More about the composer

Calum Carswell BA (hons) MMus

Calum Carswell is a Scottish composer of Contemporary Classical music. His compositional voice seeks to foster a sense of beauty by crafting rich timbres with emotional depth. This approach to music has been described by critics as ‘mystic and rather seductive’. As a neurodivergent, his compositional craft stands out, offering the listener a unique perspective of the world around them.

Carswell received an undergraduate degree in Theology, Music, and Worship from the London School of Theology before receiving a scholarship to study for an MMus in Vocal Music at the University of Aberdeen. Following this, as the recipient of the Ogston Postgraduate Music Scholarship, he undertook a PhD under the supervision of the royal composer Paul Mealor.

Shortly after being commissioned by St Paul’s Birmingham to write a requiem for the centenary of WWI in 2014, Carswell took up the post of Composer in Residence for the historic choir. During his time at the church, he wrote a full choral evensong that was premiered at a publicised event. Carswell also worked with the All Souls Orchestra in London to perform his piece Striped Sumatran. In 2017, he was chosen to feature on Coro Volante’s critically acclaimed album ‘New Choral Voices Vol.3’. In conjunction with Screen South, he also composed the soundtrack for the ‘Headless Population’ animation project for BBC Four. His work has also been performed extensively by choirs, ensembles, and orchestras across the UK.

Carswell’s music often draws inspiration from his travels – his piano piece Lützelsee depicts an alpine lake where he went swimming with friends, his orchestral work Schloss Neuschwanstein draws inspiration from the Bavarian castle’s tumultuous history, and The Rainforest and the Friends was inspired by his short time in Vanuatu. Carswell’s Scottish heritage is another significant influence on his compositional voice – his choral piece For the Sea draws its inspiration from the North Sea around Aberdeen where he lived. His background in theology also gives him a unique insight into sacred music – his piece Smoke of Incense draws inspiration from images in Revelation, threading Ancient Greek passages amongst the English text. His theological approach to sacred music has often led to it being performed at the London School of Theology’s graduation service as a part of a theological response to the sermon.

He has worked with ensembles and choirs across the UK – he founded and conducted the Forward Worship Choir at St Philips’ and St James’ church in Solihull. In 2016, he co-founded and conducted the City Church Community Choir at Gilc Park Church in Aberdeen. Whilst he was a member of the chamber choir Viva Voce, he also assisted in its conducting. In addition to this, Carswell plays saxophone, piano, and sings, having performed in ensembles across the UK and Australia, including with Viva Voce at the Royal Albert Hall.

Calum has spent time living across the UK and Australia – he and his husband currently live with in Aberdeen with Charlie the dog.