The composer, accordionist and music publisher, Howard Skempton, was born in Chester in 1947. He has written more than 300 works – many of them miniatures for solo piano or accordion. Skempton calls these pieces ‘the central nervous system’ of his work.
His studies in London with Cornelius Cardew from 1967 led him to a musical language of great simplicity. He later became a founder member of the Scratch Orchestra with Michael Parsons and Cardew.
While Cage, Cardew, Feldman and LaMonte Young have been important to him at different stages, Howard Skempton has remained independent of mainstream trends in new music. His work is in the experimental tradition, characterised by an economy of means, a concentration on essentials and an absence of rhetoric, drama and decoration. He draws inspiration from extra-musical sources, including Constructivism in the visual arts, emphasising material and form. Working within chosen limits, discovering internal detail within a defined structure, he is concerned with the sound-material itself, rather than with expansion and development.
He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. In July 2018, Howard received an honorary award (Doctor of Music) from Bath Spa University.