'Voice, text, theatre: towards a new monodrama'
Robert Fokkens is a South African composer based in the UK. His music has been performed in many major venues in the UK (including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and Royal Festival Hall), South Africa, Australia, the USA, Japan, and across Europe; and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio, Swedish Radio P2 and various South African radio stations.
In 2015, Robert’s chamber opera The Application was premiered in Cape Town by Cape Town Opera in collaboration with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Cape Town Opera School. Other performers of his music include conductors Pierre-André Valade, Martyn Brabbins, Ludovic Morlot, Gérard Korsten and Tim Murray; violinists Ernst Kovacic, Harriet Mackenzie, and Darragh Morgan; cellists Oliver Coates and Robin Michael; singers Ian Partridge, Claire Booth, Sarah Dacey and Patricia Rozario; flautists Carla Rees and Liesl Stoltz; and ensembles such as EXAUDI, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the South African National Youth Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Trio Fibonacci, juice vocal trio, Tête à Tête Opera, Chroma, rarescale, Retorica, and the Fidelio Trio. His music is published by Composers Edition and Tetractys Publishing, and his debut CD of chamber music – Tracing Lines – is available on the Métier label.
Robert gives regular masterclasses and presentations on his work, both in the UK – most recently at Birmingham Conservatoire, Leeds College of Music and Bristol, York, Birmingham and Cardiff Universities – and in South Africa (at the universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Pretoria and the North-West), where he was also composer-in-residence for the New Music South Africa Indabas in 2008 and 2015 and for the South African National Youth Orchestra Courses in 2005 and 2013. He studied at the University of Cape Town and at the Royal Academy of Music, also holding the Manson Fellowship at the RAM in 2001-2002. During his studies he had lessons and masterclasses with many composers, including George Crumb, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Ades, Simon Bainbridge, Poul Ruders, Peter Klatzow, Peter Louis van Dijk and Mauricio Kagel. He completed his PhD at the University of Southampton in 2007, where he was supervised by Michael Finnissy.
In recent years Robert has received commissions from organisations including the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Arts Council Ireland, and the SAMRO Foundation, and his studies were funded by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the South African Music Rights Organisation, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Overseas Research Scheme UK, and the Royal Academy of Music. His doctoral studies were largely funded by a University of Southampton Major Studentship.
Robert is a Senior Lecturer in Composition and Director of the Contemprary Music Group at Cardiff University, and he was recently appointed an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.