Elizabeth Kelly is an American-British composer based in Nottingham, UK where she is Head of the Music Department and Associate Professor in Music Composition at the University of Nottingham. Her music embraces diverse influences, running the gamut from 'majestic Wagnerian lines aggressively punctuated' (Boston Musical Intelligencer) to 'rasping jazzy exploration' (The Guardian). Her compositions have been performed throughout North America and Europe at venues including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in the UK and the Gaudeamus Festival in the Netherlands. Her music has been commissioned and performed by diverse international ensembles including the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Albany Symphony Dogs of Desire, the ASKO Schoenberg Ensemble (Netherlands), Alarm Will Sound (US), the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Curious Chamber Players (Sweden), Icebreaker (UK), the Janacek Philharmonic (Czech Republic), the Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10/10 (UK), Streetwise Opera (UK), and the New York and Netherlands NJO Youth Symphonies. She is particularly interested in amplifying under-represented voices (historical and contemporary) and interdisciplinary research to enable novel audience engagement.
Kelly’s work has been supported by numerous grants and awards, including an Opera America/Virginia Toulmin Foundation 'Discovery' grant for female composers, a UK Performing Rights Society (PRS) ‘Women Make Music’ award, and numerous awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), in addition to residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo. Her work has been published by Donemus (Netherlands) and released by NMC Recordings (UK). She has won support from UKRI, the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust for her practice-based research.
In 2016, Kelly co-founded the Nottingham Forum for Artistic Research (NottFAR), a centre for impactful practice-based research and knowledge exchange. Through NottFAR,she has co-curated and organised over seventy new music events, reaching thousands of audience members of all ages in the East Midlands (many of whom had never previously attended a new music event) and ~50,000 online. Since 2018, she has also overseen the development of a number of initiatives to engage children in underserved areas with music composition. To date, these efforts have reached ~3000 children across the UK in-person and online through the pandemic (in partnership with the Nottingham Music Service, Leicestershire Music, and the Villiers Quartet with support from Arts Council England), and coastal Georgia in the United States (in partnership with the Coastal Symphony of Georgia). To support the development of the next generation of composers, she has secured three AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD studentships in collaboration with community partners, including the Nottingham Music Service, and the learning and participation departments at the Nottingham Playhouse and Nottingham Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall.
Dr. Kelly earned a Ph.D. in Music Composition from Eastman School of Music with support from a prestigious Jacob Javits Fellowship from the United States Department of Education and a University of Rochester Robert Sproull Fellowship, awarded to the top incoming doctoral students at the university. She also holds degrees in music from the Yale (summa cum laude), the University of Michigan (graduate full-tuition merit scholarship recipient), and The Hague Royal Conservatory. She won a grant from the Frank Beebe Fund to support her studies in the Netherlands