Michael Berkeley

English composer, broadcaster, festival director and politician Michael Berkeley was born on 29 May 1948. His father was the composer Lennox Berkeley. Michael was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and studied composition, piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music and then studied composition with Richard Rodney Bennett. He won the 1977 Guinness Prize for Composition.

Notable compositions include the oratorio Or Shall We Die?, the orchestral work The Garden of Earthly Delights, the operas Baa Baa Black Sheep and Jane Eyre, the chamber opera For You, and the choral works Listen, listen O my child and the Magna Carta Te Deum.

Berkeley worked as a continuity announcer for BBC Radio 3 (1974-79) and still broadcasts regularly for the channel. From 2000 until 2009 he was composer-in-association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He was artistic director of the Cheltenham Music Festival (1995-2004) and is president of the Presteigne Festival.  From 2013 he has been a crossbencher in the upper house of the United Kingdom Parliament, where he has successfully instigated an important amendment to the Children Act 1989 and has spoken about arts education and the challenges facing touring musicians.


A selection of articles about Michael Berkeley

Profile. A Spiritual Journey - Roderic Dunnett takes an extended look at the career of English composer Ian Venables, and listens to a recent performance of the orchestral version of his Requiem

CD Spotlight. Meditative yet Impassioned - Music for solo cor anglais, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'The playing in this collection of small pieces is exemplary and inspiring ...'

CD Spotlight. Major Voices - Vocal and choral music by Lennox and Michael Berkeley, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... thrilling performance.'

Ensemble. Very Effective - Igor Stravinsky's 'The Soldier's Tale' at the Presteigne Festival, reviewed by Keith Bramich

Ensemble. Brilliantly Dispatched - Ian McEwan and Michael Berkeley's 'For You', reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi

Ensemble. Soirées musicales - Mariella Devia and the Twilight of Bel Canto, heard by Giuseppe Pennisi

Ensemble. Alert Playing - A recital for oboe and harp, heard by Mike Wheeler

Ensemble. Compact and Imaginative - Judith Bingham's 'Shakespeare Requiem' receives its first performance, heard by Patric Standford

Ensemble. Coming of age - Keith Bramich at the twenty-first Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts

Classical objectivity? - Peter Dale reads 'The Music of Lennox Berkeley' by Peter Dickinson

A vacation in Welsh border country - Keith Bramich introduces our six day visit to the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts