Composer

Hugh’s goal as a composer is to create a collaborative musical context that questions the traditional agency of the composer. He is also interested in cross-disciplinary works, and incorporating movement, improvisation, poetry and visual art into his work.

A skilled arranger and orchestrator, Hugh has seen his work performed in venues from Band on the Wall to the Royal Festival Hall. He studied Composition at University of Manchester with Nina Whiteman and Kevin Malone.

Hugh has collaborated on projects with London Sinfonietta, Red Note Ensemble, Opera Harmony, Devon Philharmonic Orchestra & CoMA, Ludlow English Song Festival, Somnium Chamber Choir, Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera, the Vonnegut Collective and Animikii Theatre, No Dice Collective & International Anthony Burgess Foundation, the Eskandari Quartet and Sonmium Chamber Choir.

Selected Projects

2020

Harold and Keith: A Newcastle United Opera

This opera forms part of the OperaHarmony series organised by director Ella Marchment, which sees over 100 opera makers from around the world come together to create micro-operas recorded during lockdown. Harold and Keith is a short libretto by Jamie Eastlake that imagines two seventy-three-year-old Newcastle United fans discussing the club’s potential takeover on Zoom. The opera’s first performance is on 11th August 2020.

Rally Round the West Indies – arrangement for BBC Choir and Orchestra

Masterminded by cellist and producer Jon Gibson, this project saw a group of musicians and cricket fans come together to record the two cricket anthems, ‘Rally Round the West Indies’ and ‘Jerusalem’  ahead of the Second Test between England and the West Indies at Old Trafford. It features a number of local musicians and some members of the Test Match Special team! As well as singing in the video, I also helped with the orchestration of ‘Rally Round’ which you can find on the ECB and BBC Sport websites.

When one falls in love – for Tenor and Piano

I was asked by tenor Zahid Siddiqui to write music for his first year Masters recital at Royal College of Music, London. I chose to write three short melodramas that complemented Zahid’s programmatic arc, that follows a figure falling in and out of love. The piece premieres in August 2020.

Étude – for solo Cello

This short work for solo Cello was written as part of Red Note Ensemble‘s Digital Noisy Nights programme, and was premiered by Duncan Strachan. The piece is in arch form, constructing and deconstructing the Bartok pizz.

ms/2 – an open score for improvisers

Originally written for double bass, ms/2 was given its premiere by Cliodna Shanahan from London Sinfonietta as part of their #LockdownLive Postcard Pieces concert on 1st May 2020. The score combines improvisation and visual art to create an open score that augments a classic seaside scene.

Face Off – an open score for six lines (originally fl.cl.ob.bsn.tpt.tbn.)

This piece was the result of an ‘Emerging Composer’ commission from Devon Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. It was performed as part of CoMA’s nationwide festivities in March 2020. Face Off responds to a carved stone capital housed in the museum.

Water Spirit – for Mezzo Soprano and Piano

In 2020, I was selected for the Ludlow English Song Weekend’s Young Composer Platform. For it, I chose to set Clare Best’s wonderful poem, Water Spirit. Unfortunately, the piece’s premiere by the Festival’s Young Artists programme (students from Royal College of Music) was postponed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Canvas – for Baritone voice and piano

Canvas is a setting of a poem of the same name by Manchester-based poet Jo Howard. It was part of a collaborative process organised by RNCM student Billy Kyle, as part of his final year Creative Project, and was premiered at International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

2019

Good King Agatha – a Chamber Opera (sop.ms.bar; satb chorus; fl.tpt.vln.vc; bsn.acc.)

GKA is a chamber opera for mixed ensemble written in collaboration with Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera, Vonnegut Collective and Animikii Theatre. The first performance was at Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester in September 2019.

‘Y’alright, pet?’ – for Narrator and String Trio

This piece was a joint commission between International Anthony Burgess Foundation and No Dice Collective, for their joint concert, ‘The Things He Left Behind’. It is a response to a photograph of Anthony Burgess with his wife and their pet dog on a walk. The piece uses exaggerated bowing and performative techniques to create a visual drama that complements the drama of writer Georgia Affonso‘s short story.

2018

Reflections on ‘Manchester’ – for Tuba and Brass Band

Written for soloist Adam Collins and the University of Manchester Brass Band, the piece is a reimagining of the hymn tune ‘Manchester’ (Wainwright).