Opus 1: Getting to know... Dani Howard - Britten Sinfonia - News & Blog

Opus 1: Getting to know… Dani Howard

Meet Dani Howard, a composer and orchestrator, and one of our Programme Leaders for Opus 1. Find out more about her here:

 

    • What are you looking forward to about being part of Opus 1?
    • I am really looking forward to seeing what these composers create, and how they use their experience in the workshops to really learn, and explore different ideas that are out of their comfort zones.

 

  • Who has been your biggest musical influence so far?
  • My formative influence was my cello teacher Richard Bamping who I studied under from age 10-18. He truly opened my mind to classical music, and made me fall in love with this art form. Secondly, my composition teacher during my undergraduate, Jonathan Cole, taught me everything about composing. He was the first person I ever had a composition lesson with, and was so influential in every way in how I write music now.
    • How did you get into composition?
      • I started by wanting to change existing pieces that I was learning on cello and piano, or feeling that I wanted to add additional parts to a solo to a solo piece. I also wrote a lot of songs growing up, and really enjoyed this way of making music.

     

  • What inspires you to compose?

Everything from places I go to, art and sculpture that I see, people and personal experiences.

  • What sort of music do you like to write?
  • I do love the variety that comes with composing, though at this point in time, I am particularly enjoying orchestral writing. It feel unlimited when it comes to texture and sound-worlds that I would like to explore. That being said, I do love working intimately with soloists and chamber musicians, as this can be so fulfilling in a totally different way.

 

What is your favourite instrument (or voice) to compose for?

I particularly enjoy writing for percussion and brass! I find percussion ‘unlimited’ in it’s possibilities, and I have a lot of ‘bucketlist’ pieces I would like to write with different combinations. I enjoy brass writing, because I did not grow up listening to any brass music, and I remember moving to the UK at age 18, and just being blown away by the sound of British Brass.

 

Why do you think creating new music is important?

Creating, commissioning, performing and listening to new music is SO important. We would be without any of ‘the greats’ of history if it weren’t for people of the time commissioning new works. Composers need time to develop their craft, and it is a hands-on learning curve that requires experience working with musicians. I feel that everyone has something to say, and while the way in which this can be expressed is different for everyone, there are certainly many of us that have music as our way of communicating, and saying what we need to say.

 

    • If you could write a brand new piece for anyone in the world, who would you choose?
    • My cello teacher – Richard Bamping, and also Yuja Wang.

 

  • What’s your biggest compositional achievement?

I am really proud of the Casa Batllo project that I completed in 2020. This was an hour of music I wrote for symphony orchestra, percussion quartet and electronics, which now is heard by over a million visitors each year. It was an exceptionally collaborative project, involving working with so many musicians, composing, recording and delivering this music. It was certainly a huge challenge which really brought me out of my comfort zone, but it also taught me so much, and allowed me to meet so many wonderful people along the way.

 

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

The Protecting Veil by John Tavener.
Britten’s Cello Suite No. 1
Harmonielehre by John Adams

 

  • What is the best snack?

Hula Hoops!!

 

Find out more about Dani on her website

Click here to meet our 2022 Opus 1 composers

Click here to meet our previous Opus 1 composers