Tansy Davies rose to prominence on the British scene with a sequence of ensemble works for the Composers Ensemble (Patterning), the London Sinfonietta (Torsion) and The Brunel Ensemble (The Void in this Colour), all of which bear the hallmarks of her apprenticeship under Simon Bainbridge and Simon Holt. In one strand of her work, Davies has found an accommodation between the worlds of the avant-garde and experimental rock, between - in the words of one critic - Xenakis and Prince. Filled with sounds of cracking, slapping, whipping and scraping, it is music that is utterly contemporary, inhabiting the same urban landscape as industrial techno and electronica. And while Davies is similarly fascinated by the potential of 'looping' as a structural device (as in neon), there is none of the formal predictability of much commercial dance music. Rather, the skewed proportions of works such as her LSO commission Tilting attest to her keen interest in applying structural principles found in the natural world, or the work of architect Zaha Hadid.
In 2009 she received a Paul Hamlyn Award. In 2010 the critically acclaimed As with Voices and with Tears, a requiem for choir, string orchestra and electronics, was performed to commemorate Remembrance Sunday in Portsmouth Cathedral, with the London Mozart Players. This work was nominated for the South Bank Show / Sky Arts Award 2011. Also in 2011, Davies' much-admired album Troubairitz was released on the Nonclassical label and she collaborated with Norwegian choreographer Ingun Bjørnsgaard on Omega and the Deer, a dance project which toured to Oslo, Berlin, Potsdam, Hamburg and New York. Later that year her carol, Christmas Eve, was performed at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in King's College Cambridge and broadcast around the world.
2012 saw the premiere of two new works – a piano concerto, Nature, for Huw Watkins and the BCMG, conducted by Oliver Knussen (a co-commission with the Oslo Sinfonietta), and a wind nonet for the City of London Festival – as well as the release of her second commercial CD,spine, on the NMC label. The disc, which features many of her ensemble and chamber works, has been widely praised for its 'emotional depth & unrestrained exuberance', as well as its 'sensibility' and 'inventiveness.'
In 2013 The Beginning of the World was premiered by the English Chamber Orchestra at the Proms, and Song of Pure Nothingness, for Elisabeth Holmertz and Kenneth Karlsson was premiered at the Ultima Festival in Oslo.
Davies is currently working on an opera, inspired by the events of 9/11, to be premiered by English National Opera in the 2014/15 season.