Biography

Karen Wimhurst is a widely commissioned composer ranging from chamber works to music theatre and large-scale, collaborative productions.  She works across musical genres, bridging jazz, folk and contemporary classical ensembles. 

In the last five years she has been commissioned music by SoundStorm, Peninsula Arts, Communicado, Maran Productions, WNO, Bristol Choral Society, Electric Voice Theatre, Manchester International Arts, Red Earth, Manchester Camerata, Common Ground, Sage Gateshead, the Guild of Lillians, BBC Radio 4, Dorset Youth Jazz Orchestra, Taigh Chearsabagh.    

Inspired by culture, identity and the natural world she has a long-term association with the environmental charity Common Ground (resident composer on the Confluence Project 1999-2001) and is currently working on Apple Journeys in association with Cecil Sharp House and the National Trust, celebrating the 21st anniversary of Apple Day. 

Concerns about climate change, work with the Transition Town Movement and the national think tank Futerra have led to the creation of two new works ‘A Tipping Point’ and ‘HOT!’ and her new company EcoCentrics. 

In 2008-2009 she was resident composer with Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University working on a range of compositions and performances as well as lecturer and educator. Works included the music theatre piece, Darwin and the Barnacle; choral work We Breathe Trees; Floodlines for string orchestra, accordion and drum kit; the Arc of Possibility for brass ensemble and soprano. 

In 2009 she was an opening guest speaker at the Wellcome Trust conference ‘War and Memory’ who featured the Allegri Quartet performing her collaboration with the war veteran Norman Winchester ‘Memory Like Shells’

She also has a large portfolio of operatic, music-theatre and theatre productions as well as site-specific works.  Productions with Communicado have received 3 Fringe first awards as well as recently the Herald Angels 2003 Award for Mahler; Song and Dance Man with Maran productions

As a performer Karen has worked with a number of improvising, folk and jazz ensembles through the years.  In the 1990’s she founded the Cauld Blast Orchestra, recipient of two Scottish Jazz Awards.  Recently she has been performing with Zaum (‘the most exciting group in Europe today’ Penguin Guide to Jazz 2006), Misbehavin (with singer Helen Porter) and the 7 piece folk ensemble Big Top. 

Karen has worked extensively as a community composer and educator.  She has run programmes for Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and directed the Westminster Opera Team for English National Opera. Her innovative composition work with the elderly was the subject of Lillian Baylis Conference 1997.  She has worked with all age groups, from the under fives through to the over 90’s and all those in between!  She is a regular composition lecturer with the company ‘Distil’ and has run numerous composition and performance workshops throughout the schools curriculum as well as adult education classes. 

Karen’s work has been performed across the UK, Europe, America and Mexico as well as featured on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and ITV.