Anna Appleby (born in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1993) is a Manchester-based composer. Her music often wrestles with socio-political and spiritual themes. She has written numerous orchestral, operatic, chamber, choral, vocal, electronic and dance works for a wide variety of professional and community ensembles. She has a particular interest in writing for the stage, and has drawn inspiration from choreographers in the way she works, building her pieces on the strengths and personalities of each ensemble she writes for. Collaboration is at the heart of her creative practice, and she is always keen to meet artists and ensembles who enjoy open conversation and practical research. Recent premieres include a new opera, Drought, with the BBC Philharmonic.


Anna was a composer-in-residence at Glyndebourne as part of Balancing the Score (2019-22)She has been the Music Fellow with Rambert Dance Company (2016/17), composer-in-residence with Merchant Sinfonia as part of 'Adopt A Composer' (2017/18), and a member of the 'Composers' Hub' with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (2017/18). 


Anna often works with the arts in a community setting. She was Manchester composer in residence with Streetwise Opera (2016/17), for whom she has composed again since, and her work with them featured in US documentary 'Turning Point' in Autumn 2017. She was the artist in residence with Quay Voices (2016/17), with whom she worked collaboratively to create a two-movement piece involving lyrics written by the choir.


Anna was a musician in residence at the Museum of Science and Industry's 'Wonder Materials' exhibition with Brighter Sound Artistic Directors' Series (2016), where she worked with a group of musicians and artists to curate a performance in response to graphene research, with guidance from Anna Meredith. She was a composer in residence with choreographers and dancers at the Cohan Collective (2016), a two-week intensive research period at Middlesex University involving exploration of different musical, choreographic and collaborative practices, which culminated in a further week of research and performance the following year.


The opera that Anna composed in collaboration with 3 other composers at Glyndebourne for GYO and Psappha won 'Best Opera' at the international YAM Awards in 2022.


Anna is a recipient of the GDST Trailblazer Award (2018, awarded for her career as a composer so far), the Alan Rawsthorne Prize (2016, awarded by the RNCM on graduation), the Rosamond Prize (2015, awarded for her collaboration with poet Merrie Williams), and was a finalist in the RNCM Gold Medal competition (2015). She received 2nd Prize at the Royal Northern Sinfonia's 'Mozarts of Tomorrow' competition in January 2016, when they premiered her piece Federalizing Zoo at the Sage Gateshead.


Anna has recently submitted a PhD in Composition with supervisors Emily Howard and Michael Symmons-Roberts. Anna studied for a Masters in Composition with David Horne, Adam Gorb, and Paul Patterson at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, between 2014 and 2016. Between 2011 and 2014 she studied with Martyn Harry at St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she received a First-Class Bachelor of Arts degree in Music.

Collaborations and Commissions

Anna's work has been funded by the PRS Foundation and the Arts Council 'Grants for the Arts'. In 2016/17 she wrote, composed and produced a chamber opera-ballet, Citizens of Nowhere in collaboration with choreographer Dane Hurst and RNCM musicians. It received a music-only premiere in Manchester in November 2016, was performed in excerpts at the Cohan Collective and at Ignition Dance Festival in June 2017, and was premiered in full at RADA Studios as part of Tête à Tête opera festival in August 2017.


While Music Fellow with Rambert, Anna worked with choreographers Carolyn Bolton and Julie Cunningham to create pieces for the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre River Stage. Both were new explorations for her in the field of electronic music, and received outdoor premieres where the soundscape of the South Bank formed a part of the piece.


She has written for artists including Ensemble Klang, The BBC Philharmonic, Psappha, Manchester Camerata, the CBSO, the Piatti Quartet, Jonathan Powell, The Hermes Experiment, The Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Sunday Boys, and for professional workshops with The Royal Scottish National OrchestraThe BBC Singers, and Het Balletorkest (the orchestra of Dutch National Ballet).


As a pianist, Anna frequently accompanies singers in rehearsals and was rehearsal director for her chamber opera in 2016/17 and her opera Drought in 2022. 


Anna has an alter-ego called Norrisette which is the moniker under which she writes, records, performs and produces electronic dance music and contemporary songs.


Norrisette was born in 2020 and has since performed a solo set on the Nebula stage at Bluedot Festival and numerous headline shows in Manchester, as well as supporting Anna Meredith with the RNCM Festival Orchestra at Manchester International Festival, being featured on BBC 6 Music, and starting a regular music night in collaboration with Industries called FLUFF which is a platform for queer electronic artists. FLUFF was featured in the Guardian for its role in the underground music scene in Manchester.

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Website © Anna Appleby 2023. Images © Merchant Sinfonia and Alex Gascoine by Ian Watson, choreographer Carolyn Bolton by Roberto Cinconze, Citizens of Nowhere (with choreographer Dane Hurst and dancers Liam Giacuzzo, Alice Laidler, Eleanor Stevenson and Zunnur Sazali) by Pari Naderi and Claire Shovelton, Anna Appleby by Mike Plunkett, Lore Lixenberg and Gweneth Ann Rand by Claire Shovelton and designer Sarah Booth, The Sunday Boys by Guðbjörg Ágústsdóttir, conductor Tom Goff by Anna Appleby, Citizens of Nowhere (with Ann Wilkes, Emma Wheeler and Helen Lacey) by Claire Shovelton.