Frederick Viner

Composer and pianist

United Kingdom

Author

About

Born in Tunbridge Wells in 1994, Frederick Viner studied composition at the University of York (BA 2016) and at the University of Oxford (MSt 2017). Having recently completed his tenure as Eton College Composer in Residence, he is now studying towards a PhD at the University of York as a WRoCAH scholar.

Viner’s music has received many accolades. In 2015, whilst an undergraduate at the University of York, his Bagatelle won the Ebor Organ Prize and was published by Banks in the Ebor Organ Album – Seven Pieces for Seven Decades. In 2016 Viner was awarded first prize in the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Mozart’s of Tomorrow competition for Sleeping Gomatz, which the judging panel described as ‘ravishing’ and ‘constantly engaging’.

After graduating from York with distinction, he was appointed Artist in Residence with Sage Gateshead’s Young Sinfonia and was also commissioned to write the closing piece for the Brundibár Arts Festival. In 2017, during his time in Oxford, Viner won first prize in William Howard’s Love Song Composing Competition with Herz an Herz, chosen from 152 compositions submitted anonymously from 61 countries. In 2017 he was also awarded The Henfrey Composition Prize for Bells Wrung, as well as the prestigious National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award for Prayer from Afar, which was performed at Bridgewater Hall by the Tallis Scholars and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

In 2018 he was commissioned by Choir & Organ Magazine, Orchestra for the Earth, Borough New Music, Northern Praeclassica and pianist Jakob Fichert. In 2019 his music was performed by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra, the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, the Gromoglasova Piano Duo and internationally renowned organist David Goode. In 2020 he was awarded the STR Music Composition Prize (sponsored by Sean Rourke) for his piece The Annunciation, as well as the LeFanu Composition Prize for his Etude I: Mirie it is.

Between 2020-21, his recent piano work ‘Something She’d Like’ was performed worldwide – in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Austria and Thailand – by world-class pianists including Paul Barton and Vadim Chaimovich.

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Just about everything. Cliched but true. It’s a profession, hobby, comfort and bane all wrapped up in one mysterious package. A religion too, perhaps?

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

For me, music feels like a science – something to puzzle and work through logically – as well as a fantasy – something to daydream with your critical faculties disengaged.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Maybe an astronomer. If only I‘d paid more attention at school...

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

This probably goes for concert audiences, but I’m not sure whether this applies to those vast and growing audiences who experience classical music online. I worry about the former, but am of course delighted about the latter.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Music is essential, and this will never change. What will change is how, where and why we hear it (less on the radio and more on youtube, for example).

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

Many pop artists don’t have any trouble selling out stadiums packed full of young people, proving that they are willing to go out and hear live music. If classical musicians start getting even a fraction of the coverage and support that they deserve then maybe things would look a little different.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

My process involves caffiene, crying and creative cul-de-sacs, and that’s only the first half-hour. I’ve been very satisfied with some of the intermediate piano miniatures I’ve composed – Something She’d Like, for example – as they’re great fun to write and have been quite well received, by family and friends but also total strangers.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Forget every stereotype you know. ‘Classical‘ is an umbrella term that encapsulates an entire musical universe. And the chances are you already know much of it, either through film, tv or videogames. Do yourself a favour and listen to just one Beethoven sonata, Chopin nocturne or Rachmaninoff concerto – you won’t need any more convincing after that.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Of course! But first and foremost I compose to my own tastes. I figure that if I like it, at least a few others might too.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I’m extremely excited about my upcoming album, Keeping On, which consists of five intermediate piano pieces. It was purely a passion project that kept me going over the last year, and I’ve dedicated each of the pieces to people who’ve helped support me in various ways.

Other than that, I’ve got some new youtube videos in the works with guest stars! Be sure to subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/c/FrederickViner to stay up to date.