“I use my music to explore the human condition; to create abstract representations of actions or ideologies that have compelled me to a point where composition is the only means by which I’m able to articulate myself and clarify the subject’s many facets. I use bold colours, textures and geometry to create music that evokes the underlying humanist principles of the work; that elicits exploration, interpretation and introspection from the listener.”

Daniel Elms’ distinctive voice as a contemporary composer, humanist and prolific collaborator is captured in emotive soundscapes, which effortlessly fuse intricate orchestral textures with the electroacoustic instruments and urban sounds synonymous with his hometown of Hull in the North of England.

Elms studied composition at the Royal College of Music under Joseph Horovitz and was mentored by Kenneth Hesketh, Peter Stark, and Carlos Bonell. Taking inspiration from progressive and humanist ideologies, his work addresses disparate social, economic, and political relationships between people and cities, and offers intimate commentaries on the human condition.

Elms’ music has been performed by members of the London Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Aurora Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Manchester Collective, the Balanescu Quartet, the Jubilee String Quartet, and prominent soloists such as Richard Harwood, Thomas Gould, Peter Gregson, Joby Burgess and Giacomo Bigoni. Elms has also amassed a varied repertoire of collaborative works across feature film and theatre, including the BAFTA-nominated Ralph, the Academy-Award-nominated Library of Burned Books, Plaques and Tangles at Royal Court Theatre, and additional music for the Emmy-nominated score for Taboo by Ridley Scott and Tom Hardy, for which he worked closely with fellow composer Max Richter.

Elms was the recipient of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund Emerging Excellence Award in 2013. In 2016, he was commissioned by the British Film Institute to create a new work, Bethia, to celebrate his hometown as part of Hull City of Culture 2017, for which he received the PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial Award; this composition for octet and motion picture premiered in Hull as part of City of Culture 2017 and was also performed at the Royal Festival Hall, London, with a recorded broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

In 2017, Elms will record his debut album of concert material, Islandia, at Abbey Road Studios. The album is a collection of five stand-alone compositions that explore the sea and solitude; the works were written in isolation on the East-Anglian coast whilst in residency at the former home of composer Imogen Holst and integrate a bowed electric guitar and electroacoustic instruments with a chamber orchestra. During the year, Elms will also be composing a new work for Manchester Collective as part of a year-long residency with the ensemble, which will premier at the 100 Demons concert in early 2018, with a further three performances across the UK. Additionally, Daniel will also be collaborating on a soundtrack for the computer game Failure: Neuro Slicers by indie developer Dream Harvest Games, and will produce various artists from Hull as part of City of Culture 2017 and the on-going development of Hull’s contemporary music scene.

To strengthen Hull’s burgeoning contemporary classical scene and the representation of new music in the North of England, Elms is forming a collective with musicians, producers and curators from Hull to develop a state-of-the-art recording and performance space within the city. Penny Red Arts will be an artisan facility dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through low-cost workspaces, mentoring schemes, and AAA-grade facilities. This endeavour is part of an on-going series of collaborations that are designed to promote contemporary music in the North of England, and provide artists and audiences alike with the opportunity to engage with contemporary art.

Daniel Elms is signed to independent music publisher Music Sales Classical and is an LSO Soundhub Associate of 2017-19.

“…a composer with a burgeoning reputation both for his electroacoustic urban pictures and his contemporarily-informed explorations of the human condition.” — Hugh Morris, Bach Track

Black & White portrait by Nick West