Composition

Nicholas Korth (b.1971) is a composer with a passion for the magical world of natural harmony, the extraordinary sounds of overtone singing and the setting of words. He lives in Hertfordshire with violinist Deborah Schlenther and their two children.

As a member of the London Conchord Ensemble he has had much of his music performed (notably in the USA and at the Wigmore Hall), and recorded. He has worked closely with overtone singer Rollin Rachele, tenors James Gilchrist and Daniel Norman and soprano Olivia Robinson.

He has recently completed two commissions for the London Chamber Orchestra and the Guild of Horn Players. Both involve James Gilchrist and natural horn specialist, Pip Eastop, and are scheduled to be premiered at St John’s Smith Square, London during the London Chamber Orchestra’s 2021/22 season. There are also plans for the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform and record his Harmoniae Naturales VI – featuring Daniel Norman, soprano Anna Dennis and three overtone singers – at Maida Vale Studios in London conducted by Martyn Brabbins.

He is currently collaborating with Gong Master and sound healer Christopher Triplett exploring the unique sound of horn and gongs. He is also planning to write a Sci-Fi themed opera involving overtone singing and conventional vocal techniques and the resulting rich sonic possibilities. 

Nicholas has held the position of Co-principal Horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2000, and appears regularly as guest principal horn with many other ensembles.

“Nicholas Korth is a composer with a unique vision. His creative exploration of harmony and sound is individual, fascinating and powerful. Using the natural overtone system – in instrumental and in vocal contexts – creates sound worlds of great individuality and originality. Nicholas is very sensitive and refined in all the musical choices he makes. Be it the texts he chooses to set, or the musicians he collaborates with in his projects. Given that Nicholas, who is a fabulous principal horn in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, has the energy, commitment and vision to compose such individual music, is something extraordinary. I have great admiration for Nicholas as a colleague and as a composer of integrity and great skill.”

Martyn Brabbins, music director, English National Opera

“Korth has an amazing ability in his compositions to weave the best of Western music idioms with the intricacies of overtone ratios creating a uniquely beautiful sound palate that haunts and exhilarates at the same time.”

Rollin Rachele, overtone singer

“Korth’s fascinating score made me feel that I was both listening to alien music from outer space, and to something familiar all at the sametime.”

Giles Woodford, Oxford Times

Nicholas grew up surrounded by the natural beauty of the Ashdown Forest in Sussex and influenced by the creative environment of the local Rudolf Steiner school (Michael Hall). During the early nineties he wrote for the English Eurythmy Theatre who toured extensively in the USA and Europe with productions The Winds of Time and Storm’s Child.

War’s Embers, his settings of Ivor Gurney, was premiered in 2004 at the Wigmore Hall by tenor James Gilchrist, with Emily Pailthorpe, oboe d’amore and Julian Milford, piano. His series of compositions Harmoniae Naturales, explores his long-held fascination with natural tuning.  Numbers I – III were written and premiered between 2005 – 2009. 2013 saw the world premier of Harmoniae Naturales IV, Luminescence, given by the Orpheus Sinfonia, cellist Tom Carroll and tenor Nigel Robson at St. George’s Hanover square, London. Also featured in this concert was …like Shining from Shook Foil, a setting of Hopkins’ transcendental poetry for soprano and orchestra with Olivia Robinson.

In 2015, the St. Paul’s Sinfonia featured Nicholas as their composer-in-residence performing both Harmoniae Narurales IV and V, to Autumn. Harmoniae Naturales VI, a full-length work for soprano, tenor, overtone singers and orchestra – again involving Hopkins’ poetry – was premiered in 2019. The venue once more was St George’s, Hanover Square with the Orpheus Sinfonia conducted by Simon Wills, soprano Patricia Auchterlonie, tenor Daniel Norman and overtone singers Rollin Rachele, Wolfgang Saus, Lothar Berger and Jan Heinke.

“The audience was (literally) enveloped, but transported, by the experience of a sound world new to all of them.”

Michael Bordeaux, Iffley Music Society

“Korth’s exploration of overtones in his music gives it a unique, haunting flavour. It is unlike anything else I have ever come across.”

Douglas Paterson, Schubert Ensemble

“Taking part in a performance of Nicholas Korth’s music with Olivia Robinson and the Orpheus Sinfonia was quite simply one of the most exciting and inspirational experiences I have had in many a long year.”

Michael Thompson, conductor and horn professor at the Royal Academy of Music