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Experts in maths and music unite for conference

4th May 2022

A Northumbria University academic will chair a prestigious conference exploring the historic relationship between mathematics and music, hosted by the Royal College of Music in London.

Dr Matteo Sommacal, a Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Northumbria, is preparing to lead the three-day event which will be the first conference on the topic of Maths in Music, organised by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) – the accrediting body for university programmes in Mathematics across the country.  

The event, which will take place at the Royal College of Music in London between Wednesday 13th July and Friday 15th July, has received sponsorship and support from the Royal Musical Association (RMA) – one of the oldest scholarly societies in the world dedicated to the study of music.

Caption: Dr Matteo SommacalDr Sommacal, who is also a composer and artistic director of the Italian contemporary classical music ensemble Piccola Accademia degli Specchi, said many elements of music lead to an immediate connection with maths. From the theory of tuning systems to physical acoustics, or the structures of rhythms to the continuous stretching of the laws of harmony and the exploration of the musical forms carried out by contemporary composers.

“This event will be the first one organised by the IMA and one of the first of its kind in Britain, so it is important that Northumbria is involved in such a prestigious conference,” he added. “The conference, whose organising committee I was invited to chair in 2020 by the IMA, is featured on the calendar of the European Mathematical Society and the International Musicological Society.”

The IMA Maths in Music conference is expected to attract mathematicians, musicologists and composers working and carrying out research in areas where the two subjects meet. The event will include four invited plenary lectures from world-renowned researchers in the field:  

  • Prof Emily Howard, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
  • Prof Guerino Mazzola, University of Minnesota
  • Prof Geraint Wiggins, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, and Queen Mary University of London
  • Prof Moreno Andreatta, Director of Research at Institut de Recherche Mathematique Avancee (IRMA), University of Strasburg and the Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music (IRCAM), Paris

The organising committee of the event includes Dr Michelle Phillips from the Royal Northern College of Music, Dr Dimitri Scarlato from the Royal College of Music and Dr Rob Sturman from Leeds University.

Maya Everson, from the IMA Conference Department, said: “Dr Sommacal has been involved with the IMA on many aspects around conferences, including as a valued member of the Conferences Committee.  This is the first time we have worked with him on organising a conference on this subject.

“He is doing a fantastic job, as always, and has a passion for both subjects.  It is a pleasure working with him.”

Full details for the conference and registration information can be found online at

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