John Woolrich is a much commissioned and frequently performed composer, a creative teacher and an original programmer, he is an important figure in British musical life.
Woolrich founded a group, the Composers Ensemble, and a festival, Hoxton New Music Days. In 1994 he was appointed the first Composer in Association to the Orchestra of St John’s, a post he held until 2000. His successful collaborations with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group led to his appointment in the 2002/3 season as an Artist-in-Association. He was Guest Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival in 2004 and Associate Artistic Director of the festival 2005–2010. In 2010 Woolrich was appointed the Artistic Director at Dartington International Summer School, and Professor of Music at Brunel University.
Throughout the 1990s, Woolrich had a string of prestigious orchestral commissions which resulted in some of his most important works: his concertos for viola, oboe and cello. A CD of the viola and oboe concertos on the NMC label attracted particular attention and was acclaimed as the BBC’s ‘Record of the Week’. Other orchestral pieces written during this period include The Ghost in the Machine (1990), premiered in Japan with Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Si Va Facendo Notte which the Barbican Centre commissioned to celebrate the Mozart European Journey Project. In 2001, Woolrich undertook a music theatre commission from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Trestle Theatre Company which resulted in Bitter Fruit, a masque for mime actors and ensemble.
Recent pieces include Capriccio for violin and strings commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble, Between the Hammer and the Anvil for the London Sinfonietta, a violin concerto for the Northern Sinfonia featuring Carolin Widmann and Falling Down, a double-bassoon concerto commission by the Feeney Trust for the CBSO and Margaret Cookhorn.