Jonathan Dove is best known as a composer of operas and choral music. His airport-comedy Flight ("one of the few successful comic operas of recent musical history" The Sunday Times) was premičred at Glyndebourne in 1998 and broadcast on Channel 4; a recording is available on Chandos. The Glyndebourne production of Flight has toured Europe and new productions have followed in the USA and Germany – all meeting with an enthusiastic response from both audiences and music critics. In 2005 Flight was seen in Boston and again at Glyndebourne, in March 2006 it received its Australian premičre during the Adelaide Festival for which it won the Helpmann Award for Best Opera.
Dove has written over a dozen operas, including Siren Song and L’Augellino Belverde, which received its highly acclaimed UK premičre by the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in June 2005. He has also written four large-scale community operas and a church opera, Tobias and the Angel , which re-opened the Young Vic's renovated theatre in October 2006. The Young Vic also presented The Enchanted Pig, a musical fairy tale, as its Christmas Show in December 2006 / January 2007 with subsequent tour around the UK.
Dove's television opera When she died... was first broadcast in 2002 to an audience of nearly a million viewers in the UK alone and a staged version was premičred at Kammeroper Vienna in March 2007. Man on the Moon, a TV opera about the first moon-landing, was first broadcast on Channel 4 in Decemeber 2006 and won the Opera Special Prize at the Rose d’Or Festival for Television Programming in 2007 and a Gold Medal at the Park City Film Music Festival 2008. Kwasi & Kwame, a chamber opera adapted by Arthur Japin from his bestselling novel The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi,was commissioned by Opera OT Rotterdam and toured the Netherlands from October 2007 until April 2008. Opera North and Sadler’s Wells commissioned The Adventures of Pinocchio, which premičred in December 2007 in Leeds with subsequent tour around the UK. Pinocchio, the recipient of the British Composer Award for Stage works in 2008, was staged by Minnesota Opera in 2009.
The opera L’altra Euridice is one of several works written for period instruments, including La dama ed il pulitore di Damasco and Le porte di Bagdad (all three of them operas for Musica Nel Chiostro); Dove completed this cycle of period instrument operas with an adaptation of Chaucer’s 'The Shipman’s Tale', An Old Way to Pay New Debts, in October 2006; Figures in the Garden and The Middleham Jewel were both written for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; and the Bach-inspired Köthener Messe, for the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin.
Dove’s choral music includes a song cycle, The Passing of the Year, and several anthems and carols, among them The Three Kings, commissioned by King’s College Cambridge, and The Far Theatricals of Day, settings of Emily Dickinson for soloists, choir, brass quintet and organ. His most recent works are The Darkling Thrush, commissioned by Trinity College Cambridge and It sounded as if the Streets were running with poems by Emily Dickinson for the Farnham Youth Choir. London Symphony Chorus will premičre a full orchestrated version of The Passing of the Year in the 2008 season. Solo song-cycles include Five Am’rous Sighs,Ariel, All You Who Sleep Tonight, Out of Winter, Minterne and All the Future Days.
Recent instrumental commissions include Airport Scenes, an orchestral suite from Flight, and Hojoki, a dramatic cantata for counter-tenor and orchestra which was premičred by Lawrence Zazzo and the BBCSO under Jiri Belohlavek in September 2006. Dove’s instrumental works also include two quartets (the string quartet, Out of Time and the saxophone quartet, Tuning In), three concertos – Stargazer, a trombone concerto which was premičred by Ian Bousfield and the London Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas in March 2007; Moonlight Revels, for saxophone, trumpet and strings; and the Mozart-inspired flute concerto, The Magic Flute Dances; and the orchestral overture Run to the Edge, The Crocodiamond (or Rita and the Wolf) for narrator and orchestra, and Across the Walls for brass and percussion.
Coming from a family of architects, Dove’s work has often been associated with buildings. He wrote music for the opening ceremonies of the Millennium Dome and the Millennium Bridge and provided the score for a film about the architect Carlo Scarpa. Film and architecture come together in one of his latest projects, Work in Progress, 14 site-visits for piano and orchestra, composed for the opening season of The Sage Gateshead (the new music- centre designed by Norman Foster) which also incorporated a film of the building process.
The activity of building features in two of the three community operas he wrote for Glyndebourne, and also in The Palace in the Sky, a community opera produced at the Hackney Empire by English National Opera and Hackney Music Development Trust. Dove’s commitment to working in the community is also shown in The Hackney Chronicles, an opera for primary school children for Hackney Music Development Trust; Dove also collaborated with the Trust on Hear Our Voice, a cantata developed with young people setting writings of children of the Holocaust. On Spital Fields, a Community Cantata for 200 performers, received its premičre in the 2005 Spitalfields Festival and won a RPS as well as a British Composer Award. Dove has a long-standing relationship with the Spitalfields Festival and was its artistic director from December 2001 until July 2006. Spitalfields Festival won a RPS Award as Best Festival for the 2006 festivals (summer and winter).
Acknowledged as a highly-accomplished composer of theatre-music, Dove has written for the National Theatre (most recently providing music for His Dark Materials), for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and for the New York Shakespeare Festival. He has written scores for over thirty plays, has been Music Adviser to the Almeida Theatre since 1990 and is an Associate of the National Theatre. Films include Venus Peter and Prague. In 1998 Dove was joint winner of the Christopher Whelen Award for his work in the fields of theatre music and opera, and in 2008 he received the Ivor Novello Award for Classical Music.