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David Fanshawe Biography

David Fanshawe

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Born: 1942. Died: 2010. Lived in: England

David Fanshawe, a Churchill Fellow and the recipient of many international awards, was an internationally distinguished composer, ethno-musicologist, sound recordist, archivist, performer, dynamic and entertaining lecturer, record producer, photographer and author. Also widely known for his lead roles in documentaries; a TV, radio and public personality extraordinaire, he is acclaimed as "one of the world's most original composers."

David Fanshawe was born in 1942 in Devon, England and was educated at St George's Choir School and Stowe. In 1959 he joined the Film Producers Guild in London gaining valuable experience as a documentary film editor and recordist. In 1965, he won a Foundation Scholarship to the Royal College of Music, studying composition with John Lambert. He gained national recognition in 1970, as cantor soloist and composer, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with Salaams, a work based on the rhythms of the Bahrain pearl divers. His ambition to record indigenous folk music began in the Middle East, in and was intensified on subsequent journeys through North and East Africa (1969-75) resulting in his unique and highly original blend of Music and Travel. In Africa he succeeded in documenting hundreds of tribes, achieving such close rapport with local communities that they gave him special permission to record their performances. His work has been the subject of unique albums, concerts and award-winning BBC TV documentaries: African Sanctus, Arabian Fantasy, Musical Mariner (National Geographic) and recently Tropical Beat.

Compositions feature his highly acclaimed choral and archival work African Sanctus. Composed now 30 years ago, this celebratory and visionary work has received thousands of performances world-wide, from the Sydney Opera House to The Kennedy Centre, Liszt Academy in Hungary to Brazil, South Africa and the Royal Albert Hall.. Other concert works include: Dover Castle, Salaams, The Awakening, Requiem for Aberfan, Dona Nobis Pacem - A Hymn for World Peace, Tarka the Otter, Serenata, Epitaphs, Christmas music and his paean to the new millennium Fanfare to Planet Earth and Millennium March. Newest works, Trafalgar and Lament of the Seas (based on the Asian Tsunami).Commercial composing includes title and incidental music for over 50 Film and TV productions, includes: BBC's When the Boat Comes In. ITV's Flambards and Rank's Tarka the Otter. His ethnic field recordings have featured in countless TV documentaries and also feature films including: Seven Years in Tibet and Gangs of New York.

His motivational guest speaking has received international acclaim at Festivals, in many educational programmes and corporate events. He is described as "an incredible communicator with fantastic energy" "with a wide repertoire of multimedia presentations - suitable for all age groups and occasions, in today's multi-cultural and evolving world. His work has also been the subject of BBC TV biographical documentaries and radio shows, broadcast internationally including: African Sanctus, Arabian Fantasy, Musical Mariner (National Geographic) and Tropical Beat. Since 1978, his ten year odyssey, recording across the Pacific Ocean has resulted in a monumental archive, The Fanshawe Collections, comprising thousands of hours of stereo tapes, slides and hand-written journals, preserving for posterity the music and oral traditions of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia and South East Asia. He has released many CD compilations from the Fanshawe Collections, including Music of the South Pacific, Spirit of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, Music of the Nile, Thailand and Laos.

David Fanshawe married Judith C. Grant in 1971, they have two children Alexander and Rebecca. He married his second wife Jane in 1985, they have one daughter Rachel and live in Wiltshire, England, home of the Fanshawe Collections. Current projects include copying and cataloguing his Pacific Collections, whilst composing his new major work Pacific Odyssey for a world premiere in the Sydney Opera House. Meanwhile his latest work "Pacific Song" was recently premiered at the American Choral Directors' National Convention by the Multicultural Honor Choir.

In 2009 The University of the West of England awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music to David Fanshawe in recognition of his outstanding contribution to bringing music from around the world into the lives of people who neither read nor write music and to his pursuit of musical excellence, which is synonymous with the aims of the University's Centre for Performing Arts. David Fanshawe said, "This award I proudly accept in the spirit of the University's ethos bettertogether. In my serendipitous career, through the adventures of Music and Travel, I have been privileged to experience our world as a composer and musical explorer. It is now my humble dream to go on sharing my aspirations with future generations, through the legacy of my Sound Archives; and by fulfilling my life's missions, which are: to celebrate the universal language of music; to record for posterity endangered World Music, threatened with extinction; to seek inspiration for my own compositions - thus uniting musical worlds apart. Thank you for this quite unexpected honour and tribute.

Media Articles
Obituary, Daily Telegraph, David Fanshawe

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