Opus 1: Getting to know... Emma Clarke - Britten Sinfonia - News & Blog

Opus 1: Getting to know… Emma Clarke

Meet Emma Clarke, a classical guitarist and relative newcomer to composition. Find out more about her here:


  • What inspires you to compose?

So many things! I find inspiration in all sorts of places: random thoughts, philosophy, science, art, architecture, books, photography, films, food, nature… I find I’m writing a lot about current affairs and I’m in the middle of a whole load of pieces about the ethics of technology.


  • What sort of music do you like to write?

It’s not the sort of stuff you’d rock out to! I write music about the things I can’t say in words, I suppose. I love to write for choreography and film. Writing for opera is also top fun.


  • How did you get into composition?

I only started writing seriously in September 2020 so it’s been a very fast process for me. (I wrote bits and bobs when I was a kid – I’m a classical guitarist – but they were just fragments). I was driving along the M40 and I just asked myself what kind of music I’d write if I ever tried. Then honestly I could suddenly hear loads of music and felt compelled to write it down. I couldn’t NOT write!


  • Why do you think creating new music is important?

Music is an inexhaustible source of wonders. It helps me understand myself and the world around me. Music helps people develop empathy, emotional intelligence and can open people up to new ways of connecting with themselves and other people. I think music helps people cope. Life can be extremely challenging sometimes…and music can change the world!

A woman posing for a selfie

  • What is the hardest thing about being a composer?
  • Making a start. When I have a yawningly blank piece of paper in front of me, that’s the hardest moment. But you have to start with something – anything – a chord, a melody, a rhythm to just mark the paper and dare to begin.
  • What’s your biggest compositional ambition?

I love writing music for full orchestras. I’d love to hear my stuff played at the Royal Opera House, or the Proms… Well, a girl can dream!


  • What 3 pieces of music would you have to have on your desert island?

Beethoven’s 5th. Marjan Mozetich’s ‘Affairs of the Heart.’ Radiohead’s ‘Everything In Its Right Place.’


  • What is the best snack?

How long have you got?! Nakd bars (chocolate orange). Pineapple. Toast. Any form of bread. Rice cakes with dark chocolate on the top. Roasted sunflower seeds. And Bendicks Bittermints are basically currency in my house…


You can discover more about Emma’s work on her website.

Click here to meet the rest of our 2022 Opus 1 cohort

Click here to meet our previous Opus 1 composers