Awards for Artists
Image of Byron Wallen
Photo credit: Emile Holba

Byron Wallen

Byron Wallen (born 1969) was raised in a musical family and as a child studied classical piano, euphonium, trumpet, flute and drums. In the mid 1980’s the trumpet became Wallen’s primary instrument of choice.

Wallen’s first major work, Tarot Suite (1994), was inspired by a love of mythology and symbolism, which reflected the archetypal journey of human life through an interdisciplinary pan-continental approach.

Wallen’s study of cognitive psychology has aided his transition towards conceptualising music as a medium for healing. Wallen raises awareness and invokes change by unlocking boundaries through the nature and science of sound.

Widely recognised as a seminal figure in jazz, Wallen is an acclaimed writer and producer whose original scores have been commissioned by the Science Museum, PRS, BBC, Jerwood Foundation, Southbank Centre, National Theatre, Arts Council, FIFA and Sage Gateshead. He has also composed soundscapes for Universal Pictures, Warner Bros and HBO series Game of Thrones. He also received the BBC Jazz Innovation Award in 2003 and has been nominated several times for the MOBOs.

Wallen’s current PRS commission Anthem for Woolwich forges new links between schools, venues, musicians and residents to strengthen the resilience and promote the cohesion of the community.

To be nominated and awarded one of the most generous and meticulously researched arts awards in the UK is an incredible affirmation. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation award offers me the most valuable and beautiful gifts of all, time and opportunity: Time to explore the space in which to create, and the opportunities to establish the links and platforms for diverse collaborations and exchange. My journey as a composer and a humanitarian is governed by 'sound'; sound being the way I process and renegotiate the internal and external worlds, thoughts, feelings, conversations and behaviours. This award will prove to be a wonderful life-changing prospect of enormous value.

Examples of work

Lady, 2013

Tenor sax (Luc Mishalle), trumpet (Jean-Paul Estievenart, Byron Wallen), tuba (Pascal Rousseau), karkaba percussion (Rida Stitou, Driss Filali, Abderahmane Bouhamidy), drums (Rod Youngs). From album Tout Droit.
6 minutes 35 seconds duration (extract 2m 14s).
Commissioned by METX and ‘Marockin Brass’ music for tour in Flanders in 2013.

Fundamental, 2016

Guitar (Rob Luft), bass (Paul Michael), drums (Rod Youngs), track from Anthem for Woolwich released on Twilight Jaguar.
6 minutes 30 seconds duration (extract 2m).
Commissioned by the PRS for Music Production in 2016. The work has currently been played in festivals in Woolwich and Jazz Venues in London and Canterbury.

Snail Portrait, 2015

Voice (Shabnam Shabazi), Persian Setar (Shahin Shabazi), Keyboards, Production (Byron Wallen).
60 minutes, originally played on repeat for a live installation (extract 2m)
Commissioned by Spill Festival of Performance/Shabnam Shabazi

Crane on the Nest, 2002