Sinan Savaskan (born 11 August 1954) is a British composer of contemporary classical music. He works and lives in London, England, where he Composer in Residence for the Octandre Ensemble; an Executive Committee member of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA); and Head of Department for Academic Music at Westminster School where he has instituted an energetic new music programme and taught many gifted composers and instrumentalists in modern classical concert music who now follow successful careers, and a number who moved into the popular music sphere (such as Mika, Dido and Sub Focus).
In December 2015, he won the prestigious BRITISH COMPOSER AWARD - as organised by the British Academy of Composers, Songwriters and Authors (BASCA) and the BBC Radio 3 ----- Module 60 of his epic cycle Many stares through semi-nocturnal Zeiss-Blink was selected by the jury as the winner of the Large Chamber Music category.
"Savaşkan is a singular figure on the new music scene. His music employs highly personal pitch-time structuring methods, derived from notions of spatial perspective and architecture. This pitch-time technique was first displayed in his chamber works 'Many Stares Through Semi-Nocturnal Zeiss Blink' (1979) and 'Antedonia' (1980). The basis of the technique is the gradual circular rotation of pitch-classes moving at different speeds simultaneously; this rotation can be effected chromatically, micro-chromatically or through glissandi, or any combination of these. Since each rotating pitch-class may also be transposed through octave displacement, the resultant harmonic implications of three or more parts rotating in different directions at separate speeds can be quite complex and rich. 'Nodal' points are reached when two or more parts reach either a pure unison, or an octave, or some other simple consonance such as a perfect fifth, and these lend his music an unexpectedly clear sense of cadence at crucial structural points. In some pieces, such as the string quartet 'Speed/1969' (1986) the natural overtones of a rotating pitch may also be incorporated into the work's harmony. In others, such as the saxophone quartet 'The Street' (1982) the pitch-construction may incorporate elements from pre-existent popular or traditional musics.
Savaskan's first mature works were relatively strict in their applications of his pitch-time structuring methods. Since 1986, however, his music has exhibited greater surface exuberance and diversity, whilst not abandoning the conscientious structuring of earlier works (to this day he remains a committed Constructivist). The first piece to demonstrate this new direction was 'Panic in Needle Park', for string quartet and electronics, which is rhythmically propulsive and melodically more direct than anything he had previously composed. The Second Symphony 'Age of Analysis' (1997–98), premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra for Radio 3, is another work of this type. An impressive fusion of Savaskan's harmonic method with conventional symphonic form, this work proceeds from a relatively neutral starting point of gradual harmonic change to a tumultuous finale in which elements of traditional, possibly Caucasian / Turkic dance rhythms and other extraneous melodic-harmonic elements are joyously integrated into a continuously evolving form. As Savaskan's harmonic method arrives at a concluding 'nodal' point, the music ends flamboyantly with a definite sense of cadence in to the home pitch-class, E. The BBC selected this work as one of its entires in the 1999 Unesco International Rostrum of Composers. There have been other symphonies since then, and a powerful chamber work 'Unique strands, circular functions and Portofino', which was warmly reviewed at its London premiere in 2001."
Savaskan's music has been programmed widely by organisations and ensembles such as the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts, London) - in particular its fine 'MusICA' series run for many years by Adrian Jack, the BBC, Lontano, the Balanescu Quartet, the Smith Quartet, the S.E.M. Ensemble of New York, and such conductors as Martyn Brabbins, Zsolt Nagy and Petr Kotik.
Savaskan received a 1998 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
BBC Radio 3 "Between the Ears" programme featured Sinan Savaskan and his Symphony No. 3 'La Rosa Enflorece and the English Cadence' on Sunday, 19 May 2002 in a programme entitled "The Rise and Fall of The English Cadence" presented by Jeremy Summerly and produced by Antony Pitts.
Savaskan won the 1988 Dio Fund Award of Arts Council of Great Britain for Composition with his quartet for saxophones, The Street - originally commissioned and premiered by John Harle with his Myrha Saxophone Quartet.
He was the composer of the title track of the London Musicians Collective's first recording in 1981.
On Saturday, 27 October 2007, BBC Radio 3 celebrated its 40th year. Sinan Savaskan's 2nd Symphony 'The Age of Analysis' was featured as one of the ten most memorable pieces on Hear and Now's '40 Years of Radio 3: Two programmes marking 40 years of Radio 3 and its relationship with new classical music.'Sinan Savaskan was the Music Director and Composer for Oedipus Rex, University of Cambridge’s triennial production performed entirely in classical Greek at Performances at Arts Theatre, Cambridge, 11–16 October 2004; featuring a distinguished production team including Director Annie Castledine and Royal National Theatre’s Designer Stephen Brimson-Lewis. The event is held once every three years as the Cambridge Greek Play and is a tradition which started in 1882 - often involving music commissioned by well known composers of the day: R. Vaughan Williams, Parry, Wood, Stanford among them.
His other music for the theatre in recent years included Aristophanes' Lysistrata, The Birds, and The Frogs; Euripides' The Trojan Women; Sophocles' Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus; Plautus' The Rope; Molière's The Miser; Shakespeare's Pericles; Claudel's Partage de Midi; Terence's Phormio, and Adelphoe.
He acted as the Music Director for a work-in-progress film project on the life of composer Gesualdo, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and produced by Jeremy Thomas and screenplay by Mark Peploe.
He is a member of the Executive Committee of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and a composer member of the PRS/MCPS, London.
He holds a Doctorate from University of York, UK
In 2013, Savaskan composed the original score for the Portuguese-British feature film co-production The Invisible Life, directed by Vítor Gonçalves, which had its world premiere at the international competition of the 2013 Rome Film Festival.
In the early-2000s he acted as musical director for a film-in-production on the life of the Renaissance composer GESUALDO, directed by Bernardo Bertolluci, produced by Jeremy Thomas with a screenplay by the Oscar-winning writer Mark Peploe.