Dr Bofan Ma appointed RNCM PRiSM Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Composer-performer and multidisciplinary artist Dr Bofan Ma joined the PRiSM team in December 2021.

24 January 2022

Dr Bofan Ma, RNCM PRiSM PDRA. Photograph by Lu Liu

Bofan’s work explores the intersection between instrumental theatre and live musical performance. He is particularly interested in the development of accessible new music technologies, as well as their impact on making musical works that engage a multitude of contemporary social and political struggles.

He holds a PhD in composition from the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester Metropolitan University (recently completed in November 2021).

Previously supervised by Professor Emily Howard, Dr Larry Goves, and Dr Josh Edelman, he was one of PRiSM’s doctoral researchers and a founding member of the PRiSM postgraduate study group. He is also a member of the RNCM Experimental / Exploratory Music Research Centre (EEMRC).

Bofan has been featured in many PRiSM events and collaborations since 2017. These include working alongside Professor Keeley Crockett (Manchester Metropolitan University) as part of PRiSM 8-Cubed 2018. This collaboration has led to a series of compositions that compare the ‘concert hall’ with an AI-assisted border crossing scenario (read his PRiSM Blog offset iii – what makes human human?).

The inaugural RNCM PRiSM Future Music in June 2019 saw the premiere of Dying Archon #rulingwheel$1 (2019), a joint project between Bofan and RNCM composer-producer Tywi J H Roberts, as well as saxophonist Simeon Evans. The project uses Virtual Reality technology as a creative lens to reflect on our ever-shifting relationships with the ‘mundane’ in a hyper-connected digital world:

He was also one of the composer-performers featured in Together Apart – Composing in the Age of Zoom during Future Music #2 in June 2020, mentored by Professor Jennifer Walshe. His #outtakes I (2020), along with two other audio-visual compositions by RNCM & PRiSM associate composers Ellen Sargen and Fraz Ireland, has attracted more than 3,000 views across many platforms since the initial livestream:

As part of his new role at PRiSM, Bofan joins the ML4M working group to research novel methods of creatively utilising Machine Learning technology in music-making. The group is currently preparing for their second series of UNSUPERVISED events in June 2022 and more details can be found here.

We are so pleased to welcome Bofan into his new role at PRiSM. He brings with him outstanding skills as a composer-performer, a researcher, an inter-media practitioner who embraces digital technology, and a thoughtful and engaged collaborator with an ongoing commitment to collaborating with diverse communities across the North West and further afield. It was a great privilege to work closely with Bofan throughout his doctoral studies and we are very excited about the future directions his research may take.

Professor Emily Howard, Director PRiSM

PRiSM is about interdisciplinarity and new methods, languages and works. It’s fantastic to have Bofan on board because his skills capture this spirit of compositional experimentation and collaboration, epitomizing the PRiSM approach. We’re all looking forward to working with him.

Professor David De Roure, PRiSM Technical Director

Bofan’s Biography

Bofan Ma (马博凡) is a Manchester-based composer-performer and multidisciplinary artist. Originally from China, he makes music that embodies an intricate entanglement between sound and performative actions, as well as a normalised, transnational artistic identity.

His work often draws upon elements of instrumental theatre, multimedia, preconditioned improvisation, and materials associated with historically and culturally-informed stereotypes.

Bofan has worked with ensembles/initiatives including Shanghai Conservatory Chinese Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Psappha, Ensemble Mise-en, Ensemble X.y, Vonnegut Collective, Music Theatre Wales, Kinetic Manchester. His music has been heard across the globe, namely in the Shanghai Spring International Festival (China); Mise-en International Festival (USA); Hearing Art Seeing Sound International Festival (Armenia); and Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Germany).

Bofan completed his practice-led doctoral research at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2021 (fully funded by the RNCM). Defended with no corrections, his doctoral thesis and portfolio of compositions explore a multi-faceted ‘dialogue’ between sound and performance physicality.

He is one of the founders of, and curators for the composer collective The Incógnito Project, promoting interdisciplinary collaborations and a truly diverse, unbiased artistic practice. He is also a committee member of the Manchester branch of the international Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) network, a community-based new music group with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility.

I’m beyond grateful for continuing to be part of the vivid research community at PRiSM and the RNCM. With direct access to all of the cutting-edge creative tools currently being developed here, I believe it is a perfect opportunity for me to gain a deeper insight on the meaning of being a Chinese artist in the age of AI, as well as making impactful research and artwork that may subvert any institutionalised barriers around it.

Dr Bofan Ma, PRiSM Post-Doctoral Research Associate