Emily Howard

Professor of Composition and Director of PRiSM

MA (Oxon), MMus (RNCM), PhD (Manc.)

Email: emily.howard@rncm.ac.uk

  • Director of PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music


  • Principal Study Tutor for School of Composition



Professor Emily Howard holds a Personal Chair in Composition at the RNCM and is Director of PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music.

Emily Howard’s music is known for its particular connection with science. Her 2016 BBC Proms Commission Torus (Concerto for Orchestra), described by The Times as “visionary” and by The Guardian as “one of this year’s finest new works”, won the orchestral category of the 2017 British Composer Awards. BBC Radio 3’s Record Review described her NMC Debut Disc Magnetite (Autumn 2016) as “a confident, major orchestral debut”, hailing its “scientific ideas brilliantly articulated”. Howard is a featured composer at the Aldeburgh Festival 2018 with the world premiere of her new opera To See The Invisible.

Works include Magnetite (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra / Vasily Petrenko, Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008); Solar (London Symphony Orchestra / Nicholas Collon, LSO/UBS Soundscapes 2010); Calculus of the Nervous System (Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra / Sir James MacMillan, Wien Modern 2011 and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons, BBC Proms 2012); Mesmerism (2011), commissioned for pianist Alexandra Dariescu, which won a 2012 British Composer Award; Axon (BBC Philharmonic / Juanjo Mena; 2013); Afference (Elias String Quartet, 2015); sphere (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra / Alondra de la Parra; 2017); The Music of Proof (Piatti Quartet, mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, New Scientist Live 2017) and mini-operas Ada sketches (Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, 2012) and Zátopek! (New Music 20×12, London Cultural Olympiad).

A graduate in mathematics and computer science from Oxford University, Emily Howard studied composition at the RNCM (MMus) and the University of Manchester (PhD). In 2008 she was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers and in 2010 became the inaugural UBS Composer in Residence in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Bridge Academy, Hackney, a post she then mentored. She was Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in 2015, and is currently a Visiting Researcher at the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering, University of Liverpool. Her music is available on several labels including Col Legno, Toccata Classics and NMC Recordings.



Personal Website

Current and Future Research

Professor Emily Howard’s research is focused on the composition of large-scale orchestral works, opera, choral and chamber music, often with significant links to the worlds of science, mathematics and poetry. She frequently collaborates with people who have wide-ranging interests and experiences including regular discussions with mathematicians, poets, scientists and writers; her music reflects and responds to these stimuli by embracing a diverse range of extra-musical influences, often simultaneously. It is the resulting collision and union of disparate ideas from diverse sources that excites her, and the subsequent translation of these hybrid ideas into sound is essentially the crux of her creative process.

Current and recent projects include:

  • New large-scale orchestral work (2019)
  • Chamber opera To See The Invisible, an adaption of a short sci-fi story by Robert Silverberg, in collaboration with writer Selma Dimitrijevic and director Dan Ayling, which received its world premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival 2018


  • The Music of Proof,a collaboration between composer Emily Howard and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, with the Piatti String Quartet at New Scientist Live 2017


  • Invitation to deliver the Keynote TORCH lecture ‘Chaos or Chess: The Extra-Musical as Creative Cataylst’ at the Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School 2017, University of Oxford
  • Orchestral work sphere commissioned by Stiftung Bamberger Symphoniker for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alondra de la Parra, Bamberg, Germany in March 2017
  • Research presentations at New York University NYC, Stony Brook University NY State, Middlebury College Vermont, Boston University and Boston Conservatory in February 2017
  • An invitation from the British Council to be part of a British Musical Showcase at Casa de Música, Porto, Portugal in January 2017


Compositions: for a complete work list and further information such as scoring, score samples, programme notes, performances, reviews etc. please visit:


Recordings: please visit http://www.emilyhoward.com/media.php


BBC Radio 3 Record Review Podcast Summer 2016: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p045tv91

NMC Debut Disc CD Notes by Helen Wallace: http://i-classical.com/pdf.php?id=000094971.pdf

College and External Research Roles

  • Director of PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music, 2017 –


  • Visiting Researcher, Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, 2016 –


  • Visiting Senior Fellow, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Liverpool, 2015 –
  • Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Liverpool, 2015


  • UBS Composer-in-Residence in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra, The Bridge Academy, Hackney, London, UK (subsequently as mentor), 2010-13

Research Funding

  • PRS Foundation Composers’ Fund Grant (2017) for chamber opera ‘To See The Invisible’
  • Arts Council England Grant (2016) for the development of a chamber opera
  • The Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence Scheme 2015
  • Paul Hamlyn Award for Composers 2008
  • Regular commissions from festivals and organisations including BBC Proms, Liverpool European Capital of Culture, Wien Modern, Bamberger Symphoniker, The Black Dyke Band, Opera North, the London Symphony Orchestra, New Music 20×12 (London Cultural Olympiad)
  • Regular support from funding bodies including Arts Council England, The Ambache Charitable Trust, The Austrian Cultural Forum, BBC, British Council, The Jerwood Charitable Foundation, PRS for Music Foundation, The Leverhulme Trust, The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust and The RVW Trust
  • Development support from Aldeburgh Music, the eu-art-network, The Opera Group, Mahogany Opera, the LSO Panufnik Scheme and the Royal Northern College of Music
  • Support for collaborations with mathematicians and scientists from AHRC Research Project “Transforming Musicology” and EPSRC Research Project “FAST”

Undergraduate Teaching

Principal study composition

Composition techniques

Postgraduate Teaching

Principal study composition

Research Supervision

Current supervisions:

Bofan Ma

Mark Dyer

Zakiya Leeming


Professional Activity


Professor Emily Howard frequently collaborates with scientists and mathematicians. She developed and led Ada sketches audience-interactive events with mathematician Lasse Rempe-Gillen at the Science Museum (Critics’ Choice, Time Out, London), the Oxford Mathematical Institute (Ada Lovelace Symposium 2015) and with the Oxford e-Research Centre at the Science in the City Festival, Manchester European City of Science 2016.


A Visiting Researcher at the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre, Emily is collaborating in the Centre’s Transforming Musicology and FAST (Fusing Audio and Semantic Technologies) projects, and developing the Numbers into Notes project which has grown out of her operatic work Ada sketches, part of the Ada Lovelace Trilogy. https://www.oerc.ox.ac.uk/people/emilyh

Watch Emily speaking about Ada sketches with Professor David De Roare (Oxford e-Research Centre) at the University of Oxford’s Ada Lovelace Symposium 2015: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/turning-numbers-notes


Emily is also a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering, University of Liverpool. Following her Leverhulme Trust Residency in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Liverpool in 2015, she is developing a new research collaboration ‘Music & Mathematics Interrogate Brain Tumour Dissemination’ with Dr Rachel Bearon (Mathematical Biology) and Dr Violaine See (Institute of Integrative Biology) as well as continuing the Orbits collaboration with Professor Lasse Rempe-Gillen (Dynamical Systems).




Public Speaking / Lectures / Talks

Professor Emily Howard is in demand as a public speaker and regularly receives invitations to give radio broadcasts [‘Der Magnetfelder der Frau Doktor Howard’, Composer Portrait ORF (Austria); Proms Extra Composer Portrait, BBC Radio 3], podcasts [‘Composer Conversations’ (Berlin); ‘Turning Numbers into Notes’ (Oxford)], talks [‘The Lovelace Trilogy’, The BBC Digital Story Telling Team; ‘Orbits: Mathematics meet Music’, Liverpool Mathematical Society Popular Lecture; ‘Leviathan under the Microscope’, North West Poetics Network] and lectures [‘Calculus of the Nervous System: towards Consilience as Compositional Approach’ École normale supérieure, Paris; ‘Torus, Afference & Leviathan: recent works’, University of Cambridge].

Emily was invited Keynote Speaker for the annual TORCH lecture at the Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School 2017 and the Theory & Analysis Graduate Students’ Conference 2016, Society of Music Analysis, and Chair for the Keynote Presentation at the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership Postgraduate Conference 2016. In 2015, she was a Visiting Composer at the Sound and Music Summer School.  From 2010-13, she was UBS Composer-in-Residence (subsequently Composer Mentor) in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra at The Bridge Academy, Hackney.