Professor of Composition and Director of PRiSM
MA (Oxon), MMus (RNCM), PhD (Manc.)
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.
Howard’s music is commissioned, performed and broadcast all over the world. Her work is known for its inventive connections with mathematical shapes and processes: Antisphere – the latest addition to Howard’s ongoing series of orchestral geometries – was commissioned by the Barbican for Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), and opened the 2019-20 season. Her music is the focus of a NMC composer portrait disc, Magnetite. BBC Radio 3’s Record Review noted that the scientific ideas were ‘brilliantly articulated’ throughout the collection.
Described as ‘one of our most original musical voices’ by the Manchester International Festival (MIF), Howard made her MIF debut in 2019 with The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo, a major new work for orchestra, massed chorus and soloists to mark the 200th anniversary of Peterloo, with a text by Michael Symmons Roberts. The Times praised Howard’s ‘ferocious skills’ and ‘instrumental panache’.
In 2018, Howard was a featured composer at the Aldeburgh Festival, premiering her opera To See The Invisible, an Aldeburgh Festival commission with a text by Selma Dimitrijevic after a short sci-fi story by Robert Silverberg. Four Musical Proofs and a Conjecture, a collaboration with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy and the Piatti String Quartet premiered at the 2017 New Scientist Live Festival. Howard and Du Sautoy subsequently established PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music.
Howard’s catalogue also includes Solar (premiered by the LSO/Nicholas Collon, 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); Torus (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Vasily Petrenko; BBC Proms 2016, winner of a 2017 British Composer Award); sphere (Bamberg Symphony Orchestra/Alondra de la Parra; 2017); the Ada sketches (Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, 2012), Zátopek! (New Music 20×12, London Cultural Olympiad), among others.
A graduate in mathematics and computer science from Oxford University, Howard studied composition at the RNCM (MMus) and the University of Manchester (PhD). She was appointed UBS Composer in Residence in conjunction with the LSO at the Bridge Academy, Hackney in 2010; Leverhulme Trust Artist in Residence at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in 2015; and TORCH Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford in 2019.
Howard was elected Honorary Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford in 2019.
Current and Future Research
An artistic statement about Emily’s work:
A complete List of Works, with links to scores and recordings:
Emily Howard’s music is published by Edition Peters:
PRiSM, the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music
College and External Research Roles
- Member of the AHRC Peer-Review College, 2020 –
- TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) Visiting Research Fellow, 2019
- 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 England Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund for PRiSM (2019-22)
- Two linked AHRC CDAs with poet Michael Symmons Roberts (Man Met) for Joint Opera Creation with BBC Philharmonic (2019-22)
- AHRC CDA for AI-assisted composition with BBC Philharmonic (2018-21)
- 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
Principal study composition
Principal study composition
Niall Campbell (at Manchester Metropolitan)
Previous supervision, completed:
Dr Aled Smith
Barbican Life Rewired 2019
Featuring Barbican commissions Antisphere (London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Simon Rattle, 2019), But then, what are these numbers? (Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Britten Sinfonia/William Cole, 2019) alongside performances of Ite Fortes and Threnos (BBC Singers) and Torus (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins).
Antisphere: first performance given by Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra
Ada Lovelace: Imagining the Analytical Engine curated by Emily Howard
Manchester International Festival 2019
The Anvil: An Elegy for Peterloo, for orchestra, chorus and soloists with a text by Michael Symmons Roberts, was performed by Kate Royal, Christopher Purves, three Hallé Choirs, the BBC Singers and BBC Philharmonic under Ben Gernon at the Manchester International Festival.
Aldeburgh Festival 2018
Composer in Residence with performances of Afference (Piatti String Quartet), Magnetite and the UK premiere of sphere (BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Mark Wigglesworth) alongside the world premiere of chamber opera To See The Invisible, an Aldeburgh Festival Commission with a text by Selma Dimitrijevic after a short sci-fi story by Robert Silverberg.
New Scientist Live 2017
World premiere of The Music of Proof, a PRiSM collaboration with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy with a performance of Four Musical Proofs and a Conjecture given by the Piatti String Quartet.
BBC Proms 2016
World premiere of Torus (2016) given by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic with Vasily Petrenko – co-commissioned by the BBC Proms and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society to celebrate its 175th Anniversary – alongside BBC Proms Extra event featuring performances of chamber works Orbits, Afference and Chaos or Chess given by RNCM students.
TORCH Visiting Fellow 2019, University of Oxford
A residency at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), involving panel discussions, masterclasses and a performance given by Britten Sinfonia.
Calculus of the Nervous System: TORCH presents music and discussion after Ada Lovelace, with composers Emily Howard and Robert Laidlow, David De Roure (Professor of E-Research, University of Oxford) and Ursula Martin (Visiting Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford).
AI & Creativity – watch this panel discussion between mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, composer Emily Howard and Sarah Ellis, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Director of Digital Development, chaired by Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, Oxford University
Leverhulme Artist in Residence 2015, University of Liverpool
A residency at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Mathematical Sciences working with Professor Lasse Rempe-Gillen. Links to performances of Leviathan and Orbits given by scapegoat.