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Powell began taking piano lessons at the age of four and later attended King's College School, Wimbledon by which time he was also learning the viola, violin and orchestral percussion. He was writing music by the age of eleven and went on to study composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti at Darmstadt in Germany before taking a master's degree in music King's College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge he joined an electronic music group, Intermodulation, with Roger Smalley, Tim Souster and Robin Thompson, and joined the local progressive rock group Henry Cow, formed by Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson, in which he alternated between bass and drums.
After leaving Cambridge he performed as a soloist at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London. He later worked with several orchestras, including at Covent Garden and with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Welsh Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra where he worked with Pierre Boulez. He had also begun working as a session player, as well as founding the group "Come to the Edge" with Robin Thompson and Morris Pert, which performed regularly with the Japanese percussion virtuoso Stomu Yamashta.
His career as an arranger began at this time and his first commission was the debut album for Cockney Rebel; he also arranged their next two albums and worked with other artists including Leo Sayer, John Miles ("Music"), Donovan, Cliff Richard ("Miss You Nights"), Al Stewart (Modern Times, Year of the Cat, Time Passages, Russians & Americans and Between the Wars), Ambrosia (Somewhere I've Never Traveled), David Gilmour, Chris Rea, Mick Fleetwood, The Hollies, Münchener Freiheit, and others.
He is credited as a member of The Alan Parsons Project on their first album (Tales of Mystery and Imagination) in the role of arranger, conductor and composer, and continued to work as arranger and conductor on all but one of their albums, and with Alan Parsons when the group broke up. He has performed live with both Parsons and Stewart. He also made an orchestral album from The Alan Parsons Project's songs: The Philharmonia Orchestra Plays The Best of The Alan Parsons Project in 1983.
He has conducted orchestras and ensembles all over the world, including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony, the Wellington Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra and the München Kammeroper – as well as the Black Dyke Mills Band and Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
More recent work has included arranging and conducting Wouter Van Belle's work 'Wow & Flutter' as well as writing for brass bands including the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Parc & Dare Band and Burry Port Town Band; and the perhaps less accessible album "Stockhausen: Michael's Farewell, etc" with John Wallace.
Living Stones received its world premier at St Davids Cathedral, Wales, on 27 October 2007, and Glasiad y dydd dros Ben Dinas at the City of London Festival on 19 March 2008.
Powell is artistic director of BluestoneArts, a social enterprise company that promotes music, words and visual arts in north Pembrokeshire.
- Giuliano Tomassacci (4 August 2006). "The Wolf, the Hawk and the Avant-Garde Musician: Interview with Andrew Powell". Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- Georgia Ruth Williams, 25/09/2014, gyda Andrew Powell at BBC Programmes