Q&A: Meet composer Francisco Coll

Francisco Coll (b. Valencia, 1985) studied at the Valencia and Madrid Conservatoires before moving to London as a pupil of Thomas Adès, and a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Coll’s music has received the advocacy of some of the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Ensemble intercontemporain and London Sinfonietta.

His chamber opera Café Kafka premiered to great acclaim in 2014 whilst Hidd’n Blue has been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, SWR Sinfonieorchester, Munich Philharmonic and the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra.

Highlights of 2016 included Coll’s BBC Proms debut with his Four Iberian Miniatures, the premiere of Mural by the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and a Harpsichord Concerto for Mahan Esfahani. Future plans include a Violin Concerto and a second chamber opera – a modern adaptation of Lope de Vega’s La Dama Boba to a libretto by Meredith Oakes.

What do you hope NYO Musicians will bring to the performance of your piece Mural?

I have heard many good things about the NYO from people who I really trust. I am very much looking forward to these concerts in August, and I’m sure they will be full of the particular freshness and energy that young people can bring.

What were you like as a teenage musician?

I spent my teens studying the trombone. I was improvising all the time with my instrument, as well as at the piano. I made some attempts at composing, but most of the manuscripts were left unfinished. I was actually painting more than composing during my childhood and early teens.

When did you know you wanted to spend your career writing music?

It wasn’t until my late teens that I had a strong feeling about writing music. That said, I still think as a painter when I write music; I build the music in layers, like with oil on canvas.

Francisco Coll’s painting of the Swiss Alps which he made just after completing Mural. In his programme note Francisco describes that in the last movement of Mural ‘Mountains are seen as cathedrals’ – it was the Alps that was the inspiration here.



What was your most exciting audience experience of your teenage years?

When I was 10 years old my father took me to a concert of Christian Lindberg. We didn’t have tickets, but my father managed to get us in. It was my first time in a big hall, my first time listening to a professional orchestra live, and my first encounter with an amazing trombone player. The shock was significant.

What’s your number one tip for teenage composers?

Listen to as much music as you can. Just as the good novelist has first to be a good reader, before one becomes a good composer it is crucial to be a good listener.

Any more words of wisdom for teenage musicians?

Be patient.

Hear NYO give the first UK performance of Francisco Coll's new piece Mural this summer at Snape Maltings Concert Hall (3 Aug), Symphony Hall, Birmingham (4 Aug) and at the BBC Proms (5 Aug). BOOK TICKETS

Click here to read more about Mural, and other repertoire in our summer tour.

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