Ivan Moody, British composer, was born in London in 1964, and studied composition with Brian Dennis at London University, William Brooks at York University and privately with John Tavener. He also studied Orthodox theology at the University of Joensuu, Finland. Moody is active as a conductor, having directed ensembles such as Voces Angelicae, the Kastalsky Chamber Choir (Britain), Capilla Peña Florida (Spain), Cappella Romana (USA), the Choir of the Cathedral of St George, Novi Sad, (Serbia) the KotorArt Festival Choir (Montenegro), the Orthodox Choir of the University of Joensuu (Finland) and Ensemble Alpha (Portugal); and as a widely published musicologist. His research interests include the music of Eastern Europe, especially 20th century and contemporary music from Russia and the Balkans, the music of the Orthodox Church in the modern era, music and spirituality, music as theology, Serbian church music, the aesthetics of modernism and post-modernism and their intersection with Orthodox church music and the musical culture of the Mediterranean.
Moody's compositions show the influences of Eastern liturgical chant and the Orthodox Church, of which he is a member and archpriest (of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople). His Canticum Canticorum I, written for the Hilliard Ensemble and premiered in 1987, achieved enormous success and remains his most frequently-performed work, and in 1990 he won the Arts for the Earth Festival Prize for Prayer for the Forests, subsequently premièred by the renowned Tapiola Choir of Finland. One of his most important works is the oratorio Passion and Resurrection (1992), based on Orthodox liturgical texts, premièred in 1993 by Red Byrd and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Tõnu Kaljuste at the Tampere Festival. In 1996 it was given its North American premiere by Cappella Romana. The Akáthistos Hymn (1998), the composer’s largest work to date, and the first complete musical setting of this text, was written for Cappella Romana following these performances.
Other significant works include the ‘cello concerto Epitaphios (1993), the cantata Revelation (1995), Endechas y Canciones (1996), the recorder concerto Pnevma (1998), Lamentations of the Myrrhbearer (2001) for string quartet, Lumière sans déclin (2000) for string orchestra, and the choral triptych written for Trio Mediaeval - Words of the Angel (1998), Troparion of Kassiani (1999), A Lion’s Sleep (2002), and Chalice of Wisdom, Matins of the Feast of St Thomas, written in 2002 for the ensemble amarcord.
Later compositions include a large-scale BBC commission, The Dormition of the Virgin (2003), concertos for double-bass (The Morning Star, 2003), piano (Linnunlaulu, 2003) and bassoon (Arise, 2004), Passione Popolare, built on popular religious texts from Magna Graecia and premièred at the Antidogma Festival in Italy in June 2005, and Ossetian Requiem, written for the Amsterdam-based ‘Cello Octet Conjunto Ibérico. In 2008, he completed a new work for the King's Singers, "Canti della Rosa" and a large-scale setting of the Stabat Mater, incorporating texts from the Byzantine liturgy and by Anna Akhmatova, for the Oslo International Festival of Church Music. His 2009 Hymn to St Nicholas for eight voices was commissioned for the KotorArt Festival in Montenegro, where it was premiered under the composer's direction, and received its American premiere in November of that year.
Works completed in 2010 include Canticum Canticorum IV, a commission from Seattle Pro Musica, Angelus Domini descendit, a commission from the Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London and Sub tuum praesidium, a commission from the English Chamber Choir. 2011 saw the completion of a sequence of music for Byzantine-rite vespers for the Children's Choir of St Vladmir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York and Ode 8 of the Paschal Canon, part of a multi-composer work commissioned by Cappella Romana. Recently completed works include "Simeron", for the Goeyvaerts Trio, "Keskiyö" for two harpsichords, "Shoreline" for two pianos, "Dragonfly", a bass clarinet concerto for Luís Gomes and the Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa, "Fioriture" for American pianist Paul Barnes, "Qohelet" for the Italian ensemble De Labyrinto and the "Dante Trilogy". Current projects include works for the BBC Singers, Cappella Nova, Suzie Leblanc and Artur Pizarro.
In October 2014 he was in residence at Biola University in Southern California, where he gave a series of masterclasses and lectures. The concluding monographic concert ended with the world premiere of "Cielo della Luna", the third part of the "Dante Trilogy", commissioned by the Biola Conservatory of Music. The first part of the Trilogy, "O Luce Etterna", was a commission from the Alcobaça Festival for the Capela Musical Cupertino de Miranda, and the second, "Oltre la Spera", was written for the Grupo de Música Contemporânea de Lisboa and the Grupo Musical Olisipo and first performed, as was the bass clarinet concerto "Dragonfly", at the composer's 50th Birthday concert at the Palácio Foz in Lisbon on 27 June 2014.
As of 1990, he has lived near Lisbon, Portugal, where he was until 1998 Professor of Composition at the Academia de Artes e Tecnologias, Lisbon. He has been involved in the construction of a database for the Portuguese Contemporary Music Centre (), was a Research Fellow of the CESEM research unit at the Universidade Nova in Lisbon 2010–2012, and is currently Professor of Church Music of the Department of Orthodox Theology at the University of Eastern Finland (). In 2005 he was elected the first Chairman of the International Society for Orthodox Church Music (ISOCM).
Ivan Moody’s music is recorded on the Hyperion, ECM, Sony, Telarc, Gothic, Oehms and Cappella Romana labels.