In anticipation of the exciting World Premiere of Hinterland by Howard Skempton coming this September, we have prepared a digital content drop for you on all things Howard Skempton! Get listening, reading, and watching.

Born in Chester in 1947, Howard Skempton has worked as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. Renowned for the distinctive clarity of his musical language, he has composed over 300 pieces, many of which are miniatures for solo piano or accordion.

"Skempton's harmony is nothing if not explicit and precise, and he wrings maximum effect from a pared minimum of matter . . . The pieces contain nothing they do not need, and nothing could be subtracted without loss . . . Skempton composes essences, and they go straight to the heart." Tempo

"His roots in the British experimental movement give him an exceptionally keen focus on his material so that each piece is like applying a Webernian microscope to familiar, tonal musical objects." Music Teacher


Hinterland Commission

Hinterland will be Howard's fifth commission with BCMG! Listen to him talk all about it during our recent BCMG Chats. Hear Hinterland live at Howard Skempton's Birthday Bash in Leamington Spa & West Malling.


What does a Composer want for their Birthday?

Read our Q&A with Howard Skempton and find out important facts like what to get him for his Birthday.

Birthday Blog


Ben Somewhen Commission

Ben Somewhen was commissioned for Howard Skempton by BCMG and performed on 29 April 2005 at CBSO Centre. 

The title refers to a set of drawings by the brilliantly gifted and original, but equally reclusive, British artist, Ben Hartley (1933-96). Since Hartley’s death, his work has become known through the efforts of the friend to whom it was entrusted, Bernard Samuels, a former director of Plymouth Arts Centre. My piece for BCMG is dedicated to Bernard and is a musical commentary on fifteen of the hundred-odd drawings (adorned with texts) which comprise Ben Somewhen. It also serves as a tribute to the double bassist, John Tattersdill. The idea of writing a concertante work for double bass and ensemble contributed greatly to the character of the piece and the choice of instrumentation.” 

Ben Somewhen features on the disc of the same name, released by NMC Recordings.

Listen to the album:


Field Notes

In 2014, using old county maps and graphic scores as common starting points, composer Howard Skempton and artist Matthew Harris created a brand new work each for public performances. Harris’ intricately layered artworks were on view and available to enjoy up close, as four of BCMG’s world-class musicians perform Skempton’s new piece, Field Notes, and short pieces by other leading composers.




The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Album 

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was written for Roderick Williams and BCMG and was recorded in 2017.

Skempton takes on Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and brings it to life, using just solo voice and a small chamber ensemble. The result is a stunning, dark and hypnotic journey. This won Gramaphone Editor's Choice June 2017, Presto Classical Top 100 Recordings of 2017 and Spotify Top 100 Classical Recordings 2017.

Listen to the album:



Delicate was a collaboration with Motionhouse Dance Theatre for a full-length dance piece with music by Howard Skempton commissioned and performed by BCMG. First performed by BCMG with Motionhouse Dance Theatre at Warwick Arts Centre on 14 March 1996. Delicate delved into the dark underbelly of human need and desire. It followed the events of one night, where six characters reached out for a cure for their loneliness, dissatisfaction and need, using powerful text and imagery.

"Howard Skempton’s commissioned score is a miracle of diversity. Beguiled into hearing bells, gamelan, sitar, and bagpipes, it is hard to believe it all comes from just two cellos and percussion." Independent on Sunday


Photos by Chris Nash


Activities for Young People

Happy Birthday - Composing at Home

Celebrate the birthday of composer Howard Skempton by creating your own mash-up of the melody Happy Birthday.

Ben Somewhen - Composing at Home

Compose a simple melody using crotchets and minims inspired by Ben Somewhen by composer Howard Skempton. 



Book Tickets to the September Concerts

Howard Skempton's Concert  - Leamington Spa

Howard Skempton's Concert  - Malling