We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University


Areas of expertise: Composition

Durham has a strong history of both acoustic and electroacoustic composition, dating back more than half a century. We currently have five members of staff working in the field, covering a wide range of areas, from orchestral and chamber music to electroacoustic, algorithmic, and live electronic music. All our staff members are active composers, working closely with colleagues and performers both in and outside academia, at institutions and venues in the UK and across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. For more about our members of staff, see the bottom of this page.

Teaching Composition

Postgraduate students have the benefit of a wide range of supported activities as well as regular supervision sessions with up to two members of staff. We encourage our composition students to take an active role in the Durham Composers Guild, which features masterclasses, concerts, and a discussion series, as well as in one or more of the department’s four contemporary music ensembles.

Composition Workshops

We believe that the only way to learn composition is to be given the chance to hear what you've written. For that reason, acoustic and mixed music composition workshops with professional musicians are an integral part of our teaching. Postgraduates are given the opportunity to work with our professional ensembles in residence, Ensemble 7Bridges and E7B SoundLab. These groups consist of leading performers in the North-East as well as some of the foremost contemporary music specialists in the world.

Studio facilities

For those who compose with music technology, we have three separate studios and a dedicated computer room with more than a dozen high-performance computers. We also have a separate Postgraduate Room with six further workstations, a Music and Science lab and an audiovisual editing room, and a Concert Room with the capacity to run electroacoustic concerts (a recent tribute concert to Peter Manning saw us set up a sixteen-channel system across two elevations).

Other Opportunities

As a composer it is crucial to have the opportunity to engage with the wider world of contemporary music. As well as bringing composers and performers to Durham, we therefore actively support and encourage our students in pursuing opportunities outside of the university. In recent years our students have engaged in a wide range of activities across the UK as well as further afield, including being composer in residence at the Southbank Centre (London), taking part in the Sound and Music "Adopt A Composer" scheme, judging regional auditions for BBC Young Musician of the Year (Mark Carroll), and participating in events such as the \*Vivo*\ Festival (Mexico City), Network Music Festival (Birmingham), Prague Quadrennial 2015, International Conference of Auditory Display (Graz), International Symposium of the Electronic Arts (Vancouver), Musik Festival (Bern), and Nantes Electronic Arts Recontre, Nantes (Shelly Knotts).


Professor Richard Rijnvos is an expert in acoustic composition, primarily for orchestra, and in the orchestration of piano repertoire from the first half of the 20th-century (Heitor Villa-Lobos, Isaac Albéniz, and others). In recent years he has been Composer in Residence with MCO (the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center), and he is currently involved in a long-term residency with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Amsterdam). Professor Rijnvos teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students in acoustic composition and is the module leader for the postgraduate Orchestration modules. Personal Website [ ]

Dr Nick Collins is a specialist in computer music, including algorithmic composition, live coding and interactive music systems, and electroacoustic music, as well as mixed music (e.g., for acoustic instrument and digital signal processing). He has strong research interests in artificial intelligence techniques applied within music composition and performance, the computer and programming languages as musical instrument, and the history and practice of electronic music. Personal Website [ ]

Dr Eric Skytterholm Egan is an expert in acoustic chamber music and works regularly with a range of different performers and ensembles, mainly on continental Europe and Scandinavia. His research interests lie in the development of new gesturally based instrumental techniques and timbres and the development of notational practice through computer-based graphical editing tools. Dr Egan supervises postgraduate students and runs the Department's NAME new music groups (jointly with Mr John Snijders) and the ensembles in residence. Personal Website [ ]

Prof Peter Manning has recently accepted the title of Emeritus Professor but is still actively involved in research in the Department. His area of expertise is the theory and practice of electroacoustic music, including the history and development of the associated technologies and repertory of works. Professor Manning is currently working on a joint research project with Michael Clarke and Frederic Dufeu at the University of Huddersfield analysing and modeling key works from the repertory for interactive study by musicologists and composers.

Dr James Weeks is an expert in acoustic composition, predominantly for small ensembles of instruments and/or voices, and a well-known conductor of new music, particularly with his vocal ensemble EXAUDI. He has strong research interests in microtonality, indeterminacy, experimental music and contemporary vocal music. He teaches undergraduate and postgraduate composition and is also module leader for the undergraduate conducting module. Personal website