Alastair White is a Scottish composer and writer. Described as “spellbinding” (Boulezian), “beautiful” (730 Review), “virtuosic” (Winnipeg Free Press), "deftly manic" (American Record Guide) and "passionately atonal" (Gramophone), his work is characterised by a lyrical complexity which draws influence from fashion, machines, cosmological descriptions, radical politics and materialist philosophy. Recent projects include the operas WEAR and ROBE (to be released by Métier Records Winter 2020), and a string quartet for the Altius Quartet’s album Quadrants Vol. 3 (out now on Navona Records).
Shortlisted for a Scottish Award for New Music twice (in 2019 and 2020) and a Creative Edinburgh Award (2019), Alastair has created work for the opera festivals Tête-a-Tête and Opera in the City, the international poetry festival STanza, The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance and The Scottish Poetry Library. His music has been supported by Help Musicians UK, the Hinrichsen Foundation, the Goldsmiths Graduate Fund and Music Research Committee, and he is a PARMA Recordings Artist.
Alastair was a founding member of the Edinburgh-based bands White Heath (Electric Honey) and Blank Comrade (Red Wharf), and has worked as a session pianist and producer. He has published a range of articles on political musicology, and speaks internationally about his research interests. He is currently undertaking a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London with Roger Redgate and Lauren Redhead.
Accomplishment in both musical writing and performances was undeniable, even spellbinding. Had this been a song-cycle – or cantata – I should have been gripped, but staging...left one in no doubt that this was not only an opera, but an opera of rare imagination – and success. I am keen to hear more. - Mark Berry, Boulezian
Undeniably, WEAR is a beautiful show...I wholly look forward to what this talented company conjure up next. - Sam Lawrence, The 730 Review
White's music has an intriguing elaboration to it, with instruments and voices executing striking arabesques, jagged and angular, and the resulting textures successfully evoked the strange abstract world of cyberspace, creating a real sense of non-reality…The performances from all concerned were excellent. - Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
A passionately atonal essay about time. - Gramophone
A virtuosic showstopper. - Winnipeg Free Press
There are some real gems here...Alastair White’s Two Panels for String Quartet deftly switches between two wildly different sound worlds in a manic, musical dialog. - American Record Guide
Alastair White’s Two Panels is conceived around polar opposities related to the sense of chaos or line, as well as components of time and space (which may also connect to registral considerations). Harmonically we move toward a more atonal expression...Certainly, this is another fine exploration of modern writing for string quartets that should be of interest to fans of this genre. The music is certainly quite engaging throughout. - Steven A. Kennedy, Cinemusical
Completely atonal but not necessarily 12-tone, and I was very happy to hear that he knows how to use this technique to create music and not just a labyrinth of sound that confuses the listener. Complex and modern as it is, it also has good form and structure and, in places, shows a sense of humour. - Lynn René Bayley, The Art Music Lounge.
The ideas and dynamics, the go-for-it approach, the instrumentation, the fearless and erratic arrangement of each song was refreshingly new, daring, and immediate in its impact. After a lifetime in and around the music industry and having become numb to the never ending cart loads of re-shaped, re-fashioned, re-visited, and regurgitated plagiarisms from the musical mountains of the past's 'golden age', hearing their work was an absolute delight. - Graham Bowers