Emma-Ruth Richards is a composer born in the UK in 1985. Her deeply expressive and highly charged music has been championed by many ensembles and soloists in the UK and abroad. She is acclaimed for her understanding of both instrumental and vocal writing and her music has been described as “accomplished” (Times), and “simply beautiful” (Opera North, Bachtrack) – “She is a composer at the top of her game…possessing exceptional refinement and subtlety with a gift for writing lucid, impassioned and compelling music” (Musical Opinion).
Her most recent work is a piano Étude Escape for Tamara Stefanovich commissioned by Philharmonie Luxembourg, premiered in January 2022. Emma-Ruth and performance artist and writer Nicola Chalmers are currently developing Rooms, a new work for oboe, viola and cello, commissioned by Camerata Pacifica. A new arrangement of an orchestral song from The Sail of a Flame will be premiered at Wigmore Hall on International Women’s Day 2024, commissioned by Wild Plum Arts and supported by the Vaughan Williams Foundation.
March 2020 saw the world premiere tour of a new cello duet Until a Reservoir No Longer Remains commissioned by Guy Johnston and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, which culminated with a final performance at the Southbank Centre as part of the International Chamber Music Series. Other recent works include a solo aria Secure the Ghosts for the National Opera Studio, and a new string quartet Tenebris Litterarum (Dark Letters) for the Carducci Quartet which was premiered at Presteigne Festival 2020. The Sail of a Flame, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and mezzo Lucy Schaufer, was premiered and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in January 2020. In previous years performances and commissioned work has included The Precious Art of Scars for the Albany Trio for International Women’s Day 2019, Sciamachy for Britten Sinfonia, La douleur exquise (Musiques Nouvelles), and An English House for the London Sinfonietta. 2018/19 saw multiple performances by the Zelkova Quartet (Manchester), Camerata Pacifica (California) and James Turnball (Presteigne Festival), and the release of Moto Quarto CD featuring Dark Radiance (solo cello) for the American premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
In 2019 Emma-Ruth was awarded the PRS Composer’s Fund to complete her opera Traffick, written with librettist Nicola Chalmers; Traffick has been commissioned and developed with the Nordland Teater, Norway, The Royal Opera House and Mahogany Opera. 2017 saw the premieres of a new commission from London Sinfonietta, a new chamber orchestra piece for Britten Sinfonia premiered at the Barbican Centre, and ‘Two Worlds’ CD release of You Cannot Fold a Flood.
Emma-Ruth has been commissioned by London Sinfonietta, Opera North Orchestra, London Philharmonia, Håkan Hardenberger, Colin Currie, Nicholas Daniel, Mark Van de Wiel, Paul Silverthorne, Dudok Kwartet, BBC NOW Chamber Players, and The Absolution Saxophone Quartet amongst others. She is a Royal Northern Gold Medal composer and has featured in festivals including Cheltenham (2019), Presteigne (2018), Mahogany Opera’s Various Stages Festival (2017), York Spring Festival (2017), Mons Capital of Culture (2015), Southbank’s Changing Britain Festival (2015), Aldeburgh (2014), Sound Scotland (2013), Internationaal Kamermuziekfestival Den Haag (2012), St. Magnus Festival (2012), Sounds New Canterbury (2010), and Music of Today Southbank (2009).
Emma-Ruth read music at Cardiff University and then completed her PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music. She has been mentored by composers such as Alexander Goehr, Oliver Knussen, Judith Weir, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and Colin Matthews.