotion…”.

Antonín Tučapský, Trinity College, London

“Well done!  This (the David Lovatt Prize for Composition) is exciting news”.

Sebastian Forbes, University of Surrey