Northfields Upper School, Bedfordshire (1976 - 81) A-Levels - Music, Art and Maths
The City of Leeds College of Music (1981 - 84)
Graduate Diploma in Jazz and Contemporary Music 1st Class with Distinction (GDJCM) Huddersfield Polytechnic (1985 - 87) Certificate in Education (Cert Ed with Distinction) The Royal Academy of Music , London (2010 )
Honorary Associate of The Royal Academy of Music (HonARAM)
The Royal Conservatoire of Birmingham (2019 ) Honorary Fellowship

MUSICAL LIFE : Award winning jazz pianist and composer, Nikki Iles was a founder member of the innovative Creative Jazz Orchestra in the North of England and has had a busy freelance career working at the forefront of British Jazz with over 35 CDs recorded over 4 decades.

She has been described as the “Heroine of British Jazz”. Her composing has caught the ear of prestigious European ensembles fromThe London Sinfonietta, Hamburg’s famous NDR Big Band and the Frankfurt HR Big Band to Helsinki’s UMO Jazz Orchestra.

Her work with the UK’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra has been performed at the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms, her partnerships with such imaginative vocalists as Norma Winstone and Tina May have repeatedly confirmed her selflessly sublime playing.

Her last small band album featured international bass virtuoso and former Miles Davis sideman Dave Holland alongside the ever creative Saxophonist, Stan Sulzmann and she is Professor of Jazz Piano at the Royal Academy of Music - a role she clearly relishes for what the students bring to her life and what she imparts to theirs.

Last December, Iles won an Ivor Novello award for what the judges called “...a moving and beautifully crafted“ lockdown composition the Caged Bird and - much to her surprise - she received a British Empire Medal in the Queens New Years Honours 2022.

Over the past 4 years however, despite the disruptions of the pandemic, Nikki has been developing her biggest venture so far in her large scale jazz orchestra writing. Her orchestral palette fitfully glimpses towards the musicians that she worked with in the heady days of the Creative Jazz Orchestra during the 90s - musicians as diverse as Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza, Mark Anthony Turnage and Kenny Wheeler.

Iles’ music, however, is always her own. It’s high-end talent that a high-end school might be assumed to have been the facilitator for - and yet in composition she is completely self taught and this is what makes her music unique.

1970-81 Junior Exhibitioner - Royal Academy of Music.
1994 Commissioned by 'The Creative Jazz Orchestra’ - “THE PRINTMAKERS SUITE" - celebrating the role of Women in Jazz (featured on Radio 3).
1996 Winner of the 'John Dankworth Special Award' - British Jazz Awards.
1996 Commission Rob Buckland and Peter Lawson - “ALMA VENUS" - for soprano sax and piano (featured on CD Towards the Light).
1998 Commissioned by the 'New Perspectives' ensemble - “NINE SWALLOWS - NO SUMMER" - for large ensemble - celebrating the work of Barbara Hepworth.
1999 Commissioned by The London Sinfonietta - “A GENTLE PRAYER" - for Jazz Orchestra - for the Ellington centenary at the Royal festival Hall.
2001 Commissioned by 'Sheffield Jazz’ - “FIRE AND ICE" - a suite for Jazz Quintet inspired by the short stories of A.S. Byatt.
2005 Commissioned by Tim Garland's Northern Underground Jazz Orchestra - “Red Ellen”.
2005-7 Commissioned by Faber Music - pieces for "Fingerprints", the new edition of Contemporary music for piano, flute, cello and saxophone.
2009-15 Commissioned by Oxford University Press - 5 Books for jazz piano: Originals, Arrangements and Contemporary Piano duets for 4 hands.
2010 Awarded Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (HonARAM) 2011 Commissioned by The National Youth Jazz Orchestra - “Hush” (Featured in the 2015 Commissioned by The National Youth Jazz Collective - “Blink“ (for their 10th anniversary).
2017 Winner in the British Jazz Awards - piano category.
2018 Commissioned by Trish Clowes - “Awakening“ for the Emulsion Festival, London. 2018 Commissioned by The National Youth Jazz Orchestra - “Wild Oak “ celebrating Pianist Geri Allen (Featured on the latest NYJO release, “She Said“ - celebrating Women writers 2022).
2019 Awarded The ‘Gold Badge’ at the IVORS for exceptional contribution too music in this country.
2019 Commissioned by EVC Music - Two books of original piano works for children. Book 1 - Alice in Wonderland, Book 2 Peter Pan (Proceeds to Great Ormond St Hospital). 2020 Winner of the ‘Best Ensemble’ in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
2020 Winner of the ‘Seattle Jazz Orchestra Composition Prize’.
2020 Winner of the Covid Commission from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers in America
2021 Commissioned by The Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music - “Nikki Iles and Friends“. Three books - from beginner to advanced - with Julian Joseph, Zoe Rahmen, Nikki Yeoh, Gwilym Simcock and co. )
2021 Winner of the best composition for Large Ensemble in the Ivor Novello Awards. 2022 Commissioned by the UMO Jazz Orchestra, Helsinki.
2022 Commissioned by Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (for Kurt Elling).
2022 Awarded British Empire Medal in Queens Honours For Services to Music in Britain
2023 Awarded post of Composer in Residence with the NDR Big Band in Hamburg.

The Royal Academy of Music, London – Piano Professor
Middlesex University, London - Senior Lecturer Jazz Program 1998-2022. (1 day )


  • The Guildhall School of Music and Drama - Piano Professor 1998-2022.
  • Bedford School and Bedford Modern – Jazz piano and ensemble coach 2013-2022.
  • York University - Ensemble in Residence - Julian Arguelles Octet 2004 - 2019.
  • Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester - Visiting Lecturer 2001-2000.
  • City of Leeds College of Music Professor Emeritus 2015 - 2017.
  • Trinity/Laban College of Music, jazz piano 2002 - 2010.
  • City of Leeds College of Music - Jazz piano and ensemble coach 1994-1998.
  • Tameside College of Technology, Oldham Lecturer 1985-1994.