Irish composer Ed Bennett was born in Bangor, Co.Down. His music, which has been described in the press as ‘anarchic’ (Irish Times), ‘manic’ (Classical Music) and ‘thrilling’ (Gramophone) is often characterised by its strong rhythmic energy, extreme contrasts and the combination of acoustic, electronic and multimedia elements; it was recently described in The Guardian as ‘unclassifiable, raw-nerve music of huge energy and imagination’ and by Sinfini Music as ‘one of the most scintillating voices to emerge of late from the British Isles.’ His body of work includes large-scale orchestral works, ensemble pieces, solo works, electronic music, opera, installations and works for dance and film. In 2019 he was awarded the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Major Individual Artist Award, the highest honour awarded to an artist from the region.
He performs with and directs his own ensemble, Decibel, which is dedicated to the performance of new and experimental cross-discipline work and with whom he has released three critically acclaimed CDs of his music. Dzama Stories (Quartz Music) was described as ‘a glorious addition to the contemporary canon…I haven’t heard a disc of Irish Composition as vital and as urgent as this in a long while’ (Musical Criticism, 5/5 stars) and My Broken Machines (NMC) was Chicago Time Out’s No.1 Contemporary CD of 2011. His most recent release ‘Togetherness’ (2018) was described in a 5 star review in Classical Music Magazine as ‘high-octane music that demands the listeners attention.’
He has been commissioned and performed the world over by many diverse artists, ensembles and organisations including the BBC, RTE, PRSF, Music Network, Moving On Music, 2012 Olympics, Integra and the arts councils of England, Ireland and N.Ireland. Noted collaborators and performers of his work include the BBC Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, the National Orchestra of Belgium, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Crash Ensemble, Icebreaker, Riga Sinfonietta, Orkest de ereprijs, Fidelio Trio, Berlin Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble SurPlus, Lontano, Concorde, the Smith Quartet, Noszferatu, Ensemble Ars Nova, Garth Knox, Pedro Carneiro, Reinbert de Leeuw, James MacMillan, Darragh Morgan, Mary Dullea, Rolf Hind and Paul Dunmall. Ed has also enjoyed collaborations with several visual artists and choreographers including those with Juneau Projects and the award-winning Belgian choreographer Ann Van den Broek.
His work has been featured in festivals such as Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), Musica Viva (Portugal), Huddersfield, Spitalfields, Bath, City of London, Homecoming (Moscow), Crash, Sonorities, Sonic Circuits (USA), Bourges, the BMIC Cutting Edge Series, Soundings (London/Vienna), News from the UK (South Bank), Integra and at New Music/New Ireland in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 2008 Ed Bennett was the first composer in residence at the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris, France.
Recent projects include ‘Psychedelia’ a substantial work for Thomas Ades and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, ‘Out of Nowhere’ a large-scale work for piano and electronics for Xenia Pestova (PRSF Beyond Borders commission), ‘Suspect Device’ for amplified ensemble for Icebreaker (Britten-Pears commission), an opera in collaboration with the writer Stacey Gregg (commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad), ‘Internal Organs’ for mechanical organ and ensemble for the Dutch ensemble Orkest de Ereprijs (commissioned by the Orgelpark, Amsterdam), ‘Heavy Western’ for violin and ensemble for Barbara Lueneburg and Decibel and ‘Freefalling’ for the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland (commissioned by RTE). Future commissions include those for Garth Knox, the Crash Ensemble, Syzygy Saxophone Quartet, Decibel and Northern Ireland Opera.
He is represented by the Irish Contemporary Music Centre and Composers Edition Publishing where further scores and recordings of his music can be obtained. In 2012 Ed Bennett was awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize for the Performing Arts and in 2014 he was awarded a fellowship by the New York based Civitella Ranieri Foundation.