Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade is a composer and cellist based in Edinburgh. Composing for old, new, and damaged musical instruments, her past projects have included works for symphony orchestra, viols and theorbo, percussion quartets, a homemade glass harmonica, flower pots, and a fire-damaged piano. Recent works include commissions from the Wigmore Hall, Dunedin Consort, the Chelsea Music Festival in New York, and Edinburgh Youth Orchestra. Her orchestral compositions have been played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She is currently the Presteigne Festival’s ‘Evolve’ composer for 2020–25 and a composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne.
In 2019–20 Ninfea received the Psappha Ensemble’s Peter Maxwell Davies Commission for which she composed a piece for sitar and chamber ensemble. This project was supported by the PRS Foundation’s Composers’ Fund, enabling her to purchase a sitar and take lessons with sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun. The commissioned work, Patdeep Studies, was her first attempt at exploring a raag in the Hindustani classical tradition and was shared online by Psappha in 2022.
Ninfea has been a recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and of a composition fellowship from the Tanglewood Music Center. In 2018 she was commissioned to write Table Talk, a large ensemble brass work for the Tanglewood Music Festival, and her percussion quartet Hatters was programmed at the festival the following year performed by Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionists. 2019–20 saw the continued circulation of her work in the United States with performances of The Opium-Eaters by the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles, and Devil’s Minion by the Metropolis Ensemble in New York. Previous collaborations have included works for Sō Percussion and the JACK Quartet.
Trained in cello performance and the academic study of music, Ninfea holds degrees from the University of Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music in London. She has recently completed a PhD in music composition at Princeton University. Five Letters from Aubrey Beardsley, her song cycle for countertenor and prepared piano based on letters by the art nouveau illustrator, was filmed in Princeton and shared online in 2020.