biography

Born in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Amber Priestley has lived in the U.K. since 1991. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sussex, and her doctorate in composition at the University of York. Some recent performances include: And Yet Something Shines, Something Sings in that Silence (Bozzini Quartet, Composer’s Kitchen 2013); There, I’ve said it, I’ve put my cards on the table. (London Sinfonietta commission); Floors are Flowers, Take a Few (EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Tectonics Festival 2014); and And Yet Something Shines, Something Sings in that Silence. (The Royal Norwegian Navy Band, Borealis Festival 2015).

The majority of her work deals directly with musicians performing both music and theatre. Some of this forms a very small portion of the performance (for example, choreographed page turns) or a fundamental portion of the performance (such as where the music is the least important element, with the focus on the various movements of the musicians).

Another of her major preoccupations lies in open-form scores. In 1932, the American photographer Edward Weston wrote that photography "is not all seeing in the sense that the eye sees…Our vision is in a constant state of flux, while the camera captures and fixes forever a single, isolated, condition of the moment." As in photography, most concert music is also an attempt to define a certain time (in music it is the length of the piece of music). This certain length of time will be very similar each time it is experienced in most music. Amber is interested in trying to allow again for a possibility where time is not fixed, and each time a piece is experienced, the music has the chance to be different. The other separate reason that Amber is interested in open-form scores is that she would like, without use of traditional jazz-style improvisation, to allow for the performer's own individuality to emerge through her scores.

Amber is particularly fascinated by the visual aspect of a completed score, especially simple but elegant staves which are, in fact, stripes! She finds these stripes to be æsthetically pleasing and add to the joy of composition.

press reviews

"The second [was] a piece of music composed by Amber Priestley under the Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM). This music, as the composer described it as 'disjointed', was embarrassing to listen to." - Sue Young, Anchorage Way, Whitby Gazette

"Amber Priestley's installation, 'That I Overlooked Before', invited visitors to interfere with a room full of tape recorders playing a snatch of a jazz vocal refrain, creating a satisfyingly analogue, tactile and genuinely interactive experience as the room's sonics degenerated from clarity to cacophony over the course of an afternoon." - Daniel Spicer, The Wire