Paul Henley

Paul Henley is from Worcester and trained at Birmingham School of Music (Birmingham Conservatoire) where he studied Singing, Piano, Trumpet and also Composition with Andrew Downes. He graduated with Honours in 1983 and also that year was co winner of the Birmingham and Midland Institute Prize for Composition. After graduating, he commenced a career as a freelance singer and is widely experienced in Opera, Concert and Recital work. Some of the opera companies he has sung with include Mid Wales Opera, Pavilion Opera, Surrey Opera, Lyon Opera and London Opera Players. As a singing teacher his appointments have included Mountview Theatre School, East 15 Acting School and Dauntsey s School.

Paul began composing in his teens, one of his earliest works, Love came down at Christmas being written in 1978. His output includes three Cello Sonatas all written for his wife Ruth, and all premiered by her. As well as writing in the more traditional forms, Paul also writes in a theatre style and this includes the Christmas Musical, Bethlehem Junction.

Thus far in his career, Paul s writing has taken place somewhat intermittently, due to the practical requirements of his work as both singer and singing teacher. Now however he wishes to write more regularly and place more emphasis on his work as a composer. The traditional foundations of music - melody, harmony, rhythm and form are important to Paul who believes that without such foundations music, like anything else, is either anarchic or merely an intellectual exercise. It is also important to Paul that composers find their individual voice. Music has the capacity to reach people in a special way and it is a privilege as a composer to be part of that. Recent works include the String Quartet No.1 and a song cycle for soprano and piano entitled ´Maiestas et Mysterium´ . His Prelude for Orchestra was shortlisted for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra´ s Composers´ Day 2017 with Mark-Anthony Turnage who highly commended the work. At present, Paul is writing a work for the Bridgnorth Sinfonia which is due to receive its first performance next June.


TESTIMONIALS: was very compelling, often beautiful music ..This was a marvellous evening..

(Angela Goodall, Words and Music )

"When I first read through Paul s Sonata, I felt I related to the music straight away"

Anna Roberts, (1954 - 2011 ), Pianist

It is a great privilege to be the dedicatee of Paul s Cello Sonatas nos. 1 and 2. Though very different, they both demonstrate his highly individual voice. The music covers a range of expression from great drama to intense emotion via fun and ebullience, and amply repay the effort of overcoming the considerable technical challenges. These however always arise from the needs of the music and not from any attempt at cleverness. I have given several performances of these works, and audiences and performers alike have derived great pleasure from them.

(Ruth Henley, Cellist)

..there is a considerable talent evident in his works.

(Andrew Downes, Composer)

I am fortunate to have been involved in three professional performances of Bethlehem Junction ..The piece was enthusiastically received by audiences and his style is attractive, approachable, engaging and original.

(Anne Tupling, Violinist)

It is a sensitive, spiritual piece for soprano, flute and string quintet. The strings provided an ethereal frame for solo passages of flute and soprano in answering phrases. After a hypnotic sequence of soft, repeated chords, the soprano soared above the strings reaching an electrifying climax at the word Alleluia .

(Moira Dixon, Salisbury Journal - In the Beginning )

Paul Henley s music has the rare and prized quality of achieving powerful effects and telling contrasts with minimal fuss and maximum communicative directness. Generous melodies and tangy harmonies combine with a striking rhythmic ingenuity to create works loaded with infectious energy and suffused with vibrant emotional warmth. He is a composer whose work is to be wholeheartedly enjoyed by the listener, but also has the craftsmanship to amply satisfy and stimulate the performer.

(Duncan Honeybourne, Pianist and Lecturer)

It appealed immediately to the audience with a lively central movement flanked by a slower introduction and finale. Transparent textures, long melodic lines and sustained mood expressed within an individual tonal language all made for a memorable first hearing.

(Peter Bullett, Pianist - Sonata No.1 for Cello & Piano)

As a composer, I was greatly impressed by the recent performance of his Christmas Musical Bethlehem Junction which he also produced and directed with great skill. The music, in modern traditional style, has catchy tunes and well-contrasted numbers which range from lyrical to up-beat. The show consists of a number of scenes (including a splendid coup-de-theatre!) welded together by well-conceived musical ideas. Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

(Richard Silk MA, Mus.B (Cantab.), FRCO, former Director of Studies, Birmingham Conservatoire)


CCA Composer of the Month: NOV 2015-March 2016

Paul Henley is our most recent CCA colleague to feature in our series of Central Composers' Alliance's COMPOSER OF THE MONTH. He has only just joined the Alliance so we are pleased that he has been...

CD - Music for Cello and Piano

CD - 'Bethlehem Junction'