At the debut concert of the London Sinfonietta in 1968, John Tavener's dramatic cantata THE WHALE took its audience by storm and led to Tavener's music being recorded on The Beatles' Apple label. Since that time Tavener has continued to show an originality of concept and an intensely personal idiom making his a voice quite distinct from those of his contemporaries.

His growing interest in the Russian Orthodox Church, which he joined in 1977, marked a significant change in his style of composition. Increasingly, his influences looked back to ancient Tradition as he worked towards the creation of an icon in sound. Major works of the 1980s and early 1990s include the ORTHODOX VIGIL SERVICE and the AKATHIST OF THANKSGIVING, which was given a standing ovation in Westminster Abbey at its premiere in 1988. The Virgin Classics recording of THE PROTECTING VEIL for solo cello and strings with Steven Isserlis was awarded a Gramophone Award in 1992. Large-scale choral and orchestral works include RESURRECTION and an opera for the 1992 Aldeburgh Festival, MARY OF EGYPT which was recorded by Collins Classics.

The enormous popularity of Tavener's music is reflected by the number of arts festivals which have featured his music including Perth, Athens, West Cork, Toronto, St Nazaire and the BBC's Tavener Festival which celebrated the composer's 50th birthday. Recent commissions include SVYATI (1995) for Steven Isserlis, the recording of which was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize in 1997; THE HIDDEN FACE (1996) for the City of London Sinfonia; THE LAST DISCOURSE (1997) premiered at St Paul's Cathedral in March 1998; ETERNITY'S SUNRISE (1997), commissioned by the Academy of Ancient Music and premiered at the City of London Festival in 1998; and the epic FALL AND RESURRECTION, premiered at St Paul's Cathedral in January 2000; his book "The Music of Silence - A Composer's Testament" is published by Faber & Faber. In October 2000, London's South Bank Centre presented "Ikons of Light", a major three-week festival dedicated to his music.

Combined with his reflective spirit, John Tavener has an engaging humour which is never far from the surface. This is captured in both Glimpses of Paradise (1992), a documentary by director Geoffrey Haydon and The South Bank Show, broadcast on ITV on Easter Day 1998 and subsequently released on video.

There are many CD recordings of John Tavener's music available on record labels including Sony, Virgin Classics, EMI, BMG, Collins Classics, Hyperion, Linn Records, Nimbus and Chandos. In April 1999 Harmonia Mundi released ETERNITY'S SUNRISE a disc which features five world premiere recordings of Tavener works performed by the Academy of Ancient Music.

Tavener received a Knighthood in the 2000 New Year's Honours list for "Services to Music".

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