David Ibbett is a British composer based in Boston, USA. He has found inspiration in many places – songs, symphonies, pop, classical and the electronic – and bringing these strands together is his ultimate aim. The son of a scientist, he co-directs the Music of Reality performance series with pianist Sophia Subbayya Vastek.

In 2004, David won a scholarship to attend Clare College Cambridge, studying with Giles Swayne and Robin Holloway, going on to undertake his Masters and a Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Julian Anderson. In 2015, he completed his doctorate at the University of Birmingham (UK) with Jonty Harrison and Scott Wilson. In 2014 he moved to Boston, USA, where he lives with his wife Sarah and son Lawrence. 

David composes works for instruments and ensemble, often featuring live electronics. Projects span from chamber music (Albion Trails, 2009, BBC Symphony Octet) to inter-arts collaborations (Project 51, contemporary dance score for The Place Resolutions, 2012) and works for instruments and electronics (Beauty from Nothing EP, 2016). In all projects, he seeks a deep collaboration with musicians, scientists, artists and performers. 

For chamber groups, David's compositions include Branches (2015) for the Transient Canvas ensemble, and Without Words for Living Room in London (2010, LSO St Luke’s, toured around Europe, recorded for their debut album):

“[Without Words], really appealed to us and we have taken it into our repertoire. It is the only commission on our CD and we love it. It has really pushed us technically, and opened doors to new ideas and compositions.” – Living Room in London Ensemble

His music increasingly reflects a passion for working with electronics. This fascination began in 2008, when he undertook a residency at the Aldeburgh Music Festival, studying with Jonathan Harvey, composing Cellosamper (2008) for Olly Coates. The work was later selected for performance at the Faster Than Sound Festival at Bentwaters Airbase.

David’s doctoral research focuses on and amplification techniques as an integrating force in electroacoustic compositions. These techniques are put to use in pieces for soloist or small ensemble and electronics, where amplified instruments must blend with fixed media and live processing. A frequent collaborator is cellist Gregor Riddell, the pair working together on Impulse Imagined (2010, premiered at Kings Place, London with visiting composer Todd Machover):

“The textures and timbres provided by the DSP contributed meaningfully to the compositions’ narrative arc and lent extra emotional tension and complexity to the pieces.” – Chamber Music Today

and Islandsconcerto for cello and electronics (2014, premiered at Birmingham’s Elgar Concert Hall with BEAST - the Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre - US premiere at the Electronic Music Midwest Festival with Craig Hultgren).

In 2015, David co-founded Music of Reality with pianist Sophia Subbayya Vastek, a performance series that combines music and science in live performance. The series has collaborated with physicists (Dr. Mathew Kleban, NYU) , biologists (Dr. Paul Garrity, Brandeis), engineers (Dr. Irmgard Bischofberger, MIT), sociologists (Dr. Clara Han, Johns Hopkins) and oceanographers (Paola Rizzoli, MIT). For these concerts, David has composed a series of works for piano and electronics, including the Beauty from Nothing EP, (2016), Phenomena of Growth (2017) and Floods and Tears (2018).

David's collaborations frequently take him outside of the realms of concert music. He has composed scores for many plays including Finding the SunThe IliadThe Wasteland and Macbeth at the Cambridge ADC. David has several long running partnerships with contemporary dance choreographers, notably Jacob Hobbs and Letizia Mazzeo. This has led to his works being performed at The Place Resolutions! (Dahlia – 2011, Project 51 – 2012, 27 Dragonflies - 2013), the Laban Dance Theatre (Miksang – 2011}, and the Circuit Soup Screen Dance Festival [Highwalking – 2010].  He has worked with filmmakers (In the Garden – 2009, Insomnia – 2010), architects (The King and the Minotaur installation – 2011), and live-game designers (Baba Yaga installation – 2011).

David is a passionate teacher of music, and teaches composition and piano at the Yamaha School of Boston, and privately at his studio Ibbett Music in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Prospective students can visit the Lessons page for more information.


David’s music has been performed at:

Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Barbican Total Immersion, Noisegate Festival, Yamaha Artists Salon, Killian Hall MIT, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Coventry University recital series, Nonclassical, Banff Centre Encounters series, Voiceworks at Wigmore Hall, SEAMUS, BEASTiary concert series, iFimPaC (Leeds College of Music), Bristol Victoria Rooms, London Institute of Contemporary Art concert series, Spitalfields Festival, Hendon Festival, Logos Foundation, Boston’s The Record Company, NYCEMF Festival, EMM Festival, International Horn Society Conference, Klangspuren Festival Austria, Red Sonic Festival, Vortex Jazz Club recital series, The Village Underground concert series, Original Gravity Concert series, Music of Reality, Seven Bridges Project, Leeds University Music Festival, City of London Festival, Bath Festival, Mapmaking at LSO St Luke's, Faster Than Sound concert series