Alastair White (b.1988) is a Scottish composer and writer. His work is characterised by a lyrical complexity which draws influence from technology, science, politics and materialism. It has been described as “explosive” (Opera Magazine), "passionately atonal" (Gramophone) and an attempt “to challenge long-held assumptions about the material world and to illuminate the performative nature of matter itself” (Opera Today).
Notable projects include the fashion-opera cycle of WEAR, ROBE, WOAD and RUNE (“excellent" — BBC Music Magazine, “spellbinding” — Boulezian); a string quartet for the Altius Quartet’s album Quadrants Vol. 3; the documentary opera A Boat in an Endless Blue Sea; The Drowning Shore, a Scots-Yiddish cantata; and #CAPITAL, the first opera to be performed in the metaverse ("an impressive Gesamtkunstwerk [which] shows all that the future will make possible” — Schön Magazine). He is a regular collaborator with the Ljubljana-based .abeceda [new music ensemble], for which he has written solo, chamber and orchestral pieces including Antemusic–Music, Again as part of the group’s work with the Maribor Conservatory of Music and Ballet. His music is available on several full-length releases from Métier and Navona, and his scores are published by UMP.
Recipient of the Tait Memorial Trust Award, and shortlisted twice for a Scottish Award for New Music (in 2019 and 2020) a Creative Edinburgh Award (2019) and an Ivan Juritz Prize (2023), Alastair has created work for the opera festivals Tête-à-Tête and Opera in the City, the international poetry festival STanza, Metaverse Fashion Week, FASHIONCLASH, Tsitsit, UKNA, The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance and The Scottish Poetry Library. Through his production company UU Studios, he has collaborated with brands such as CHENPENG, Derek Lawlor, KA WA KEY, Michael Stewart, Renli Su, Sybarite and Tommy Zhong. His music has been featured on Radio 3 and Klara Radio, and is supported by Help Musicians UK, The Hinrichsen Foundation, The Hope Scott Trust, The Marchus Trust, The Royal Musical Association, The RVW Trust, The Sarah Caple Scholarship, TONG, and The Goldsmiths Graduate School Fund and Music Research Committee.
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 scored a variety of media, including the feature film Treasure Trapped, as well as TV campaigns for the Scottish Green Party and the NCCA UK. Often using his own texts for opera and song, he has had poetry featured in journals such as Lallans, Pomegranate and DIN, and created original installations for festivals on the relationship between music and language. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Classical Music Magazine.
He teaches composition at the University of Surrey and holds a PhD in Music from Goldsmiths, University of London. Alongside this, Alastair publishes and speaks internationally on his research interests, which include the theory of contingency dialectics and its methodological implications in fashion-opera, as well as musicological studies of contemporary composition. Recent publications include work on Carter and Jameson (Società Editrice di Musicologia); Speculative Archaeoacoustics; Finnissy and Lacan (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre); and Ferneyhough (Göttingen Studies in Musicology).