Craig Armstrong is a Scottish born composer and pianist. Through his orchestral writing, electronic music and wide ranging artistic collaborations in classical and film music, Craig Armstrong’s distinct compositional voice has received world wide acclaim. The composer studied at the Royal Academy Of Music under such greats as Cornelius Cardew, Paul Patterson and Malcolm MacDonald. Developing an approach that evokes the most delicate shifts in atmosphere and emotion.
Armstrong has built an impressive repertoire of both classical and alternative popular music. Citing influences from classical, jazz and experimental music. His signing to the newly formed imprint Modern Recordings (BMG Germany) began in 2020 with The Edge Of The Sea. An album which is a culmination of his interests in Gaelic psalm singing from the west coast of Scotland. Developed over several years and in close collaboration with the Hebridean composer Calum Martin. The album is a unique recording of this traditionally acapella Gaelic psalm singing featuring the innovative Scottish Ensemble. His latest recording Nocturnes Music For 2 Pianos, is a subtle and abstract blend of two piano performances. Playing on the immense sonic possibilities of the piano range. It was composed during 2020 through to 2021 and each piece stands on it’s own but equally works as compositional whole.
Earlier recording work of Armstrong’s began with the long standing and inventive collaboration with Massive Attack on their seminal albums. Armstrong’s first solo albums were released on Massive Attack’s label Melankolic (Virgin Records), The Space Between Us and As If To Nothing. The stunning and pared back Piano Works and Piano Works:The Film followed with a release on Sanctuary in 2004. Memory Takes My Hand was released on EMI Classics in 2008 featuring the violinist Clio Gould and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It’s Nearly Tomorrow, a solo album with BMG Chrysalis was released in 2014 and featured collaborations with Paul Buchanan and Vladislav Delay. The Lost Song’s Of St Kilda released by Decca in 2016 to worldwide acclaim was a special project featuring two of Craig’s original compositions, Stac Lee Dawn and Dusk, inspired by the original piano works of St Kilda on the recovered recordings.
Armstrong’s most recent solo album Sun On You was released with Decca Records in 2018, an album for strings and piano featuring the Scottish Ensemble.
Having composed many concert works including those for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Hebrides Ensemble, Cappella Nova and the Scottish Ensemble. Visconti was a commission from the London Sinfonietta and the Barbican, premiered at the Stockhausen Festival in 2002 and is an homage to both the film director Luchino Visconti and the composer Gustav Mahler. The violin concerto Immer, for the violinist, Clio Gould was recorded by Virgin Classics which was premiered at the Saint Denis Festival in Paris in 2008. Armstrong’s second Scottish Opera commission, The Lady From The Sea, premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2012 winning the Herald Angel Award. For a recent commission for Union Chapel’s Organ Reframed festival, Armstrong composed the beautiful Painted In White for Organ and Strings performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra.
Armstrong has a world-renowned reputation for composing award winning film music. Having composed scores for both Hollywood and independent films from Peter Mullan’s directorial debut The Close Trilogy to the BAFTA, Ivor Novello and Golden Globe winning award scores for Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge!. Many more films have benefited from Armstrong’s music including The Quiet American, Orphans, Love Actually, World Trade Centre, Elizabeth:The Golden Age and Far From The Madding Crowd. Armstrong’s film score for Ray! directed by Taylor Hackford was awarded a Grammy for original score. The long standing artistic relationship Armstrong has with both Mullan and Lurhmann has continued to present day with work for Peter Mullan on his award winning film Neds and the Grammy score nominated The Great Gatsby for Baz Lurhmann.
Oliver Stone is another long term collaborator for Armstrong from the aforementioned World Trade Centre to most recently working on Stone’s bio-pic, Snowden.
In 2018 he completed work on the critically acclaimed Mrs Lowry and Son, directed by Adrian Noble. Armstrong has worked with the director Giuseppe Capotondi for The Burnt Orange Heresy, which was released in 2020 and in 2019 Armstrong was reunited in collaboration with director Thea Sharrock (dir. Me Before You) for her new feature for Disney, The One And Only Ivan which was released in Autumn 2020. His latest film is The Most Reluctant Convert a film based on C.S Lewis and directed by Norman Stone.
Working primarily from his studio in Glasgow, Armstrong continues to work internationally in composition. Craig is currently working on a song cycle and a new cello concerto.
In 2010 he accepted an OBE at the Palace of Holyrood House for his contribution to music and in 2016 he received the Henry Mancini Award from the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).