The following was provided by the composer by Email in June 2004.
Richard Orton was born in Derby in 1940, and after leaving school at sixteen to work in a
bank, he later went on to take piano teaching and class teaching diplomas at the
Birmingham School of Music; after a year's teaching in Stourbridge he won a Choral
Scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge, and sang tenor in the College Chapel Choir
for four years while taking the B.A. and Mus. B. degrees in Music.
His appointment as a Lecturer in Music at the University of York in 1967 enabled him to
pioneer and establish the University's Electronic Music Studio (EMS) in 1968. The studio
began as a 'classical' tape studio, but later adopted the technologies of the
voltage-controlled synthesizer, and digital systems. He proposed the Project teaching
system which is still the basis of teaching at York, and which has been emulated by many
University Music departments around the world. In 1986 he founded, with his Electronics
colleague Ross Kirk, the courses in Music Technology, first at postgraduate, and later at
undergraduate level. The EMS has been very successful in its students; many studio
directors around the world have studied or worked there. On taking early retirement from
the University of York in 1998, he was honoured by the University with a lifetime Emeritus
During his teachings at the University Orton wrote a considerable number of works
emerging as a significant figure in contemporary music. His work is challenging and yet
highly accessible; intellectually rigorous and exceptionally beautiful. His music for
instruments and live electronics remain some of the most accomplished works in this field.
Richard Orton established the Mediamix series of concerts, which combine performances
of electroacoustic compositions with film, dance and other performance media. He was a
co-founder of the Composer's Desktop Project, which placed affordable sound
technologies on the individual composer's desk. He also developed musical composition
software, which formed part of the CDP system. In 1992 he began working on his
algorithmic composition language, Tabula Vigilans, which he is still developing and using to
create new works.
Major life changes occurred at the beginning of the New Millennium when he moved to
Willoughby-on-the-Wolds, where he now lives with his partner Rae Davies. He continues
to work in his computer-based Hayloft Studio in a new phase of musical productivity.
On a personal note, I was greatly flattered by Dr. Richard Orton on his sending me a copy of his Opus 73, Pyramid Consort
for recorder quintet to be considered for use by Bremen Recorder Touring Company
. I wa saddened to learn of his death in 2013.
||Biography by wikipedia.org.