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David Ibbett

Boston, MA   

David Ibbett is a British composer based in Boston, USA. His music explores the fascinating conflux between the worlds of the classical, contemporary, acoustic and the electronic. By working to fuse elements from a host of contrasting styles, David aspires to create art music that is rich, direct and dramatically deep. 

David composes works for instruments and electronics, directs the performance series Music of Reality in partnership with pianist Sophia Vastek, and teaches composition at the Yamaha School of Boston. He is an active electronics performer and live sound director, working with Aeoliean Progression, Original Gravity and the Equilibrium Ensemble.

In 2004, David won a scholarship to attend Clare College Cambridge, studying composition with Giles Swayne and Robin Holloway. He then went on to undertake a Masters and Artist Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Julian Anderson, living in London for several years. In 2015, he completed a doctorate at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Jonty Harrison and Scott Wilson. He frequently travels between the US and the UK. Over the course of these journeys, David has written works spanning many forms: from traditional ensembles to inter-arts collaborations, installations, digital releases and works with live electronics.

For chamber groups, compositions include Without Words for the Living Room in London Ensemble [2010, LSO St Luke’s, toured around Europe, recorded for their debut album]:

“[Without Words], really appealed to us and we have taken it into our repertoire. It is the only commission on our CD and we love it. It has really pushed us technically, and opened doors to new ideas and compositions.” – Living Room in London Ensemble

Albion Trails for the BBC Symphony Octet [2009, for Barbican Total Immersion, broadcast on BBC Radio 3]: 

“Conductor Richard Baker provided confident and precise direction from the podium. I enjoyed listening to all three works, but particularly appreciated David Ibbett’s Albion Trails.”

– Rosalind Porter for BBC Radio 3 Blog

and Briar Rose for the Hermes Ensemble [2014, Birmingham’s Elgar Concert Hall]. His work Lodestar for sinfonietta has won the Horsbrugh Memorial Prize and was premiered at the City of London Festival in 2009. 

Collaborations frequently take David’s music outside of traditional forms of the concert hall. He has composed scores for many plays including Finding the SunThe IliadThe Wasteland and Macbeth at the Cambridge ADC. David has several long running partnerships with contemporary dance choreographers, notably Jacob Hobbs and Letizia Mazzeo. This has led to his works being performed at The Place Resolutions! [Dahlia – 2011, Project 51 – 2012, 27 Dragonflies – 2013], the Laban Dance Theatre [Miksang – 2011], and the Circuit Soup Screen Dance Festival [Highwalking – 2010].  He has worked with filmmakers [In the Garden – 2009, Insomnia – 2010], architects [The King and the Minotaur installation – 2011], and live-game designers [Baba Yaga installation – 2011].

David’s music increasingly reflects a passion for working with electronics, both as a voice and a tool in composition. This fascination began in 2008, when he undertook a residency at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, studying with Jonathan Harvey, composing Cellosamper for Olly Coates. The work was later selected for performance at the Faster Than Sound Festival at Bentwaters Airbase. From this moment, electronics have been the key to unifying the diverse influences that permeate David’s work – allowing sounds to be shaped, juxtaposed and transformed with seamless precision. His Ph.D. research focuses on sampling as a tool for bridging the difficult gap between live, breathing musicians and the software-controlled speaker cone of electronic music. He addresses these challenges through unique Max and Max for Live patches, often contributing to other composers’ works – including the Ph.Ds of Enrico Bertelli and Zezo Olympio at York University.

David’s electroacoustic compositions aim to combine the depth and expression of a live performer with the power, control and rhythmic energy of electronic music. Projects are often collaborative as, to truly explore the sound of an instrument, who better a guide than the instrumentalist?  A frequent collaborator is ‘cellist Gregor Riddell, the pair working together on Impulse Imagined [2010, premiered at Kings Place alongside Todd Machover]:

“The textures and timbres provided by the DSP contributed meaningfully to the compositions’ narrative arc and lent extra emotional tension and complexity to the pieces.” – Chamber Music Today

and Islandsconcerto for amplified ‘cello and electronics [2014, premiered at Birmingham’s Elgar Concert Hall with BEAST – the Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre – US premiere at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival with Craig Hultgren]. In 2012, David released For Now, an album of electroacoustic songs-without-words through iTunes and www.davidibbett.com, collaborating with many London based instrumentalists. He regularly performs his electroacoustic works as a live diffusion performer, with BEAST and other international multichannel systems.

David’s music has been performed at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Barbican Total Immersion, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK National Portrait Gallery, Clare College Music Society, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Coventry University recital series, Nonclassical, Banff Centre Encounters series, Voiceworks at Wigmore Hall, BEASTiary concert series, iFimPaC (Leeds College of Music), Bristol Victoria Rooms, London Institute of Contemporary Art concert series, Spitalfields Festival, Hendon Festival, Logos Foundation, Boston’s The Record Company, EMM Festival, Klangspuren Festival Austria, Red Sonic Festival, Vortex Jazz Club recital series, The Village Underground concert series, Seven Bridges Project, Leeds University Music Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival, Mapmaking at LSO St Luke’s, Faster Than Sound concert series.

Islands – concert for cello and electronics

A live recording of Islands from the 2014 BEAST concert series at Birmingham University with cellist Gregor Riddell.

Islands is a ‘musical drama’, a story told through a fusion of styles. The concerto, symphony, acousmatic music and the song all have their part to play. Though abstract, many of the piece’s themes explore the different aspects of love – a lonely ‘needing, longing’ kind (no man is an island) becoming gradually destructive and giving way to something new, something thankful, a sense of togetherness, completeness.

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Without Words – quintet for strings, bass clarinet and hang

Without words was commissioned in March 2010 by Manu Delago and the Living Room in London quintet and premiered on the 18th of May in the Olive Branch Theatre in central London. The work was inspired by the Lieder ohne Worte of Felix Mendelssohn and ideas of instrumental song – how instruments alone and in combination can embody the vocal, and how this state is reached, transformed and dissolved.

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Music of Reality – Trailer

Music of Reality is a multi-disciplinary concert series that combines art, science, music, and any and all interdisciplinary dialogue to celebrate the beauty of reality.

We invite scientists, philosophers, and other great minds from the cutting-edge to share their knowledge and passion as part of an integrated performance with artists, musicians, and composers.

We create a space where those who are passionate about discovery can come together, from all angles, and find points of convergence and new discovery.

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