Robert Hugill

Composer | Journalist | Lecturer


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

Robert runs the highly regarded classical music blog, Planet Hugill, reviews for 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 premieres at Conway Hall in June 2019.


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

Fanfare Magazine

More about Robert

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.

Robert’s fourth opera The Gardeners with a libretto by Joanna Wyld, premieres on 18 June 2019 at Conway Hall, conducted by William Vann.


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

Jill Barlow

Tempo Magazine


Saturday 13 April 2019

St Pancras Church
Euston Road, London NW1 2BAL

Songs of Devotion: 7.30pm
London Concord Singers, East London Chorus
Jessica Norton (conductor)

Alfred Schnittke: Choir concerto
Music by Arvo Part, Rachmaninov and Bruckner

Sunday 14 April 2019

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

Pre-concert talk: 5.30pm
An introduction to the piano duet – Mozart, Schubert, Ravel & more

Sunday 5 May 2019

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

Robert Hugill in Focus
Pre-concert talk at 5.30pm

Concert at 6.30pm:
Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), Rosalind Ventris (viola), James Newby (baritone). William Vann (piano)
Robert Hugill – Quickening
Robert Hugill – Winter Journey
Robert Hugill – Three pieces from the Book of Common Prayer
Music by Frank Bridge, George Butterworth, York Bowen

Post-concert Q&A with the Artists

Tuesday 7 May 2019

U3A in London
Old Town Hall
213 Haverstock Hill
London NW3 4QP

Introduction to Opera: 12:40pm
Fortnightly five-lecture series – Verdi, Wagner and After. Opera in late 19th and early 20th century and the composers who struggled to find a new language – Verismo, Puccini, Richard Strauss and Debussy.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square
London WC1 4RL

Pre-concert talk: 5.30pm
Beyond Boccherini – an introduction to music for guitar and strings

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.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Grosvenor Chapel
24 South Audley Street
London W1K 2PA

Telling Stories: 7.30pm
London Concord Singers, conductor Jessica Norton

Robert Hugill – The Black Dragon
Bob Chilcott – Aesop’s Fables
Jessican Norton – The Dagda’s Harp (world premiere)
Music by Elizabeth Maconchy, Clara Schumann, Benjamin Britten, Richard Strauss

Wednesday 24 July 2019

St Bride’s Foundation
4 Bride Lane
London EC4Y 8EQ

Lecture: 2.15pm
U3A London Region Summer School
From accompanied sonata to three independent parts – a short history of the piano trio

Wednesday 21 August 2019

U3A in London
Old Town Hall
213 Haverstock Hill
London NW3 4QP

Lecture: 10:30am

Thursday 5 September 2019

Barnet U3A

Lecture: 10:30am
Mozart and the creation of modern opera

Wednesday 11 September 2019

U3A in London
Old Town Hall
213 Haverstock Hill
London NW3 4QP

Lecture: 10:30am


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.


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 premieres 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.

For commissions and availability:



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



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



The Burgundian Cadence


Robert’s work also appears on the following compilations


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



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



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