Ned McGowan is a flutist, composer, teacher, improviser, researcher and contrabass flute soloist. Known for rhythmical vitality and technical virtuosity, his music has regularly won awards and been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw and other halls and festivals around the world by many orchestras, ensembles and soloists.
His specialty is the contrabass flute, which he often performs solo and teaches privately and in workshops. In 2008 he composed and performed solo on the first concerto for contrabass flute and orchestra. Premiered at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra, he “proved there’s still plenty of life in old-fashioned virtuosity with Bantammer Swing, a playful, athletic concerto for his unwieldy contrabass flute," according to Steve Smith of the New York Times. In 2016, he released his album The Art of the Contrabass Flute, an album dedicated solely to this amazing instrument.“A phenomenal technique and flawless feeling for rhythm and sound, he knows how to use it perfectly in his compositions.”, saidLuister Magazine,"Fantastic album! Beautiful artistic playing with rich low flute tones. A most unique and worthy album for sure.”, said Peter Sheridan. Fluit Magazine called him “A master on the contrabass flute". Ned is a founding member of the contrabass flute collective, ¡HØÑK!
When playing the flute, Ned focuses mainly on creative projects and he has collaborated with Aka Moon, Derek Bermel, Theodossii Spassov, George Brooks, Oguz Buyukberber, Larry Coryell, Oene van Geel, Stephen Gosling, Rozalie Hirs, Guus Janssen, David Kweksilber, Dr. Gregory Oakes, Erkan Ogur, Keiko Shichijo, Fahrettin YarkÃ„Â±n, and Zapp 4in addition to many renowned Indian artists. He has also performed with the Asko Schönberg, musikFabrik, Slagwerk Den Haag, Beethoven Academie, Canberra International Music Festival Orchestra, the Erie Philharmonic, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Non Sequitur, Axyz Ensemble, Spinifex Orchestra, and his own quintet Hexnut.
He has composed often for flute and also for recorder in solo and chamber ensembles, and in 2016 composed the competition piece for the National Flute Convention High School Soloist Competition of which Scott MacClelland (Performing Arts Monterey Bay) wrote: “Once again, the range of flute writing seemed to be limitless in its imagination and technical requirements… and through it all, McGowan’s mastery of form made a crystal-clear coherency to the whole of this miniature world.” The festivals Canberra International Music Festival, World Minimal Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Grachten, Klankkleur Festivals, MATA, Nederlandse Muziek Dagen, Voorwaarts Maart have commissioned new works from McGowan and his music has been performed at Aspen, Gaudeamus, Dag in de Branding, North Sea Jazz, November Music, SinusTon, Huddersfield, Klap op de Vuurpijl festivals. In 2016 he was commissioned to write for the Grammy-winning Eight Blackbird and this work, Garden of Iniquitous Creatures, has been performed all over the world.
Orchestras who have performed his works include American Composers Orchestra, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra (USA), Orquestra do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro (Brazil) and the Dutch orchestras Radio Kamer Filharmonie, Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Gelders Orkest, Rotterdam Sinfonia and Ricciotti. Reed quintets include Calefax, Splinter Reeds and Akropolis, and ensembles include Eighth Blackbird, Aleph, Array Music, Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, Duo Blow, Calefax, David Kweksilber Big Band, Flexible Music, Great Noise, Hexnut, Insomnio, Klang, MMM…, musikFabrik, Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, Nederlands Fluit Orkest, BlowUp Flute Octet, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Post & Mulder Piano Duo, Rubiks, Sax & Stix, Spinifex, Ensemble Scala, Trio Scordatura, Ensemble Verge, Wervelwind, Zapp4 String Quartet, Zephyr String Quartet and soloists including Susanna Borsch, Helen Bledsoe, Keiko Shichijo, Guy Livingston, Tatiana Koleva/Rutger Oterloo, Kimberly Sparr, Greg Oakes, Reiko Manabe, Mysore Manjunath, Derek Bermel, Sarah Jeffrey, Egbert Jan Louwerse and Eric Vloeimans.
One strong facet of Ned’s influence is the Carnatic music from South India. Over the past decade, he has collaborated and performed regularly in India and Europe with Indian musicians Dr. Mysore Manjunath, Mysore Nagaraj, Dr. Suma Sudhindra, Pravin Godkhindi, Jahnavi Jayaprakash, Ronu Majumdar, B.C. Manjunath, M.K. Pranesh, Anoor Anathakrishna Sharma and Ghiridar Udupa. “What fascinates me is the Carnatic use of rhythmical complexities developed through a tradition of performance.” Works exploring Indian forms from a European perspective include Chamundi Hill, for flute and harp, Alapfor voice and ensemble, Stone Soup for jazz ensemble, Tusk for ensemble and Three Amsterdam Scenes for voice, viola and keyboards.
Ned is a professor at the Utrecht Conservatory in composition, ensembles and the intense rhythmic training program he has developed, Advanced Rhythm and Pulse. He regularly lectures and teaches around the world on subjects such as his music, rhythm, creativity and low flutes. He holds degrees in composition from the Royal Conservatory The Hague and in flute from the Cleveland Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2014, he was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music for his work as both a composer and performer. Ned currently pursuing an artistic research PhD about speed in music at the Leiden University via the DocARTES program, supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Since 2017 he has lectured regularly in Europe on musical and timing conferences with his interactive presentation "Speed in Mind, Body and Brain.