Robert Hugill

Composer | Journalist | Lecturer

BIOGRAPHY

Robert Hugill is a London based composer, blogger, journalist and lecturer.

Robert runs the highly regarded classical music blog, Planet Hugill, reviews for OperaToday.com and has contributed articles to magazines Classical Music and Opera Magazine. Robert gave his course An Introduction to Opera at The Course in Mayfair in 2016, and lectures regularly to organisations such as the U3A, and he gives pre-concert talks at Conway Hall, where he also writes the programme notes.

Robert Hugill writes attractive, accessible contemporary classical music in a variety of genres, a disc of his songs Quickening: songs to texts by English and Welsh Poets was issued on the Navona Records label in 2018, and his opera The Gardeners premiered at Conway Hall on 18 June 2019, and repeated at the Garden Museum on 9 September 2019

“”

Hugill writes with a real awareness of beauty of text and of sound

Fanfare Magazine

More about Robert

Robert’s fourth opera The Gardeners with a libretto by Joanna Wyld, premiered on 18 June 2019 at Conway Hall, conducted by William Vann, and featured Georgia Mae Bishop (mezzo-soprano) as the Mother, Flora McIntosh (mezzo-soprano) as the Grandmother, Magid El-Bushra (counter-tenor) as the Angry Young Man, Peter Brathwaite (baritone) as the Old Gardener and Julian Debreuil (bass-baritone) as the Gardener.
Writing in Opera Magazine of the work’s premiere, Claire Seymour said
‘Hugill’s music has a moving serenity’.
Classical Source:
‘Quite a feat! … It lingers in the memory’.
Seen & Heard International:
‘A beautiful piece, beautifully performed’

The CD Quickening: songs to texts by English and Welsh poets features Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), Johnny Wilkinson (baritone), Rosalind Ventris (viola) and William Vann (piano) performing Robert’s settings of poetry by Rowan Williams (the former Archbishop of Canterbury), A.E. Housman, Christina Rosetti and Ivor Gurney.

Robert’s setting of the Advent Prose was premiered by Alistair Dixon and Chapelle du Roi at St John’s Smith Square in December 2014, and they premiered Robert’s setting of Ruth Padel’s Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth in 2015. London Concord Singers, conductor Jessica Norton, premiered a piece specially written for them in December 2016 as part of the choir’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Robert’s cantata The Testament of Dr. Cranmer was issued on the Divine Art label in 2008. His opera When a man knows was staged in 2011 at the Bridewell Theatre, London and his opera The Genesis of Frankenstein was premiered by the Helios Collective in London in 2016. Robert has recently completed Tempus per Annum, a cycle of 70 motets for the church’s year with over 45 hours of music, and has released all of the motets for free download on the CPDL website. Robert’s songs were placed in the English Poetry and Song Society’s A E Housman Competition, Ivor Gurney Competition and Diamond Songs Competition.

 

“”

Hugill is clearly a composer of discernment, imagination, and drive, and his score encompassed many a gem

Jill Barlow

Tempo Magazine

SCHEDULE

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

The Gardeners: 7.30pm
World premiere of a new chamber opera by Robert Hugill & Joanna Wyld

The Old Gardener – Peter Brathwaite (baritone), The Gardener – Julian Debreuil (bass-baritone), The Angry Young Man – Magid El Bushra (counter-tenor), The Mother – Georgia Mae Bishop (mezzo-soprano), The Grandmother – Flora McIntosh (mezzo-soprano)
Oliver Wass (harp), Charlotte Amherst (violin), May Dolan (viola), Sophie Hayns (cello), Anthony Friend (clarinet)
Conductor William Vann

Set in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in a war-torn country amongst the family of gardeners who look after the cemetery, The Gardeners treats the themes of tolerance, remembrance and brotherhood using the garden as a metaphor for the possibility of growth and renewal.

The graves belong to the Dead, who once invaded the land in which they lie. Tensions rise between three generations of the same family who look after war graves in a politically divided region.

https://www.thegardeners.org/

Monday 9 September 2019

The Garden Museum
Lambeth Palace Road
London SE1 7LB

The Gardeners: 7.30pm
A new chamber opera by Robert Hugill & Joanna Wyld

The Old Gardener – Peter Brathwaite (baritone), The Gardener – Julian Debreuil (bass-baritone), The Angry Young Man – Magid El Bushra (counter-tenor), The Mother – Georgia Mae Bishop (mezzo-soprano), The Grandmother – Flora McIntosh (mezzo-soprano)
Oliver Wass (harp), Charlotte Amherst (violin), Joanna Patrick (viola), Sophie Hayns (cello), Max Welford (clarinet)
Conductor William Vann

‘Hugill’s music has a moving serenity … there is a formality, of a ritual and spiritual kind, that this opera observes consistently and with considerable impact’ – Opera Magazine, September 2019

Set in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in a war-torn country amongst the family of gardeners who look after the cemetery, The Gardeners treats the themes of tolerance, remembrance and brotherhood using the garden as a metaphor for the possibility of growth and renewal.

The graves belong to the Dead, who once invaded the land in which they lie. Tensions rise between three generations of the same family who look after war graves in a politically divided region.

https://www.thegardeners.org/

Sunday 10 November 2019

Conway Hall
Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

Ticket Link

Pre-concert talk: 5.30pm

The Cinderella Effect: A History of the Piano Quartet: Intended for amateurs but in fact far too difficult, Mozart’s first piano quartet effectively created a new genre, the piano quartet, which remained in the shadow of its big brother, the piano quintet, even Schumann’s piano quartet remained far less popular than his contemporaneous quintet. 

Sunday 8 December 2019

Conway Hall
Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

Ticket Link

Pre-concert talk: 5.30pm

The Fascinating History of the Saxophone: When it was invented by Adolphe Saxe, the saxophone was only one of a number of instruments created to correct the problems inherent in the instrumentation of the orchestra. Perceived as classical in the 19th century, the instrument’s 20th century history has enabled players to cross boundaries and genres.

Media

Listen on Soundcloud

Talks, lectures & programme notes

Robert’s engaging pre-concert talks are a regular and popular feature of the Sunday Concerts series at Conway Hall where Robert also writes the highly approachable programme notes. Robert has also done similar work at St John’s Smith Square.

Recent lectures have included ‘As if sent from God, Robert & Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms’, and Robert’s ‘Introduction to Opera’ lecture series has been very popular with audiences at The Course at the University Women’s Club, Mayfair and many U3A groups, see the Schedule page for forthcoming dates.

Composing

Robert has written four operas, Garrett (based on a play by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger, premiered in 2001 at Hoxton Hall, When a Man Knows (based on a play by Alan Richardson, premiered in 2010 and staged at Hoxton Hall in 2011), The Genesis of Frankenstein (based on Mary Shelley’s novel, premiered in 2016) and The Gardeners, to a libretto by Joanna Wyld, which premiered at Conway Hall in 2019. Robert also wrote the incidental music for Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger’s play Candledancing which premiered in Pittsburgh, USA in 1998.

Robert’s choral music includes six masses, ranging from two-part choir with organ to large-scale unaccompanied masses, and many anthems and motets. His sequence of 70 motets for the Church’s year, Tempus per Annum sets the Latin Introits for Sundays and major feasts.

Robert’s larger scale choral pieces include a Passion setting for unaccompanied vocal ensemble, written for The Burgundian Cadence, and a sequence of large-scale didactic cantatas, plus a choral setting of extracts from Archbishop Cranmer’s final speech, The Testament of Dr Cranmer, which was recorded on the Divine Art label, and settings of Ruth Padel’s Learning to Make an Oudh in Nazareth. The Black Dragon, commissioned by London Concord Singers for the Millennium Year of the Dragon (2000), is being performed again by them in 2019. The piece sets Robert’s own Science-Fiction inspired text.

Robert’s song cycles includes cycles setting poems by A.E. Housman, Ivor Gurney, Christina Rosetti, Rowan Williams, Hart Crane and Rabindranath Tagore.

Recent performances:

  • July 2018 The Black Dragon (secular choral, words Robert Hugill), London Concord Singers, Jessica Norton (conductor), The Grosvenor Chapel, London; repeated at Waterford Cathedral, Ireland, August 2019
  • June 2019 The Gardeners * (opera in concert, text by Joanna Wyld), Flora McIntosh (mezzo-soprano), Georgia Mae Bishop (mezzo-soprano), Magid El Bushra (counter-tenor), Peter Brathwaite (baritone), Julian Debreuil (bass-baritone), Conductor William Vann. FifteenB Productions at Conway Hall, repeated in September 2019 at the Garden Museum
  • May 2019 Winter Journey * (song cycle, words Rowan Williams), Quickening (song cycle, words Christina Rosetti), Three pieces from the Book of Common Prayer (instrumental), Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), James Newby (baritone), William Vann (piano), Conway Hall as part of the Sunday Concerts Series
  • February 2018 Three pieces from the Book of Common Prayer * (instrumental), Rosalind Ventris (viola), James Willshire (piano) at Cheltenham Music Society
  • November 2017 He wishes…* (song cycle, words WB Yeats), Donna Lenard (soprano), Gavin Roberts (piano)
  • September 2017 ‘Evening’ from Winter Journey, ‘Song & Pain’ from Four Songs to Texts by Ivor Gurney, Johnny Herford (baritone), William Vann (piano) broadcast live by BBC Radio 3
  • December 2016 Dominus Illuminatio Mea * (motet from Tempus per Annum), London Concord Singers, Jessica Norton (conductor), St Botolph without Bishopsgate, London,
  • March 2016 Resurrexi (motet from Tempus per Annum), London Concord Singers, Jessica Norton (conductor), St Botolph without Bishopsgate

 

For commissions and availability:

Discography

QUICKENING: SONGS BY ROBERT HUGILL TO TEXTS BY ENGLISH AND WELSH POETS

William Vann (piano), Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), Rosalind Ventris (viola), Johnny Herford (baritone)

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THE TESTAMENT OF DR CRANMER

Christopher Watson (tenor), Simon Baggs (violin), Paul Ayres (organ), eight:fifteen vocal ensemble, strings of the Chameleon Arts Orchestra, Paul Brough

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ROBERT HUGILL – PASSION

The Burgundian Cadence
Zenobia

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Robert’s work also appears on the following compilations

SAPPHO, SHROPSHIRE & SUPERTRAMP – A COLLECTION OF MODERN ENGLISH ART-SONG

Sarah Leonard (mezzo-soprano), Johnny Herford (baritone), Nigel Foster (piano), Divine Art DDA 21230
Songs by Sulyen Caradon, William Carnell, David Crocker, Brian Daubney, Graham Garton, Ivor Gurney, Frank Harvey, Robert Hugill, Janet Oates, Michael Watts, Dennis Wickens, Simon Willink

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LUX MEMORIAQUE: CONTEMPORARY BRITISH CHORAL WORKS

Harmonia Sacra
Peter Leech (conductor)
Nimbus Alliance
Music by Lawrence Whitehead, Robert Hugill, Peter Leech, David Bednall, Jonathan Lee

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Contact

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