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A gifted composer and arranger whose résumé includes contemporary classical pieces, film and television scores, and arrangements for leading pop musicians, Joby Talbot was born in Wimbledon, London on August 25, 1971. Talbot grew up in the South London community of Mitcham, and was something of a prodigy, receiving a scholarship to study music at King's College School in Wimbledon when he was just eight years of age. Talbot was already proficient on the piano and the oboe, and he went on to receive a Bachelor of Music degree from the Royal Holloway University of London, and a Master of Music (Composition) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1993, he began working with the band the Divine Comedy, playing keyboards and writing orchestral arrangements for their albums.
By the mid-'90s, Talbot was receiving frequent commissions for concert works, including Luminescence for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Falling, a cello piece written for Phillip Sheppard; and Incandescence, a piece for orchestra and percussion created for by the Brunel Ensemble. In 2004, he became the first ever Composer in Residence for the British radio outlet Classic FM. He received his first commission from the BBC Proms in 2002, composing an a cappella piece for the King's Singers titled The Wishing Tree. Talbot's second piece for the Proms was 2004's Sneaker Wave, debuted by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
In 1999, Talbot enjoyed a career breakthrough when he was hired to write the theme song and score episodes of the BBC comedy The League of Gentlemen. Talbot's work for The League of Gentlemen earned him the Royal Television Society Award for Best Title Theme, and the same year the British Film Institute commissioned him to compose a new score for Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 silent masterpiece The Lodger. Talbot would become an in-demand composer for feature films and television, writing music for the movies The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Penelope (2006), Hunky Dory (2011), Closed Circuit (2013), and Sing (2016), among others.
Talbot has also written a number of dance pieces and vocal works, working closely with noted choreographers Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon. Several of Talbot's Classic FM pieces were used to create McGregor's 2005 Royal Ballet production Chroma, as well as elements from Aluminum, an album in which Talbot created chamber orchestra arrangements for songs by the rock band the White Stripes. Talbot and McGregor also worked together on 2007's Genus for the Paris Opera Ballet, and 2008's Entity, debuted by McGregor's company Random Dance. With Wheeldon, Talbot adapted a score he wrote for the 1917 silent film The Dying Swan for a short piece, Fool's Paradise. Wheeldon and Talbot would also work together on two full-length productions. The first was a 2011 dance adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, commissioned in tandem by the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. In 2014, they debuted another production for the Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, an interpretation of William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. And in addition to The Wishing Tree, Talbot's compositions for voices include 1997's Finding Science, 2005's Path of Miracles, and 2012's Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity.
And while Talbot is a well-respected composer in the worlds of contemporary classical music and film scoring, he continued to collaborate with noted pop artists as an arranger and conductor. In addition to his frequent work with the Divine Comedy, Talbot's clients have included Paul McCartney (2005's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard), Air (2007's Pocket Symphony), Travis (2001's The Invisible Band and 2003's 12 Memories), Charlotte Gainsbourg (2006's 5:55), Tom Jones (1999's Reload), and Ute Lemper (2000's Punishing Kiss). ~ Mark Deming