Helen Grime

Helen Grime (born 1981) is a Scottish composer whose work, Virga, was selected as one of the best ten new classical works of the 2000s by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Though she was born in York, England, Grime's parents returned to Scotland with her when she was a baby, and spent her early years in Ellon, Aberdeenshire.[1] Her grandparents were music teachers in Macduff, Aberdeenshire. Her mother taught music at St. Margaret's School, Edinburgh.[2]

As a youth, Grime learned the oboe[3] with John Anderson, whilst her sister Frances learned violin. Grime began music studies at age 9 at the City of Edinburgh Music School, and continued at age 17 at St Mary's Music School.[4] She played the oboe in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. She started to compose from age 12,[5] where her teachers included Hafliði Hallgrímsson.[6]

Grime continued formal studies at the Royal College of Music (RCM), where she studied composition with Julian Anderson and Edwin Roxburgh and played oboe in the RCM Sinfonietta and RCM Baroque Orchestra. She earned first-class honours and a master's degree from the RCM in 2004. Her other composition teachers included Sally Beamish and Jennifer Martin.[1] She was a 2008 Leonard Bernstein Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center (USA). Grime was a Legal and General Junior Fellow at the Royal College of Music from 2007 to 2009. She became a lecturer in composition at the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, in January 2010.

Grime's compositions include an oboe concerto, for which she herself was the soloist in its world premiere,[1] written on commission from the Meadows Chamber Orchestra (Edinburgh), and for which she won a "Making Music" prize in the British Composer Awards. Other works have included Virga (2007), commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra and later performed at The Proms in August 2009.[7]A Cold Spring (2009) was commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and premiered 20 June at Aldeburgh Festival, conducted by Oliver Knussen.[2] The BBC commissioned her work Everyone Sang for the 75th anniversary of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in 2010. In 2010, she was signed to Chester Music for publication of her music.[8] In February 2011, she was named the next associate composer of The Hallé Orchestra, starting in autumn 2011, for a contracted period of three years.[5]

Selected compositions

  • Doorstepping Susanna, Chamber Opera for soprano, counter-tenor, bass, bass clarinet, double bass and percussion (2002)
  • Virga (2007)[9]
  • Everyone Sang (2010)
  • Night Songs (2012)
  • Near Midnight (2013)
  • Two Eardley Pictures for Orchestra (1. Catterline in Winter, 2. Snow) (2016)
Chamber and ensemble music
  • 5 Miniatures (1996)[6]
  • Quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (2002)
  • Romance for violin and piano (2003)
  • Blurred Edges for flute (piccolo), clarinet (bass clarinet), violin, cello, harp and piano (2004)
  • Chasing Butterflies for 100 violas (8-part ensemble) (2004)
  • Song for Seven Instruments (2004)
  • Quartet (2004)
  • Elegiac Inflections for wind ensemble (2005)
  • 5 Movements for cello and piano (2005)
  • YKSITOISTA for chamber ensemble (2005)
  • Into the Faded Air for 2 violin, 2 violas and 2 cellos (2007)
  • The Brook Sings Loud for violin, cello and piano (2008)
  • Piano Trio (2008)
  • A Cold Spring for chamber ensemble (2009)[13]
  • To See the Summer Sky for violin and viola (2009)[10]
  • Fantasie, Danse, Cérémonie for flute and harp (2010)
  • 7 Pierrot Miniatures for flute (piccolo), clarinet (bass clarinet), violin (viola), cello and piano (2010)[14]
  • Luna for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, percussion and piano (2011)
  • The Flash of Fireflies in Folds of Darkness (2004)
  • Harp of the North (2004)
  • Entwined Channels for 2 pianos (2006)
  • 10 Miniatures (2009)
  • A Vision for soprano, clarinet, violin and cello (2000)
  • A Last Look for soprano and piano (2002)
  • In the Mist for tenor and piano (2008)
  • Nobody Comes for voice and piano (2008)
  • Lachrymae for chorus a cappella (2005)


  1. Michael Tumelty (19 January 2010). "A rising star who is thoroughly composed". The Herald. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  2. Tim Cornwell (31 March 2010). "How this 28-year-old Scot wrote some of best classical music of 21st century". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  3. Margaret Vaughan (30 January 1997). "Band of hope amid the madness". The Herald. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  4. Kenny Mathieson (12 February 1999). "Music: St Mary's Music School, Glasgow University". The Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  5. Andrew Clark (1 December 2010). "New traditionalist". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  6. Michael Tumelty (17 January 1997). "Peter Evans, Concert Hall, Glasgow University". The Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  7. http://www.bcmg.org.uk/commissioning/past-commissions/helen-grime/
  8. Michael Tumelty (1 December 2010). "New star remains perfectly composed". The Herald. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  9. Andrew Clements (9 August 2009). "Prom 30 – BBCSO/Knussen (Royal Albert Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  10. George Hall (26 January 2010). "Music of Today/Philharmonia/Segerstam". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  11. Wilson, Francis (12 October 2016). "Meet the Artist... Helen Grime, Composer". The Cross Eyed Pianist (Blog). Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  12. "In the Studio - British percussionist Colin Currie". Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  13. Andrew Clements (27 January 2010). "BCMG/Knussen (BCSO Centre, Birmingham)". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
  14. Rowena Smith (16 March 2010). "Hebrides Ensemble (Traverse, Edinburgh)". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2011.
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