Biographical Details

Tazul Izan Tajuddin was born in Banting in 1969, educated at St. John's Institution in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and has been a British resident since 1997. Taught himself guitar at 15, gained access to Western classical music at 18 and began composing at 24. He studied music at Universiti Teknologi MARA (Malaysia) and studied Western classical and Malaysian traditional music. He played in a traditional ensemble professionally between 1991 until 1993 performing, accompanying dancers and participating in Folk Arts Festivals in Malaysia, Indonesia and France. At the same time he joined National Choir of Malaysia as Malay folk arranger, assistant conductor and performer and later was invited as guest conductor in 1997 and again in 2003. He won a scholarship initiated by the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Culture and went to Carnegie Mellon University to study composition, graduating with Master's in Music Composition in 1996. He gained another scholarship and received his PhD in composition with 'The Study of Arabesque' in 2002 from the University of Sussex.

His music has been inspired by Asian cultures (especially Malaysian and Indonesian), decorative and visual arts, gamelan music and Islamic geometrical patterns combined with multi-cultural contemporary ideals. In particular, the 'Arabesque', 'Tenunan', 'Mediasi Ukiran' and 'Gamelbati' cycles are inspired by the concept of woven sound, resulting in texture-based compositions or 'sound fabric'. He worked out his own method of composing and considered himself self-taught though he later received valuable guidance from teachers Leonardo Balada, Juan Pablo Izqueirdo, Martin Butler, Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy, Franco Donatoni (Manuel de Falla Festival 1996, Spain), consultations with Brian Ferneyhough (IRCAM Academie d'ete 2001, France), meeting Iannis Xenakis in Pittsburgh and New York and in 1999 encouragement from Henri Dutilleux who described him as 'a very finely gifted composer.' In 2003 he was invited by Toshio Hosokawa to the Takefu International Music Festival in Japan.

He has received 1st Prize in the Lutoslawski Composition Award 2005 (Poland) with 'Gamelbati III' for string quartet, 1st Prize in the 21st Japan Society of Contemporary Music (JSCM) Competition 2004 with 'Mediasi Ukiran V-Tenunan XII' for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, 1st Prize in the 2nd Molinari Quartet International Composition Competition 2004 (Canada) with 'Mediasi Ukiran-Tenunan VIII' for string quartet, 1st Prize in the 8th Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition 2003 with 'Sebuah Tenunan IV' for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, 1st Prize in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Award 2002 (Joji Yuasa: jury) with 'Tenunan II' for flute, celeste, piano percussion and string orchestra and won the New Millennium Composition Award 2004/05 (United Kingdom) with 'Gamelbati-Mediasi Ukiran III' for gamelan ensemble and chamber orchestra. His other works also have been selected as finalist in the 4th Seoul International Competition for Composers 2006 (South Korea) with 'Gamelbati VI' for piccolo, clarinet, violin, viola and cello , EARPLAY Donald Aird Memorial Composer's Competition 2006 (San Francisco, USA) with 'Mediasi Ukiran-Tenunan VIII', Derek Shiel's Sound Sculpture Composition Competition 2001 (United Kingdom) with 'Mantera...', Edvard Grieg Composition Competition 2000 (Norway) and Carnegie Mellon Composer's Competition 1996 (USA).

He has been the first Malaysian composer to be shorlisted composer with the Society for Promotion of New Music three times in 2001, 2004 and 2007, from 2001-2004 with 'Jeritan' for string quartet, 2004-2007 with 'Arabesque IV-Tenunan VII' for solo guitar and 2007-2010 with 'Gamelbati III' for string quartet. His work Tenunan was selected by the Asian Composer’s League-Asian Music Festival, Tokyo in 2003. His work Tenunan for chamber ensemble was selected by the Asian Music Festival (Asian Composer's League-ACL) 2003 in Japan and Mantera... for solo flute and 2 percussionists was performed in the BBCSO-Gamelan Project 2004 and 'Mediasi Ukiran II' for orchestra was performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra. 'Kehalusan Ukiran' for chamber ensemble was selected in the spnm-London Sinfonietta Invention Day 2004 and broadcast with short interview on the BBC Radio 3. Also in the same year, he conducted a work commissioned by National Choir and National Symphony of Malaysia and performed at the National Arts Theatre, as the first composer to do so. In 2006, International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM) Britain selected his work Tenunan II for the ISCM World Music Days 2007 Hong Kong, representing both UK and Malaysia. Selindung Warna for solo violin was performed by David Alberman as part of spnm Solo Spotlights Project curated by Rolf Hind. His collaboration with writer, blogger, Alistair Appleton in spnm 'Space Behind Words' project resulting in performance of 'In Liquid Praise of Sound Refraining' for speaker, 4 singers and electronics at Wilton's Music Hall as part of the Spitalfields Music Festival in London. His piano and chamber orchestra 'Warna Yang Bernada' was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture to be performed at Cadogan Hall London in the 50th Malaysian Golden Anniversary Concert 2007 by Bobby Chen and London Sinfonietta. His work 'Laugh' was commissioned by Derek Shiel for the 100 years celebration of Futurist movement in a concert, 'The Futurist Updated' in 2009 as part of 'Noise Conference' hosted by the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. In 2010, Sebuah Pantun III has received repertoire honorary mentioned in the Carl von Ossietzky International Composition Competition (Germany). He was preliminary nominated for MERDEKA Award 2012, one of the most prestigious awards in Malaysia.

Performances include Self-Portrait (1996, Carnegie Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh), Ritual (1997, National Choir of Malaysia (NCM), Experimental Theatre, Kuala Lumpur), Tenunan II (2002, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Opera City Centre, NHK Radio Japan, 2003, Carnegie Philhamonic Orchestra, Carnegie Music Hall, USA, 2007, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, HK City Hall) Mantera Nadian Warna (Pulsating Colours) (2003, first Malay composer commissioned and performed by Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Petronas Twin Towers, KL), Meditasi Ritualistik…(2003, National Choir of Malaysia, National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia, National Arts Theatre, Kuala Lumpur) Kehalusan Ukiran (2004, London Sinfonietta, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, BBC Radio 3), Mediasi Ukiran II (2004, BBCSO, Maida Vale Studio), Mediasi Ukiran (2005, Molinari Quartet, Salle Redpath, Montreal, 2006, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ Amsterdam), Gamelbati (2006, Sir Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire), Gamelbati VI (2007, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, Seoul, South Korea), In Liquid Praise of Sound Refraining (2007, BBC Singers, Spitalfields Festival, London), Warna Yang Bernada for piano and ensemble was commissioned to celebrate the 50th Malaysian Anniversary Concert (2007, London Sinfonietta, Pierre Andre Valade, Cadogan Hall), Gamelbati VI (2008, Lackmuseum, Munster, Germany), Gamelbati III for string quartet (2009, XIII Lutoslawski Forum, Warsaw, Poland), Mimpi Dalam Lagu (2010, Kuala Lumpur, National Choir of Malaysia), Sebuah Pantun IV (2011, Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, 3rd Pharos International Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus), Sebuah Pantun V (2012, Bridges Collective Ensemble, University of Melbourne, Australia), Sebuah Pantun II (2013 Frontier+ Festival, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK), Sebuah Pantun VI for solo flute (SoundBridge Festival, Kuala Lumpur), Sebuah Pantun VII for oboe and piano (2014, Christopher Redgate, Frontiers+ Festival, UK), Arabesque - Tenunan VIII (2014, Magnus Andersson, 5th Malaysian Composers Series, Kuala Lumpur)  So far, he has written more than 50 works. His works have been performed in 16 countries and broadcasted in Asia, Europe, Australasia and North America. Performers of his works include BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Malaysian Symphony Orchestra, National Choir of Malaysia, Carnegie Philharmonic Orchestra, Carnegie Contemporary Ensemble, Alter Ego Ensemble, Molinari Quartet, Art Respirant Ensemble, Alpha Ensemble and Duo G. Selmi. He was the first Malay composer to conduct his own work at Istana Budaya (National Theatre of Malaysia) and to have an orchestral work commissioned and performed at Petronas Twin Towers concert hall in Malaysia. He has given lecture on 'Composing Without Borders - the Mediation of East and West' at University of Kingston, UCE Birmingham Conservatoire and University of the Arts, London among others. Tazul has also conducted his own works performing, collaborating and conducting with the Sculpted Sound Ensemble and artistic director Derek Shiel since 2000 untill 2009. In 2011 until 2014 he was guest composer at Pharos International Festival, Cyprus, University of Victoria, Wellington (Malay Studies and NZ School of Music), New Zealand and Frontier Plus Festival, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK.

He has received support from Malaysian Arts and Culture Department, Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Society for Promotiion of New Music (spnm now Sound and Music UK), Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, Performing Rights Society UK, Overseas Malaysian Executive Committee (London) and the Society of Lutoslawski. In 2010 as artistic director, he initiated, conducted and curated the 1st Malaysian Composers Concert Series, to promote students and young composers and performers to perform new works collaboration between UiTM and KL Performing Arts Centre (klpac) (Almost 100 short works have been premiered in its 5th year of the series now). The event has been attended by Malaysian prominent figures in education such as Tan Sri Arshad Ayob and Minister of Education II, Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh said in his foreword: ‘Creativity is the essence of success in today’s challenging world. Every culture is imbued with its own distinct musical and artistic expression that is passed from one generation to another, thus creating layers of heritage to be cherished by all. Composition is often regarded as the pinnacle of such expressions and its performance gives birth to valued creative acts. The 4th Malaysian Composer Concert Series 2013 is one such endeavor which the Ministry of Education applauds. It epitomizes deep thinking, honed music literacy, collaborative actions and stylistic performance engagement at a heighten level of artistic discourse by a new generation of intellectuals.’ 

His first opera production ‘Opera Puteri Saadong’ was premiered at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) in Jan and Penang Performing Arts Centre (Penangpac) in Feb 2015 was successful and very well received (Innovative cultural ornament, Malay Mail, 30 Jan 2015, ‘.. visionaries.’. Borneo Post, 30 Jan 2015, ‘‘benar-benar menggamit perasaan’,‘..berjaya mencuit tangkai hati penonton’, Kosmo, 11 Feb 2015, ..terpegun’..’cipta sejarah’.. Kosmo, 29 Jan 2015).

He was the first Malay composer to conduct his own work at Istana Budaya (National Theatre of Malaysia) and to have an orchestral work commissioned and performed at Petronas Twin Towers concert hall in Malaysia. He has given lecture on 'Composing Without Borders - the Mediation of East and West' at University of Kingston, UCE Birmingham Conservatoire and University of the Arts, London among others. Tazul has also conducted his own works performing, collaborating and conducting with the Sculpted Sound Ensemble and artistic director Derek Shiel since 2000 untill 2009. Between 2011 tol 2014 he was guest composer at Pharos International Festival, Cyprus (2011), University of Victoria, Wellington (Malay Studies and NZ School of Music, 2011), New Zealand and Frontier Plus Festival, Birmingham Conservatoire, UK (2013, 2014).

As conductor, Tazul started conducting in 1991 as assistant conductor of the National Choir, Malaysia and later in 1997 and 2003 he was invited as guest composer/conductor. He has conducted his own works with Carnegie Contemporary Ensemble (USA), National Choir of Malaysia, National Symphony Orchestra of Malaysia and from 2001 to 2009 Sculpted Sound Ensemble with artistic director Derek Shiel in London, UK. Since 2009, he has been conducting the UiTM Symphony Orchestra, Choir and Contemporary Music Ensemble as well as performed with UiTM Guitar Quartet. He also has conducted new works by Malaysian composers in the Malaysian Composers Concert Series since 2010 and other composers from Uzbekistan, England, Italy and Germany.

As a researcher, he has received FRGS and EGRS research grants from Malaysian Higher Education on Malaysian traditional music such as Keroncong and Mak Yong. He received major funding Creative Industry grant from Ministry of Culture to work on his opera project (2012-2015). In 2009, he has been appointed Associate Professor in Composition at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and has since participated in a number of the University's events. Tazul was head of Composition Program (2011-2014) and Associate Professor in Composition at Faculty of Music, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM). He was Vice-President and President for the Society of Malaysian Contemporary Composers (SMCC) from 2010-2014, in rotational basis and now currently it’s Vice-President since 2014. He is also Artistic Director of Malaysian Composers Concert Series since 2010. In 2015-2016 he will be Visiting Scholar at Harvard University. (Edited March 2015)


Click here for video/sound extract of 'Selindung Warna' for solo violin posted by spnm:

(April 2015)