Nicholas Korth (b.1971) is a composer with a fascination for the extraordinary sound worlds of natural harmony and overtone singing, and a love for the setting of words. He lives in Hertfordshire with violinist Deborah Schlenther and their family.
As a member of the London Conchord Ensemble he has had much of his music performed (notably in the USA and at London’s Wigmore Hall) and recorded. He has worked closely with overtone singer Rollin Rachele, tenors James Gilchrist and Daniel Norman and soprano Olivia Robinson.
In 2020 he was commissioned by the London Chamber Orchestra and the Guild of Horn Players to write two works which feature the natural horn. Inscapes for tenor, natural horn and string orchestra was premiered on the 22nd of February this year at St John’s Smith Square, London. The LCO was conducted by Christopher Warren-Green with tenor Toby Spence and the composer as soloists. The performance, which included the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings by Benjamin Britten, will soon be available as an online stream. Midnight Rain, settings of Edward Thomas for tenor, natural horn, string quartet and keyboard will be premiered later in the orchestra’s current season.
There are also plans for the BBC Symphony Orchestra to perform and record his Harmoniae Naturales VI send my roots rain – featuring tenor Daniel Norman, soprano Anna Dennis and three overtone singers – at Maida Vale Studios in London conducted by Martyn Brabbins.
He has recently been appointed as Composer in Residence with the English Sinfonia. His first work in this role, Jubilare an Enigmatic Fanfare will be premiered at the Elgiva Theatre, Chesham on July 24th this year.
He is currently working on settings of Jehanne Mehta’s poetry for soprano, string quartet and Saturn Planet Gong, to be performed this Autumn by members of the English Sinfonia with the wonderful Emma Tring of the BBC Singers. He has also begun Osden, a Sci-Fi themed opera based on a short story by Ursula Le Guin, involving overtone singing and conventional vocal techniques and the resulting rich sonic possibilities. There are plans for the opera to be staged at the Elgiva Theatre in 2025.
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.
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
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.
Michael Bordeaux, Iffley Music Society
Douglas Paterson, Schubert Ensemble
Michael Thompson, conductor and horn professor at the Royal Academy of Music