Biography

Ed Hughes (born Bristol, UK, 1968) studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, with Robin Holloway and Alexander Goehr, and at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy. His work has been described as ‘polyphonic, clear and unique’ (Richard Casey, pianist).

Commissions include City of London Festival (an opera to a libretto by Glyn Maxwell, The Birds, for The Opera Group), Brighton Festival, I Fagiolini, Glyndebourne, Tacet Ensemble and London Sinfonietta.

Performances include City of London Festival, Buxton Opera House, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Linbury Studio Theatre, Jerusalem Music Centre, Salamanca Festival, Sydney Festival, BBC Singers and a number of BBC Radio 3 broadcasts.

Auditorium (2007) for Glyndebourne and Photoworks, an orchestral and electronics score arising from a collaboration with visual artist Sophy Rickett, was performed live at Glyndebourne in November 2007, and continues to tour internationally.

Compositions for the New Music Players, the ensemble he founded and directs, include Chamber Concerto (2010) at Kings Place London (Out Hear series).

He has written several ensemble scores for iconic silent films of the early twentieth century including Ivens’s Regen, Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin and Strike (Tartan Video 2007) and a series of scores for the BFI’s Ozu Collection.

He was shortlisted for the British Composer Awards categories New Media 2005, and Sonic Art 2008. He was shortlisted again in 2014 for Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey (2013) which won the liturgical category of the British Contemporary Awards 2014, held at the Goldsmiths Hall in the City of London on 2 December 2014. The jury commented 'the judges felt strongly drawn to pick a winner from outside the usual canon of liturgical work but was clearly liturgical in practice and remarked on its extraordinary range of colour and texture'.

His choral work, A Buried Flame (2010), was commissioned by the Bath Camerata for Wells Cathedral with the support of PRS Foundation. It was selected for performance at the 2012 ISCM World Music Days in Antwerp by Aquarius Chamber Choir.

A CD, Dark Formations, was released in 2012 in the USA on the Metier label.

When The Flame Dies, a chamber opera, was given its concert premiere at the 2012 Canterbury Festival by Sounds New, and is available on CD/DVD from Divine/Metier.

'The question is not if you like it, but if you can tear yourself away from it' Gramophone

'one of the more arresting and distinctive chamber operas to have emerged in the UK over recent years' Record Review

Ed Hughes founded the Orchestra of Sound and Light in 2015 to explore and enhance ensemble music-making and has been touring schools, HE and FE in Sussex with specially written ‘expandable scores’ and networked iPads. He was commissioned by the Brighton Festival 2016 to write ‘Brighton: Symphony of a City’, a collaboration with film maker Lizzie Thynne, for an expanded Orchestra of Sound and Light; the world premiere performance on 12 May 2016 sold out Brighton Dome. The second performance was at the newly opened ACCA (Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts) at the University of Sussex on 7 October 2016. 

Pianist Clare Hammond is touring The Nose for solo piano across the UK, including performances at the Cheltenham Festival, Kings Place in London, Cardiff University, and the Sound Festival Aberdeen on 2 March 2017. 

Divine/Metier will release a third portrait CD of Hughes's recent works with film in early 2017. 

His music is published by UYMP.

He is Professor of Composition in Music and Head of the Music Department at the University of Sussex.