Giles Swayne was born in Hertfordshire in June 1946. After an early childhood in Singapore and Australia, he grew up in Liverpool and Yorkshire. He began composing at the age of ten, and in his teens was encouraged by his cousin, the composer Elizabeth Maconchy. He studied the piano with Gordon Green, Phyllis Hepburn, James Gibb and Vlado Perlemuter. On leaving Cambridge in 1968 he won a composition scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he studied with Harrison Birtwistle, Alan Bush and Nicholas Maw. In 1976-77 he visited the Paris Conservatoire to study with Olivier Messiaen. In 1980 his huge piece CRY for twenty-eight amplified voices (which is dedicated to Messiaen) was premièred by the BBC Singers under John Poole. Widely hailed as an important landmark, it has been performed four times in Britain (twice at the London Proms, in 1983 and 1994), and many times in Europe and America. In 1981 Swayne made a field trip to Senegal to record the music of the Jola community of Casamance (southern Senegal); these recordings are now in the British Library’s Sound Archive and available online. His interest in Africa and African music has influenced his work both directly and indirectly. Between 1990 and 1996 he lived in the eastern region of Ghana, where he built a beautiful house in the Akuapem Hills. He now lives in London with his wife, violinist Malu Lin, teaches composition at Cambridge University, and is Composer-in-residence at Clare College, Cambridge.