Music and Mathematics, Chaos or Chess



Emily Howard’s music is known for its particular connection with science and mathematics. In 2015, she spent 10 months as composer in residence at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Liverpool (UK), immersing herself in and discussing topics of recent and current mathematical research, including recent work by Lasse Rempe-Gillen in the area of dynamical systems. 

In this presentation, Prof. Rempe-Gillen will briefly outline this research (for a general audience). Dr Howard will then discuss which specific ideas from this work were used to create an initial set of compositions she calls “Orbits”, which then influenced her large-scale Concerto for Orchestra “Torus” (commissioned for the BBC Proms 2016).

The most recent “Orbit”, “Chaos or Chess”, was written for solo microtonal tuba in collaboration with Jack using the same mathematical ideas as in the earlier pieces, but in a very different way compositionally from the other Orbits. Howard and Adler-McKean will speak about this collaboration and how, in particular, the conversations about Adler-McKean’s specific technical innovations influenced many compositional decisions.


Presented by composer Emily Howard (Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester), with mathematician Lasse Rempe-Gillen (University of Liverpool) and tuba virtuoso Jack Adler McKean.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017




IACS Seminar Room