Short biography


Agustín Fernández was born in Bolivia in 1958 and has been based in the United Kingdom since 1984.

Following an early start as a folk musician (1969-72), he studied composition in La Paz with Alberto Villalpando while working as a violinist at the National Symphony Orchestra. He then spent three years in Japan, studying composition first with Takashi Iida and then with Akira Ifukube, training also as a violinist with Takeshi Kobayashi, while supporting himself with jobs at the Bolivian Embassy and as a language instructor. In Britain he studied at Liverpool University and at London’s City University. After a four-year spell as Composer-in-Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast, he taught at Dartington College of Arts, before being appointed lecturer in composition at Newcastle University in 1996 and, since 2007, Professor of Composition. He was head of music at Newcastle 2011-2014, thereafter remaining with the institution until his resignation in 2019.  

He retains an active presence in Bolivia in the form of masterclasses and creative projects, such as the series of folk arrangements for the foundation Bolivia Clásica which, after its première in La Paz under Jaime Laredo, have become a part of the orchestral repertoire. 

He has also strong links with Romania, having recently been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Gheorghe Dima Academy of Music at Cluj.

His commissions in Britain have included projects with London International Opera Festival, Royal Opera House’s Garden Venture, Park Lane Group, Royal Northern Sinfonia and others. International commissions have included, among others, two from New Juilliard Ensemble and a Koussevitzky Commission for String Quartet No. 2 ‘Sin tiempo’, which was premièred and continues to be performed by the Momenta Quartet in the USA. His work is published by Filarmonika (Fort Worth, Texas), Tritó (Barcelona) and Tre Media (Karlsruhe).

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