Paul Burnell (born 1960, Ystrad Rhondda, South Wales) is a composer and musician based in London. Having studied music at Dartington College of Arts, Exeter University and Royal Holloway College and playing professionally in various ensembles, he took a ten-year break from music, returning to concentrate on composition in the 1990s. He has received many commissions from festivals, Summer Schools, ensembles and professional musicians in the UK and abroad, including: the finale of the Bath International Music Festival; Inchcholm New Music Ensemble with a tour of performances in Scotland and the Czech Republic; CoMA, with performances by many of the associated ensembles and a feature of his works at the Summer School; a series of percussion pieces for Chris Brannick; a harpsichord piece performed by Jane Chapman; a piece for viol, harpsichord and recorder for the Stanesby Players; a trumpet quartet for Bella Tromba; and many other pieces for a variety of instruments, including choir, string orchestra, piano (and toy piano), recorder orchestra, contemporary chamber groups of varying combinations and spoken word pieces. Paul enjoys writing pieces and experimenting with unusual combinations and instruments and often makes use of electronics and backing tracks. Some of his techniques can be found on his recorded albums: ‘Leaving the Party on Pluto’, ‘Good to Go’, ‘Sticking with Childish Things’,‘Face Each Aged Ache’,‘Cabbage Heads’,'Accompanied Readings Vols. 1 and 2', and 'Acute Suites'. In 2016 pianist James Bacon released an album of Paul Burnell piano works: 'It May Have Been', and Paul's piece 'Four Minutes - Four Daydreams' was included in a compiliation of CoMA 'Open Score' pieces recorded by the London Sinfonietta/Gregory Rose on the NMC label. The choral piece 'A Birthday' was chosen as the winner in the Leatherhead Choral Society composition competition and was performed in July 2018. Also in July 2018 the harpist Irantzu Agirre Arrizubieta premiered 'Robot Picking Blackb'ries'. In 2019 premieres were given by Hannah Cresswell (flute) & Constance Chow (piano), Jordan Wright Murray (percussion) and the CoMA East Midlands Ensemble. In 2022 CoMA Voices premiered 'December Air' (included in the Partsongs vol.2 collection), and 'So (Not) To Speak'.
The album 'So (Not) to Speak' was released in June 2023.
Paul has also conducted various orchestras and ensembles and tutored contemporary repertoire on recorder courses and written CD reviews for the Recorder Magazine.
As a performer, Paul has been a member of the Brake Drum Assembly percussion group, CoMA London Ensemble and the Contakt composers ensemble.