DAVE DEXTER MUSIC
ORCHESTRAL, CLASSICAL AND CHORAL COMPOSITION
Dave Dexter (b.1985) now specialises in writing for live musicians - symphony orchestra, choir, quartets, baroque ensemble and more - but things started very differently. His musical beginnings were relatively late, teaching himself rock guitar in his teens, and from then beginning to compose and record guitar-centric music. At an age where most composers were graduating and beginning their first professional commissions, Dave was playing in a pub covers band and working on meandering rock songs, and remained in this rut until his mid-20s; both hoping for a career as a rock guitarist and knowing it was hopeless.
Three things knocked Dave into a different, better path. The first was beginning to work with midi and samples, allowing a far widened palette of expression. His focus moved towards electronic/retro chiptune genres and he began contacting mobile game developers, offering music for free in exchange for building a portfolio of credits - eventually leading to a short freelance career in composing for games.
The second was seeing the movie How To Train Your Dragon and falling for John Powell's rich, symphonic score. By Dave's late 20s, the electronic and guitar-based music he was writing for games was feeling increasingly restrictive as he produced more orchestral work - badly orchestrated and without any intent of engraving or performance, but orchestral nonetheless.
The third was entering the 2015 Christopher Brooks composition contest with the Liverpool Philharmonic, which required an engraved score. Not having had formal tuition, Dave's score was naturally riddled with mistakes, and when the inevitable rejection email arrived he took it hard. Setting himself the task of recording with a real orchestra, he stopped the rest of his composing work and set about asking questions - on forums, on twitter, emailing composers, conductors, musicians, hiring an orchestration tutor. By 2016 he recorded his first live pieces with a string quartet, then with an orchestra and later choir in 2017, subsequently getting airplay from Classic FM and BBC Radio 3 for two of these.
After more short orchestral sessions to cement his experience, he recorded for six hours with the City of Prague Philharmonic in 2018. In 2019 Dave was chosen with eleven other composers for ORA Singers' "Christmas Gift" initiative to have his setting of the medieval carol "I Sing Of A Maiden" rehearsed and recorded live under ORA's director/founder Suzi Digby OBE; at around the same time he received his first concert performance in Singapore. In 2020 Dave was shortlisted for Norwich Baroque's Losh-Atkinson competition with a two-movement work for strings and continuo - judging extended thanks to COVID-19 - and recorded his string orchestra tone poem "Hiraeth" with the Janáček Philharmonic.
Dave stands uneasily between wanting to compose scores for media and films (where being able to engrave your own scores isn't expected) and classical/choral works for churches, cathedrals and the concert hall (where being able to engrave your own scores doesn't make you special) but either way his voice is typified by a paranoid attention to detail, meticulous orchestration and a sense of traditional grandeur and beauty; whether for an orchestra of eighty or a choir of four.