photo of Ed Hughes

Prof Ed Hughes

Post:Professor of Composition in Music (Music)
Other posts:Head of Department of Music (School of Media, Film and Music)
Location:SILVERSTONE SB 232
Email:E.D.Hughes@sussex.ac.uk
Personal homepage:http://edhughes.org.uk

Telephone numbers
Internal:7806
UK:01273 877806
International:+44 1273 877806

Research expertise:
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Biography

I am a composer interested in ensemble performance in the digital age: I lead an interdisciplinary project on networking technologies and the experience of ensemble performance. I also work on music and silent film, for which I have produced many original scores for both early film and in collaboration with film makers and visual artists today.

I have worked with numerous regional and national organisations, including Glyndebourne Education, Photoworks, Imperial War Museum, Brighton Festival, East Sussex Music Service, AudioActive, Brighton and Hove Music Service, Our Future City, The New Music Players and Orchestra of Sound and Light. I am co-chair of the University of Sussex Centre for Research in Creative and Performing Arts.

My music has been performed internationally and released on CD (Metier Records) and on DVD (BFI, Tartan).

I was recognised by a British Composer Award 2014 for Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey, following its premiere and two BBC Radio 3 broadcasts in 2013.

My music has been described as ‘polyphonic, clear and unique’ (Richard Casey, pianist). I studied music at Cambridge University, including composition with Robin Holloway and Alexander Goehr, and at Southampton University with Michael Finnissy.

I completed an opera for five voices, ensemble and electronics, When the Flame Dies (2012), which responded to Jean Cocteau's 1950 film Orphée; initially funded by the Royal Opera House and developed by Brighton Festival it was released by Metier/Divine Art on DVD in 2013, was the subject of essays by scholars Prof James Williams and Prof Michal Grover-Friedlander, and was subsequently reviewed in Gramophone, International Record Review and Tempo.

My scores to the classic silent films by Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Strike (1924), were released in 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital on a DVD set by Tartan (2007). Extracts from my score to Battleship Potemkin were included in the TV series 'The Story of Film' by Mark Cousins (More 4, 2011).

I supervise doctoral students across a broad range of topics related to music and composition (see below), and welcome suggestions for new topics. I am Head of the Music Department in the School of Media, Film and Music.

 

Reviews

Beware: this opera may take you hostage with its ability to get under your skin and its willingness to use any technological means to do so... Loosely based on Jean Cocteau's history of heartbreak, opium addiction and impaired creativity, Hughes's Poet protagonist is faced with a choice... as with any good opera, this one convincingly creates its own logic... Roger Morris's libretto gains much of its entrancing quality through the leeway of ambiguity plus provocative discussions about the moral implications of bringing people back to life. The 12-member ensemble reveals much effective compositional strategy with motivic repetition, nagglingly obsessive long-held notes in the winds and just plain alchemy...Purely electronic interludes are full of oblique commentary...

David Patrick Stearns, Gramophone, 1 May 2014 on When the Flame Dies (review of Metier CD/DVD release)

Hughes's music fizzes with invention, deriving maximum colour from his small band... There's also a striking electronic interlude, crackling into life through radio static to represent Cocteau's 'Zone', the liminal space between dream and reality, inspiration and banality.

Leo Chadburn, Tempo (Vol 68, Issue 268, April 2014), pp 105-10720 March 2014 on When the Flame Dies (review of three recent opera DVDs including Tempest (Ades) and Written on Skin (Benjamin))

Following on from Dark Formations, the wide-ranging conspectus of his ensemble and instrumental music (reviewed in January 2013), Metier continues its coverage of Ed Hughes with his chamber opera When the Flame Dies...The present piece has its basis in the life and work of Jean Cocteau – specifically the tragically young death of his muse (and probably lover) Raymond Radiguet, whose passing was both commemorated and transcended in the play Orphée – as well as more indirectly several plays and films...the composer’s constant resourcefulness is evident from the two interludes that are inserted roughly a third and two-thirds of the way through the score: the first of these solely for electronics (whose presence is discreetly pervasive across the work as a whole), and the second a brief though limpid passage for ensemble that points up the sensitivity of Hughes’s scoring. As with the music on that previous release, his idiom is broadly that of a post-war modernism which is personal enough to resonate with the listener... this release enables one to get to grips with one of the more arresting and distinctive chamber operas to have emerged in the UK over recent years.

Richard Whitehouse, International Record Review 1 March 2014

 

Commissions

2016 Brighton Festival - Brighton: Symphony of a City (collaboration with Lizzie Thynne)

2015 Music of our time/Brighton Science Festival - Night Music

2014 Lake District Summer Music - Against that time...

2013 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music - Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey

2013 Park Lane Group - Summer Light

2010 Bath Camerata / PRS Foundation - A Buried Flame

2008 Tacet Ensemble / Arts Council England - Farewell Lads and Lasses

2007 Glyndebourne / Photoworks - Auditorium

2007 Arts Council England - Strike

2005 The Opera Group / City of London Festival / Arts Council England - The Birds

2005 Brighton Festival - Battleship Potemkin

2004 Brighton Festival - Memory of Colour

 

Awards

2014 British Composers Award for Liturgical Chaconne for Jonathan Harvey (winner)

2008 British Composers Award Nomination for Sonic Art Auditorium

2005 British Composers Award Nomination for New Media Memory of Colour

2005 The Gresham College Prize awarded for The Birds

 

Research students

Edward Briggs - Repurposing arts tools and equipment in creative and critical practice

Joseph Baxter - Musical communication in classical ensemble settings

Danny Bright - Ghosting Sonic Heritage: How can sound and music works interrogate sonic memory and temporality in relation to ruined, disused and repurposed industrial or post-industrial spaces?

Epameinondas Fasianos - Audiovisuals and musical composition (completed: MPhil)

Daniel Hignell - Compositional practices for a better world: sounding, being and the common good

Tom Reid - Audiovisual syntaxes in contemporary compositional readings of early abstract cinema

 

External

2016-19 Royal Holloway University of London external examiner (taught postgraduate)

2015-18 Royal College of Music external examiner (taught postgraduate)

2014 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards jury member

16 Oct 2013 BFI London Film Festival Panel - Sounds on Screen

2010-2013 British Film Institute - scores and articles for The Ozu Collection

2012 World Music Days (Antwerp)

2012 Sounds New/Canterbury Festival

2011 V&A - Displaying Music

BBC Radio 3 (various interviews and broadcasts)

2011 Israel Contemporary Players (Tel Aviv)

2010 Imperial War Museum - Dark Formations

7 March 2009 De La Warr Pavilion - Michael Nyman panel

2008 British Library - Breaking the rules exhibition

 

Websites

http://edhughes.org.uk

http://www.uymp.co.uk/composers/ed-hughes [publisher: University of York Music Press]

 

Role

Professor of Composition in Music

Head of Music Department, School of Media, Film & Music

Community and Business

I have worked with numerous regional and national organisations, including Glyndebourne Education, Photoworks, Imperial War Museum, Brighton Festival, East Sussex Music Service, AudioActive, Brighton and Hove Music Service, Our Future City, The New Music Players and Orchestra of Sound and Light. I am co-chair of the University of Sussex Centre for Research in Creative and Performing Arts.