Alan Charlton first studied composition at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music, and went on to study with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir, Robert Saxton, Raymond Warren and Adrian Beaumont. After completing a BA in Music (First Class Hons) in 1992 at the University of Bristol, he was the first ever recipient of a PhD in Musical Composition at the university in 1997 where he also taught composition from 1993-95. From 1999-2002 he was the first Eileen Norris Fellow in Composition, Bedford School.
His music has been programmed throughout the world, being heard as far afield as Germany, Finland, USA and Tanzania, as well as in leading UK concert halls including the Barbican, the Purcell Room, St Martin-in-the-Fields and St George's Bristol. His music has been performed by The Lindsays, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Onyx Brass, Bernard Gregor-Smith, the Pro Arte Guitar Trio and Nicholas Cleobury and has been broadcast on BBC R3.
Competition successes include a first prize in the 1995 National Power Composers Award (Quintetto) and in the 1998 Premiere competition for choral composition, sponsored by the National Lottery (Earth, Sweet Earth), a second prize in the 2001 European Composition Competition for Cathedral Choirs (A Solis Ortus Cardine), the 2007 and 2003 John Armitage Memorial Prizes (Bring us Good Ale and Jubilate Deo) and an honorary mention in the 2003 International Horn Society Composition Competition (Étude). Four of his works have been selected for the SPNM shortlist and he has also been selected for the Hoy/SCO International Composers Course and the Manchester Composers' Platform (String Quartet no.1), while his Look and Bow Down was chosen as one of the 'Premieres of the Year' in Classical Music Magazine.