Howard Skempton was born in Chester in 1947, and has worked as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. He studied in London with Cornelius Cardew from 1967 and Cardew helped him to discover a musical language of great simplicity. Since then he has continued to write undeflected by compositional trends, producing a corpus of more than 300 works - many pieces being miniatures for solo piano or accordion. Skempton calls these pieces "the central nervous system" of his work.
Skempton's catalogue of works is also as diverse as it is long, ranging from pieces for solo cello (Six Figures, 1998), and guitar (Five Preludes, 1999), to the Chamber Concerto for fifteen players, the Concerto for Hurdy-Gurdy and Percussion, and Lento, premièred by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in 1991, and performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov at the 2010 BBC Proms.
Recent work includes collaboration with textile artist Matthew Harris on Field Notes for oboe and string trio. A setting of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner for baritone (Roderick Williams) and ensemble, premiered by the BCMG in December 2015; a Piano Concerto for John Tilbury, commissioned by the BBC and premiered at the 2016 Tectonics Festival in Glasgow; and a new string quartet written for the Brodsky Quartet, to be premiered at the Harrogate Music Festival in July 2016.