Born in Yorkshire in 1945, Vic Hoyland's earliest interests were painting, calligraphy and architecture, but after completing an Arts degree at Hull University, he decided to concentrate on music. He undertook a doctorate at York University where his tutors were Robert Sherlaw Johnson and Bernard Rands. From 1980-1983 he was Haywood Fellow at at Birmingham University; then after two years at York University he returned to the music department at Birmingham as senior lecturer. He was subsequently Professor in Composition at Birmingham until his retirement in 2011.
Commissions have come from many festivals - Aldeburgh, Almeida, Bath, Cheltenham, Huddersfield, South Bank and York - from organisations such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra and groups such as Lontano, the Arditti Quartet, Lindsay Quartet, BCMG, Endymion and Vocem. Works include Vixen for large orchestra which, together with In Transit, was recorded by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for NMC Records. Much of Vic Hoyland's music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The second work in his orchestral triptych, Qibti, was premiered at the Barbican on 18 December 2003. His piece for flute and piano, 'Sicilian Vespas' was written in 2006 and first performed at Stratford Music Festival. May 2008 saw the premiere of 'Pierrot', a tribute to Pierre Boulez. On 3 June 2009 'Token' was premiered by the Endymion Ensemble at King's Place. The third and final part of Vic's orchestral triptych, Phoenix, was premiered on 28 January 2009, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3. 'Hey Presto!', for 10 players, was given its world premiere by the BCMG, conducted by Diego Masson, on 16 October 2009 at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham. Vic's most recent work is 'Omer for Melinda and Simon' (2012). He is currently working on 'WULF' for 24 voices and 24 instruments, from his new abode in the North Yorkshire moors.
"...one of the most distinctive voices of his generation in British music... Hoyland studied at York University in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There his main composition teacher was Bernard Rands, and it was Rands' enthusiasms for all things Italian (Rands had been taught by Dallapiccola and Berio) that left the most indelible impression on Hoyland's music. Other composers went into the stylistic blender as well - diverse influences like Satie, Stravinsky, Feldman - but it was the music of Berio and Donatoni especially that shaped his music most tellingly. Yet from the start all these ingredients were integrated into a highly personal language. Hoyland's music has always been modernist rather than post-modern, and, though his preoccupations have changed - in the early 1980s he was fascinated by music theatre, more recently he has concentrated on abstract instrumental works - its unforbidding rigour and sonorous beauty have been constants." Andrew Clements, The Guardian, on In Transit / Vixen, CD of the Week
"Vic Hoyland is a composer's composer. For thirty years he has influenced the thinking of successive generations of students and young professional composers in the UK. .... His flawless technical skill and extraordinary ear for sonority is matched by a unique musical and theatrical imagination. Though a confirmed modernist, he is not a composer who has constructed or learned a formula and continued to exploit it. Rather he delights in the pursuit of discovery and experiment, and he conveys that delight in works which speak with bold directness and musical clarity."
Roger Marsh, Introduction to In Transit . Vixen, NMC D072
"Hoyland's work should have been placed between Brahms's Second Symphony and Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen - the usual sandwich technique. But an inspired last-minute decision was taken to change the order to Brahms, Mahler, Hoyland - which said everything about debts: Mahler's to Brahms, and Hoyland's to Mahler.
"Hoyland, a product of the heady 1970s York University Music Department, has written a powerfully expansive work. It evokes the spirit of Mahler in its use of predominantly dark harmonic colours, sensuous use of sustained strings, and high muted trumpet, while embracing the force of Messiaen with gongs, tam-tam, marimba and crotales. An oddly successful (and original) synthesis of German and French sensibilities refracted through British eyes."
Annette Morreau, on 'A-Vixen-A', The Independent, July 1997
"The adjective "coruscating" is too often used of music, but is certainly applicable here, from first to last."
Paul Driver on Phoenix, The Times
Biography copyright UYMP, 2013
Photo by Richard Kalina