ESF The First 50 Years - People stories

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A source of musical inspiration

ESF alumna: Dani Howard

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 9:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 9:03am

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Dani Howard’s career has been music to the ears of countless people around the world. A graduate of the Royal College of Music as a first-class BMus Honors Degree recipient, she served as a Rose Williams scholar with support from the Henry Wood Trust. Her composition professor was the esteemed Jonathan Cole and she was initially mentored by cellist Richard Bamping of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

Dani’s compositions have been performed across the globe, including England, Scotland, Wales, Italy, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands, Romania, Brazil and the US (New York, California, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Maryland, Nevada and North Carolina).

She also recently took First Prize in the Breaking the Fourth Wall International Composition Competition in New York, and received a commission from ClassicFM to compose for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017. She has also won impressive honours at a host of the world’s most prestigious competitions, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, 3rd Prize at the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition (Prague), and 10th International Sun River Prize (China). She was a grand finalist for the Alba Rosa Vietor Composition Competition (Netherlands), International A. Rendano Composition Competition (Italy), and the British section of the ISCM World Music Days Festival (Slovenia) among others.

Dani also maintains a deep interest in collaborating with artists from various creative genres, having worked with dancers, artists and architects on a variety of projects. She is currently working as orchestrator for the critically acclaimed Hollywood film composer Mario Grigorov. Her eclectic resume to date is a truly impressive feat, especially for someone who less than a decade ago was still a budding student at the South Island School (SIS).

Dani was also quite the student athlete back in her school days and fondly recalls - “Some of my most memorable times from SIS include being a part of the basketball, football, and rugby teams - the sense of being a part of a team was amazing for so many reasons. I really loved my teammates, the PE staff and my coaches: Ms Webster, Mr Cheung, M. Slethaug, Mr Benton, Mr O’Connor and Mr George. They taught me a lot about perseverance, and in turn, I learnt about pushing yourself to your limits, both mentally and physically.”

In addition to sports, Dani, of course, was preparing for her music career as a member of the school’s orchestra, which took part in exciting tours to Prague and Italy. Dani’s music training also included an IB film course taught by Mr Williamson who was an early mentor and inspiration to Dani’s career. She says “Mr Williamson played a huge part in where I am today. He taught us far beyond what was required, and curated the perfect course to push each student to their potential. He went above and beyond for us, and to this day some of the things that were taught in his IB Film course come into use in my professional work.”

Dani’s advice to younger students at SIS is to “try everything”. She adds that your school days are a time for exploration and the ideal chance to “get out of your comfort zone”. For the older students, she advises - “Do not be afraid of doing what you love, or whatever it is that you enjoy the most, however crazy it might sound.”

Dani’s overall educational experience at SIS was indeed positive one. She says - “I believe that South Island School has an amazing ethos, and a strong sense of giving back to our community and the world, as well as offering such a diverse range of opportunities that a student can pursue.”