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Durham has been a leading centre for Composition and new music research in the UK for the past half-century. Our five staff are internationally pre-eminent in their fields, which cover innovative acoustic composition (orchestral, chamber and vocal); electroacoustic, live electronic and computer music; and contemporary music performance (two of our staff currently also direct world-renowned new music ensembles EXAUDI and Ives Ensemble). All our staff are busy working composers, their music commissioned, performed and recorded worldwide.

Students have the benefit of a wide range of supported activities, including masterclasses, concerts, and discussion series. We believe strongly that you should hear as much of the music you create as possible. We bring some of the world’s leading new music performers to Durham to work with our postgraduate composers: as well as our ‘house’ bands EXAUDI (UK), Ensemble7Bridges (UK) and Ives Ensemble (NL), in the last few years we have worked with Explore Ensemble (UK), Loadbang (US), Roche/Zöllner (UK/Ger), Alpaca (NO), Ben Smith (UK) and Liam Byrne (US/Ger) among many others. For those who compose with music technology, we have three studios and a dedicated computer room with more than a dozen high-performance computers.

The new music community in Durham is highly active: we hold a regular Composition Reading Group, and lectures from guest composers often feature in the department’s main research forum. The department also hosts two concert series, MUSICON and Klang, both of which regularly promote new music. Further afield, the University has its own student-led new music ensemble, and there is a dynamic and diverse new music scene both in Durham and in nearby Newcastle-Gateshead.

We actively support and encourage our research students in pursuing opportunities outside the University. In recent years our students have engaged in a wide range of activities across the UK and internationally, including Composer-in-Residence at the Southbank Centre (London), Sound and Music "Adopt A Composer" scheme, and premieres in Canada, Europe and elsewhere

Image of can being played with a bow

Staff research interests

Find out more about our composers and their research interests here

Professor Nick Collins

Computer music, including algorithmic composition, live coding and interactive music systems, and electroacoustic music, as well as mixed music
Dr Nick Collins

Dr Eric Skytterholm Egan

Acoustic chamber music. New gesturally based instrumental techniques and timbres and the development of notational practice
Dr Eric Egan headshot image

Professor Richard Rijnvos

Acoustic composition, primarily for orchestra, and in the orchestration of piano repertoire from the first half of the 20th-century.
Richard Rijnvos conducting

Dr James Weeks

Acoustic composition. New music aesthetics. Experimental music. Microtonality. Contemporary vocal music. Contemporary music performance and Conducting
Dr James Weeks smiling at the camera