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Dr Craig Vear

Job: Professor of Digital Performance (Music)

Faculty: Art, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Visual and Performing Arts

Research group(s): Music Technology and Innovation; Performance and Digital Media

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8131




Personal profile

Craig Vear (1970) is a composer and musician working predominantly in contemporary, experimental, improvised and electroacoustic music for the concert hall, multi-media installation and stage. He studied composition under Gavin Bryars, Dave Smith and Joe Duddell. His compositions have been described as 'pioneering', and 'hugely exciting' (John Metcalf MBE, artistic director Vale of Glamorgan Festival), with 'abstract spirituality' (

Vear generally works with found materials, making compositions using computers that allow the individual sounds to be free, taking the careful listener on a journey along channels of memory and imagination, expressing the continuity and fluidity of thought. His open works are inspired by John Cage, Gavin Bryars, Morton Feldman and Christophe Charles and use computers that generate live software scores to determine the outcome of the composition through performance. Musicians describe this co-operative approach as '90% poetry' (Audrey Riley, M.D. Icebreaker Ensemble), 'extremely liberating' (Christopher O'Gorman, tenor), and 'taking on a heightened significance' (James Woodrow, guitarist); and his integrated soundscapes described as 'Multi-layered and keeping the interest in the listening throughout' (Francisco Lopez, composer and sound artist).

Recordings of his compositions have been released on several international labels such as Mille Platueax (Germany), Earth Ear (US) , 3 Leaves (Hungary), Gruenrekorder (Germany), Palm Pictures (UK), Universal (UK) and, as producer for David Lumsdaine's The Big Meeting, NMC records (UK). His forthcoming release, Sketches from a Black Cat will be released on AR Records (UK) in 2016.

In 2015 Vear was commissioned by Icebreaker Ensemble to create False Start, inspired by the painting of the same name by Jasper Johns. This was premiered at the Audiograft festival in the same year. In 2014, he was commissioned by Audrey Riley to create Black Cats and Blues a 50' Hyper-media concerto for solo cello and digital technology, interweaving short stories of Boris Vian with media projection and interactive soundscapes. In the same year, Quicksilver was commissioned by Kyma International Sound Symposium and premiered in Lubeck, Germany, in response to Thomas Mann's Doktor Fautus. In 2012, Vear was commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan festival to create Three Last Letters a 'play for musicians' that imagines the final moments in the minds of Cpt. Scott, Dr. Wilson and Lt. Bowers, and created to commemorate the centenary of their death in Antarctica.

In 2010, he was commissioned by the Laurence Sterne Trust, York Theatre Royal and Arts Council England to compose a Digital Opera based on Laurence Sterne's book A Sentimental Journey (1768). In the same year, he was commissioned by Exhibition Road Cultural Group and PRS Foundation to create Flow in celebration of World Music Day and the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Ismaili Centre, London.

Superfield [Mumbai] (2009), commissioned by Bradford Mela and Mumbai Festival, incorporated found sounds and music from the streets of Mumbai weeks after the terrorist attacks of 2008. During 2003-4, he held the Arts Council England Fellowship with the British Antarctic Survey, which resulted in the large-scale composition Antarctica, and 5 Antarctic Solitudes created from his Polar field recordings. In 1997, he co-founded the pop group Cousteau, which made 300,000 sales worldwide and gained a gold disc.

He co-founded the duo ev2 with Jonathan Eato in 1992 (, who explore the musical spaces between jazz, free improvisation, contemporary composition, electro-acoustic composition and multi-media performance environments. In 2005 they received a commission from the Falkland Islands to produce a 20 minute piece for ev2, computer technologies, a mixed ensemble of student musicians.

He has composed music for many theatre productions including York Theatre Royal, Unicorn Theatre London, David Glass Company, Leicester Haymarket and Theatre Rites. In 2006, Unicorn Theatre commissioned Play: Antarctica, a 70-minute play developing his 'Sound Theatre' work. In 2011 Vear was part of the creative team that won the Olivier Award for Best Production for The Railway Children he was also nominated for an Olivier award and a Canadian DORA award for best sound design.

He has worked closely with dance companies for several decades. In 2012, he was commissioned by English National Ballet and Seven Sisters Group to create Like A Fish Out of Water for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. He collaborated with the visual artist Sophia Clist on 'Stretch' a site-specific project bringing together sculpture, dance, music and physical theatre, creating a dynamic artwork that explores questions of real-time interaction and the nature of interdisciplinary performance through improvisation.

He has created sound installation and sound art for the Royal Festival Hall, British Library, Bloomsbury Festival, Chicago Humanities Festival. 'Singing Ringing Buoy', an installation at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, was shortlisted for the £50,000 PRS New Music Award 2005. During 2007-8, he held a Leverhulme Fellowship as artist in residence with the University of Hull. He is currently Reader (associate professor) of music and performing arts at De Montfort University, UK. He has a funding portfolio in excess of £300k, from Arts Council England, NESTA, NERC, Gulbenkian Foundations, Leverhulme Trust, and PRS Foundation.

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs 

Click here to view a full listing of Craig Vear's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Intermedia composition, digital opera, sound theatre, experimental composition, interdisciplinary music.

Areas of teaching

1010 devising in performance and digital arts
2010 perspectives in performance and digital arts
2011 collaborative project 1
2012 Principles in performance and digital arts
3010 research project
3013 collaborative project 2
3015 improvisation and performance
3017 performance and interactive technologies
MUST2006 music technology and performance


1992 BA (Hons) Performing Arts (Music) – De Montfort University (nee Leicester Polytechnic)

2006 PGCE – University of Huddersfield

2011 Ph. D. – composition portfolio – University of Salford

Courses taught

  • Performing Arts BA (Hons) 

Honours and awards

2011    Winner OLIVIER Award Best Entertainment (as core design team for Railway Children)

2011    Nomination OLIVIER Award Best Sound Design

2011    Nomination Canadian DORA Award for Best sound design and composition (with Christopher Madin)

2009    Finalist VII CONFLUENCIAS – electroacoustic competition 2009

2008    Longlist: PRSF New Music Award 2008

2007    Leverhulme Artist in Residence – Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences (University of Hull) 

Membership of professional associations and societies

PRS/MCPS; Jan 2002, Full membership


Forthcoming events

2012 Three Last Letters (composition for live sextet, voices and diffused soundscape)
Commissioned by Vale of Glamorgan Festival
Premiere: Barry Arts Depot (7th May 2012)
Duration: 35’

2012 Like A Fish Out of Water
Commissioned by English National Ballet, Cultural Olympiad 2012, in association with Seven Sisters Group
Premiere: Brockwell Lido, July 23rd 2012
Duration: 35’

Conference attendance

Symposium co-organiser (with Dr Áine Sheil Department of Music, University of York) Digital Opera: New Means and New Meanings <> 9-10 May 2011, University of York Music Research Centre

‘Exploring a Theatre of Sounds and Memory’ + performance of Superfield [Mumbai] TaPRA, University of Plymouth, 8 September 2009

‘Superfield [Mumbai] - the see-hearing dimension of sound art’ I Hear Too (Improving Heritage Experience through Acoustic Reality and Audio Research) conference at the British Library 18 May 2009

‘The acoustic DNA of Mumbai and Antarctica’ Theatre Noise conference, Central School of Speech and Drama, 25 April 2009

‘Staging Sounds: The Intersection of Music and Theatre’ RMA research Students Conference, Kings College, London, 9 January 2009

Popular Music Research Centre Colloquium, University of Salford, 30 October 2008

Externally funded research grants information

2012 Three Last Letters commission PI

2012 A Sentimental Journey premiere PI (including York Theatre Royal funding  

2011 Found Voices Tipping Point Commission, R&D (PI with Joe Duddell)  

2011 Found Voices BBC Philharmonic commitment (PI with Joe Duddell)  

2010 A Sentimental Journey R&D – ACE Grants for the Arts:  

2009 Superfield [Mumbai] commission, Bradford City Council:  

2008 Research Bursary University of Salford:

Case studies

2010-12 The Railway Children (as core production member: Sound Designer/ multi speaker diffusion)

  • Simultaneous performances London (2010, 11), Toronto (2011)
  • Audience numbers IRO 500,000
  • Olivier award for Best Entertainment 2011 LINK
  • Olivier nomination for Best Sound Design 2011 LINK
  • Canadian DORA Award nomination for best sound design/ composition 2011 LINK

Publication on CD

2012 Esk (Album). Craig Vear 3Leaves. Reviews at

2011 Antarctica (Album). Craig Vear, Gruenrekorder Digital Download. Reviews at 

2010 Summer Houses. (Album). Craig Vear, Mille Plateuax MPCLU01. Reviews at  Total sales IRO 600

2010 Aud Raplh Roas’le (Album). Craig Vear, Gruenrekorder. Reviews at  Limited Edition Sold Out

Additionally, from 2010 Earth Ear are the distributor for Antarctica DVD/Book/CD in North America and Asia , and from 2012 Gruenrekorder will distribute to Europe and Africa. Total 

2012 Raghu Dixit unplugged in York - Producer of live album. Release spring 2012 estimated sales IRO 20,000+

2010 Big Meeting by David Lumsdaine (as mastering producer). Reviews at LINK sales IRO 700

Craig Vear

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