Christopher Mayo (b. 1980) is a Toronto-based composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal and electronic music. His work, variously described as “cogent, haunting and…desperately poignant” (The Times) and “a steampunk collection of gnarly machine-like noises, flashy timbres, and explosive rhythms” (Classical Voice North America), is characterized by its distinctive rhythmic language and wide range of diverse and eclectic inspirations.
Christopher’s symphonic works have been performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Victoria Symphony, Esprit Orchestra and Manchester Camerata where he served as Composer-in-Residence from 2012-2013. Christopher’s music has been conducted by Susanna Mälkki, François-Xavier Roth, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Nicholas Collon, Bramwell Tovey, Alan Pierson, Tania Miller, Jurjen Hempel and Andrew Gourlay, among others.
Christopher’s chamber music has been commissioned by London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, MATA Festival, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Ensemble contemporain de Montreal +, Motion Ensemble, Arraymusic, NMC Recordings, Aldeburgh Festival and the Royal Philharmonic Society. His works have additionally been performed by ensembles including ACME, L’arsenale, Aurora Orchestra, Aventa and Land’s End Ensemble, at festivals including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, the Cheltenham Festival and the Marrakech Biennale and at venues ranging from Le Poisson Rouge to Wigmore Hall.
An active composer of vocal music, Christopher’s Death on Three-Mile Creek, for three singers and ensemble, was commissioned by Carnegie Hall. The New York Times wrote that it “resourcefully evoked Appalachian folk styles, New Orleans funeral marches and the shifting pulses of drum 'n' bass electronica in setting aphoristic eulogies by Jonathan Williams”. Commissioned by Esprit Orchestra, Under Dark Water, for four singers and orchestra, sets a fragment of text from Toby Litt’s novel deadkidsongs and was described as “the clear stand-out of the night” (Musical Toronto) and “hypnotically beautiful” (ConcertoNet).
Christopher frequently collaborates with writers, directors, visual artists, filmmakers and choreographers. In recent years, he has been commissioned to create new dance scores by Rambert Dance Company, New Movement Collective and the English National Ballet for the Coronation Gala at Buckingham Palace. His chamber opera The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered was cited as a “deft mix of documentary, pulsating drones, electric guitar and sparing percussion” (BBC Music Magazine) and a “genre-exploding delight that succeeds in provoking new and exhilarating possibilities for the form.” (A Younger Theatre). Christopher is currently developing a new, one-act multimedia opera in collaboration with video artist Tal Rosner.
Christopher’s music has been commercially recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra who released his works Therma in 2013 and Panufnik Variations in 2016. NMC Recordings has released two of Christopher’s works, Supermarine, recorded by Aurora Orchestra in 2015, and The Fitful Alternations of the Rain on the 2013 album The NMC Songbook which went on to win the Classic FM Gramophone Award for Best Contemporary Album. Christopher’s music has been widely broadcast on television and radio including multiple broadcasts on BBC 1 Television, BBC Radio 3 and CBC Radio 2.
Based in the UK from 2003-2014, Christopher holds a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Julian Anderson and a PhD from the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Philip Cashian.