Photo: the churchyard, St. Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall (see To Tolverne - a Riddle)
Jolyon Laycock was born in Bath in 1946. He studied for B.Mus and M.Phil in composition at the University of Nottingham under Arnold Whittall and Ivor Keys. His composition teachers included Henri Pousseur, Cornelius Cardew and David Bedford. Later in life he studied for his Ph.D at York under Nicola Lefanu.
His compositions include many songs, music for solo piano, solo woodwind, choir, orchestra and chamber ensemble, as well as experimental and environmental soundscapes. During the 1970s he pursued a freelance career as an experimental sound artist. In 1979 he took up the post of Music and Dance Coordinator at the Arnolfini in Bristol, running a programme regarded as one of the most innovative outside London. In 1990 he took up the post of Concert Director at the University of Bath and the Michael Tippett Centre at Bath Spa University College where he founded the award-winning concert series “Rainbow over Bath” and master-minded the international contemporary music exchange programme "Rainbow Across Europe". In 2004 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Arts Management at Oxford Brookes University until 2010. He became Chairman of the Severnside Composers Alliance in May 2011.
In 1994 he was commissioned by the Diocese of Bath & Wells to write Edgar the King, a setting for choir and orchestra of poems from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. He has written two operas and is currently working on a third. He has written many educational and community works including Dream River: Great Wall , a creative project for junior school children in collaboration with the UK Chinese Ensemble funded by Youth Music in 2002 & 2003.
His poem A Brief History of... won first prize in the 2004 Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution poetry competition. In 2012 his setting of Philip Larkin‘s poem The North Ship won first prize in the EPSS Jubilee Song Competition, performed by Sarah Leonard. As a result he was able to collaborate with Sarah Leonard in the creation of Dark Seas, a setting, for coloratura soprano, clarinet and piano, of five poems by Phlip Larkin, funded by Arts Council England.
... "Among Seven Hills - Sinfonia Concertante for Piano and Orchestra" ... used the complete orchestra along with superb soloist Philip Mead, and referred to the River Avon and its movement through the hills. The piano gradually emerged through the changing sounds of the ensemble. They began with glorious chords that swelled, followed by silence, then swelled again and again. Woodwinds seemed to create a timeless watery world... Jean Hasse, Bristol Evening Post, Thursday 15 April 2010.
As they revealed themselves to us we began to find the many expressive qualities in them, and realised how closely they described the poems. I think they are a major new song cycle for an experienced soprano and I look forward to singing them again in the future... Sarah Leonard commenting on Dark Seas (2014)