Imagining the Analytical Engine – The Creative Process

Composers Patricia Alessandrini, Shiva Feshareki, Robert Laidlow and Emily Howard in conversation

5 June 2020

On 2 November 2019, PRiSM Director and RNCM Professor of Composition, Emily Howard, curated an evening of new music and discussion ‘Ada Lovelace | Imagining the Analytical Engine’ inspired by the life and work of Ada Lovelace, an early pioneer of the computer.

The programme began with a performance of Howard’s Ada sketches (2011), and continued with four Barbican-commissioned world premieres, each a response to Lovelace and her prescient ideas.

Lovelace valued music and mathematics equally. It was through the metaphor of music that Lovelace communicated her prescient vision that computers might eventually do more than process numbers – that they might even compose music. Composer Emily Howard OK computer: how Ada Lovelace is being brought to musical life 2 Nov 2019 The Guardian

In addition to the performances, the compere for the evening, BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor, interviewed each of the composers on stage about their piece. These discussions revealed insights into the compositional process, and the augmented and new instruments featured.

We are pleased to share these interviews (below) featuring composer/sound artist Patricia Alessandrini and composer/turntablist Shiva Feshareki, alongside PRiSM’s Robert Laidlow and Emily Howard.

  1. Emily Howard | Ada sketches
  2. Robert Laidlow | Alter
  3. Patricia Alessandrini | Ada’s Song
  4. Shiva Feshareki | Perpetual Motion
  5. Emily Howard | But then, what are these numbers?

The pieces were performed by Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Britten Sinfonia conducted by William Cole, and can be watched in full here.