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Professor Darren Sproston
Head of Performing Arts and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Media
Darren Sproston is a composer, musicologist and educationalist whose musical interests range from Mauchaut to mashup, Josquin to jazz and Elektra to electronica. He is Head of the Department of Performing Arts and across his career has been lucky enough to collaborate with performers, dancers, choreographers, playwrights and directors.
2005 - Accredited as Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
1993 - University of Sheffield: PhD in original composition
1991 - University of Sheffield: Master of Music with distinction
1990 - University of Sheffield: Bachelor of Music: First Class Honours
Darren Sproston was born in Stafford and while studying at the University of Sheffield was awarded the Phillip John Lord Composition Prize, and the Mrs Stewart Blake Dissertation Prize. He continued his studies under Professor David Harold Cox and obtained his Master of Music degree in composition and musicology. This was funded by a British Academy Postgraduate Scholarship. A second scholarship was given in order for further study, resulting in Darren becoming the first composer to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in original composition from the University of Sheffield.
Darren's first full-time post was at the University of Bradford where he was the Fellow in Music. He returned to the Midlands as Head of Music at Rowley Regis College, and following this he was appointed as Principal Lecturer and Head of Music at the University of Wolverhampton. At Leeds College of Music he held the position of Head of Research, Postgraduate Studies and Classical Music for three years before moving to the University of Chester where he is Head of Performing Arts and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Media.
Darren has been integral to the development of a range of music curricular since starting teaching in Higher Education in 1990, including Classical undergraduate courses and postgraduate composition, performance and musicigological programmes. He has shown particular interest over the last decade in the development of Popular Music in HE, and has led the validation of Popular Music (or Pop-related) undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Wolverhampton University and Leeds College of Music; external examined at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, London College of Music, Open University, Canterbury Christ Church University and the British Academy of New Music; and acted as external panel member for the validation of courses at: Royal Northern College of Music; Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama; Colchester Institute; South East Essex College; and West Suffolk College.
Throughout his career Darren has taught across a wide range of areas at all levels. His undergraduate teaching includes composition/songwriting, twentieth century musicology (European and American), performance, music and the moving image, music technology, music and multimedia, popular music theory and popular music analysis. He has supervised dissertations across a range of areas including John Cage, Philip Glass operas, Steve Reich, film music, Joe Satriani, Dream Theatre and twentieth century performance practice. At postgraduate level he has taught composition (classical, jazz and studio composition), twentieth century analytical techniques, supervised dissertations across classical and popular music. He has supervised three postgraduate research students through to successful completion in original composition.
Darren's research is both practice-based and ‘traditional’. He is a composer and musicologist and has been able to sustain practice in both of these disciplines alongside roles which have been predominantly management orientated. As a composer he has received performances in a variety of venues ranging from Firth Hall in Sheffield to the Moscow State Theatre. A number of ensembles (including the English Serenata, Serenata Winds and Northern Saxophone Quartet) and soloists (such as Richard Ingham, Alan Cuckston and Rhodri Davies) have performed his music. He has composed in numerous genres including orchestral, chamber, vocal, electro-acoustic and solo instrument with fixed media.
Darren's principal areas of musicological research have been into the serial techniques of Stravinsky (analysing all of the post 1951 serial compositions) and Roberto Gerhard (his four symphonies and Concerto for Orchestra), and he has presented papers both nationally and internationally in these areas. He has recently written a Chapter on Gerhard's symphonies which is to be published as part of The Roberto Gerhard Companion (Ashgate). Further research interests include analytical methodologies for Popular Music, Minimalism and Film Music.
Performances of Compositions: