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John Hardy is a composer whose music is performed and broadcast across Wales, the UK and worldwide. His work includes substantial opera, choral and instrumental music commissioned by organisations including Welsh National Opera, DV8, BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, Music Theatre Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Test Dept, and Westminster Abbey.

John’s work is characterised by a directness of communication, a focus on totality of experience, and a valuing and nurturing of creativity in others.

His concert music is often connected to particular people or experiences, with orchestral suite Blue Letters from Tanganyika inspired by the adventures of his mother during her time as a teacher travelling across East Africa, whilst choral cycle Spaces – Beyond the End of the World explores the idea of a great journey to an unreachable place. His music has been described as 'utterly engrossing' (The Guardian), 'witty' (The Independent), 'gripping and intensely theatrical' (Opera Now) and 'energetic, instinctive' (The Times).

John is a collaborator, working with artists and communities to create work including opera and theatre. Through these there is a focus on creating a total experience, marked for example in his collaboration with Mike Pearson on theatre production The Persians, ‘what is impressive… is the totality of the experience’ (The Guardian). John’s operas communicate directly and powerfully, with works such as Flowers described as ‘gripping and intensely theatrical’ (Opera Now) with ‘a dramatic style both accessible and challenging… unique and surprising piece of music-theatre’ (The Guardian).

Working through his company John Hardy Music, which holds five BAFTA Cymru awards plus four further nominations for Best Original Soundtrack Music, John has over 35 years experience writing and producing music for film, brands, television, theatre, radio, dance and through other forms of collaboration. He has written original music for over 350 productions, including acclaimed Welsh crime drama series Hinterland / Y Gwyll, seen worldwide through the BBC and Netflix.

From primary school projects like The Lost Island for Tŷ Cerdd, through community and outreach projects such as Sounds and Stories for St. David’s Hall, to his post since 2010 as Head of Composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), John’s approach in education work has been to help students to develop their creativity in a way that is meaningful to them. His valuing of this creativity in others has led to collaborative and professional work with his students and graduates, and large-scale community projects such as Black February / Mis Bach Du, for Welsh National Opera.

John was born in Exmouth and has lived in Wales since 1980. He composes at his studio in Chapter Arts Centre, at home in Cardiff, and at RWCMD.


Opera & Oratorio


Opera: Soprano, tenor, bass-baritone soloists, 3 winds, violin/viola, cello, double bass, percussion

1994 | 75 mins | More about this


Oratorio: trumpet, bagpipes, percussion, keyboards and tape

1988 | 70 mins | More about this

Haearn (Iron)

Oratorio: Soprano, choir, percussion, brass band and tape

1992 | 75 mins | More about this

Mis Du Bach / Black February

Opera: Treble, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass-baritone soloists, SATB Chorus and ensemble

1997 | 90 mins | More about this


Oratorio: soprano, mezzo, baritone singers, narrator, drums, percussion, strings, keyboards and trumpet

1990 | 80 mins | More about this

The Roswell Incident

Opera: Child, soprano, tenor and bass-baritone soloists, piano, 4 strings, 4 toms and pre-recorded sounds

1997 | 94 mins | More about this


A.C.T.I.O.N. - sing Wales 2000

For orchestra: - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - 4 perc - voice - hp - str

2000 | 11 mins | More about this

Blue Letters from Tanganyika

For orchestra:
3(III+picc).3(III+ca).3(II+Ebcl.III+bcl) - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - timp.3perc - hp - strings

1997 | 18 mins | More about this

Dragon's Song

For orchestra:
1.4 rec.2.2.2 - - 1perc - hpd - pno - str

1974 | 11 mins

Ellen MacArthur: In the Eye of the Storm

For orchestra:
2(I+pic).2(II+ca) - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - timp.2perc(II+mar) - hp - str

2003 | 22 mins | More about this


For orchestra: - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - 4perc(III timp, IV+mar) - hp - str

2000 | 10 mins | More about this

Fighting the Clock

For orchestra: - 4.3.2.btn.1 - 3perc - hp - str with children's voices and percussion

2000 | 6 mins | More about this

Gloria Tibi Trinitas

For orchestra:
3(I+picc, II+picc, III+al).3(II+ca, III+ca).3(I+Eb, III+bcl) - 3.Eb(+C, +picc).2(I+Eb, II+Eb).2(I+alt).btn.2 - timp.perc - 3 hp - pno - org - - str

1979 | 38 mins | More about this

Hedd Wyn Suite

For orchestra: - - timp.perc - 2hp - str

1996 | 29 mins | More about this

Night Flight

For orchestra

2012 | 12 mins | More about this

Symphony for Candlemas-eve

For orchestra: - 4.2.Ebtpt.3.1 - perc - str

1979 | 36 mins

Tyger Stew

For orchestra: - - timp.perc - str

1975 | 12 mins


Beirdd Cymru (Bards of Wales)

For trumpet, SATB choir, narrator and harp

2003 | 32 mins | More about this

Canticles & Antiphon

For mixed voices and organ


Dark Forces

For treble, SATB choir and organ


De Profundis

For SSAATTBB choir, brass, percussion, harp, piano and organ

1998 | 15 mins | More about this

Hail Mary Ich Am Sary, Of The Love Of God, O Saviour Of The World, Nunc Dimittis

For tenors, basses, flute, cor anglais, viola and harp



For SATB choir

2001 | flexible duration | More about this

La-La Land

For SATB choir and optional piano

2005 | 5 mins

Not Darkness but Twilight

For choir, percussion, harp and organ, or choir, percussion and pianos:
SATB choir - timp.vib.tbells -
OR SATB choir - vib - 2pno

2004 | 19 mins | More about this

O Child, Must it be Forever?

For Soprano, alto and violin



For 4 tenors, 4 basses, soli SATB, solo sop/treb and organ


Spaces-Beyond the End of the World

Song cycle, for different combinations of SATB choir, 2 percussion, harp, piano and organ

2006 | 60 mins | More about this

Tuesday Sequence

For voice and organ



For choir, brass, percussion and organ: - 4.4.2.btbn.1 - timp.3perc - SATB - org

2013 | 8 mins | More about this


For tenor and bass voices (3 or more for each part)


When we let spirit lead us

For SATB choir and optional piano

2005 | 4 mins


4 Nocturnes

For oboe

1977 | 15 mins

4 Preludes for Solo Flute

For flute

1977 | 15 mins

7 Tenebrae

For flute

1976 | 21 mins

Ars Malleo Caedendi

For percussion ensemble

1996 | 23 mins

Bagatelle for Flute, Clarinet & Strings

Flute, clarinet, violin, viola and two cellos

1991 | 3 mins

Bagatelle for Instrument and Keyboard

Open score for melody instrument (eg violin or clarinet) and keyboard

1991 | 3 mins


For saxophones, brass, percussion, marimba, piano and strings

1994 | 6 mins

By a Stream in the Rain

For flute

1973 | 6 mins

Castell Arianrhod

For 3 violins and accompaniment

2005 | 6 mins

Corpus Christi Carol

For cor anglais

1977 | 3 mins


For cello

1976 | 5 mins

Etude 2

For cello

1978 | 10 mins

Etude 3

For solo cello

1993 | 10 mins


For 4 violins or 2 violins, viola, cello and bass

1997/2003 | 4 mins | More about this

My Hat

For flute

1977 | 1 min


For 3 violins and piano, OR voice and piano

2005 | 6 mins

Piano Trio

Violin, cello and piano


Salve Regina

For violin, clarinet, oboe and piano

1979 | 10 mins

Snorri's Pool

For double bass and piano

2005 | 11 mins | More about this

Waves, Turnings or Circlings

For large ensemble (14 players): - hn.tbn - glock.celeste - pno -

1980 | 10 mins

Where Are You Going To?

For flute, oboe, viola, trumpet and tuba

1975 | 1 min

Wind Quintet 1

For flute, oboe/cor anglais, clarinet horn and bassoon

1994 | 13 mins

Wind Quintet 2 - Wild Wales

For flute, oboe or cor anglais, clarinet, horn and bassoon

1998 | 8 mins | More about this


4 Goethe Songs: Kennst du das Land?

For soprano and piano

1998 | 18 mins | More about this

Einion Ac Angharad

For female voice and harp

1984 | 2 mins

Fflamau Oer: Songs for Jeremy

For bass-baritone and piano

1999 | 13 mins | More about this

Go Heart

For alto and piano

1977 | 2 mins

Holy Island

For soprano with viola, 2 clarinets and bassoon

1980 | 4 mins

Miserere; L'occhio Divin

For high baritone or soprano and piano

2003 | 5 mins

My Purse

For low voice and piano

1974 | 4 mins

Myfyrdod (Meditation)

For soprano, harp, percussion (bass drum, tam-tam, crotales, tubular bells, marimba), violin, viola, cello, bass (5 string)

1994 | 7 mins

...on the way to heaven

For soprano and piano

1998 | 4 mins | More about this


For mezzo-soprano or bass-baritone and piano

1974 | 5 mins

Os daw fy nghariad I yma heno

For 2 high voices and piano

1994 | 7 mins

The Maidens

For high voice and piano

1973 | 6 mins

The Rose

For soprano and piano

1973 | 6 mins

The Waltz is Over

For sprano, flute, cello and piano

1998 | 20 mins | More about this

Truan yw gehnyf fi

For low voice and harp

1988 | 4 mins

Tyner yw'r lleuad heno (Y Bardd Trwm)

For voice and harp

1992 | 2 mins

Worship [v1]

For voice and piano

1975 | 7 mins



Available on Ffin Records


Flowers is a strong piece that seems to do what it sets out to… with terrific conviction, with a flair for tortuous sonic imagery, and with no hint that the composer is not in complete control of his materials.”
Stephen Walsh, The Independent  

Blue Letters from Tanganyika
 “The rhythmically charged, open and immediately engaging music is bright and colourful… managing to evoke the African landscape.”
Pwyll Ap Siôn, Gramophone magazine

Blue Letters from Tanganyika
**** "four colourful, finely crafted movements that will appeal to a wide age range" 
Phil Sommerick, Classical Music Magazine

De Profundis
“Stirring brass and chorus writing.”
Stephen Johnson, The Independent

De Profundis
“John Hardy’s powerful De profundis, a setting of scripture and martyr’s writings.”
Rick Jones, Evening Standard

“A very varied, wide emotional spectrum expressed”
Stuttgarter Zeitung (translation)

“Hardy’s 90-minute opera is gripping and intensely theatrical. He has a feeling for the dramatic ebb and flow of opera which can’t be taught but clearly benefits from his theatre and film experience… blackly humorous and ironic by turns… Hardy draws a wealth of colour…[an] important endorsement of Welsh opera.”
Peter Reynolds, Opera Now 

“John Hardy, an exciting composer… developed a dramatic style both accessible and challenging. 
An utterly engrossing piece… all quite mesmeric… a sharply defined, unique and surprising piece of music-theatre that should attract anyone who enjoys the unexpected.”

David Adams, Guardian     

“The opera is driven from climax to climax by Hardy’s violent but irresistible score, rich in detail and full of diverse ideas… it creates a fierce concentration… tensions are built expertly… a message for our times, strongly delivered.”
Kenneth Loveland, Musical Opinion

“Hardy delivers his protest with conviction and with violence, and we are won to his side. The score… is rich and evocative… generous in detail.”
Kenneth Loveland, Opera  

“John Hardy’s new 90-minute chamber opera for Music Theatre Wales has a lot going for it.
Hardy’s energetic, instinctive music, resourcefully scored… is very much to the point, communicating with commendable flexibility the whole gamut of human emotions.”

Stephen Pettitt, The Times  
“Another musical hit… John Hardy’s new work Flowers is music theatre on the edge, provocative, disturbing and extremely enjoyable… a focused and highly charged piece… emotionally searing, challenging but accessible.”
Mike Smith, Western Mail  

“Pride of place went to the premiere of a [Red Violin] Festival commission, Fol de Riddles, a fanfare for four violins by Wales-based composer John Hardy… [in] this brief, striking work… the opening section set the first violinist against the others in dramatic, declamatory fashion; the second section, fast and exciting, involved all four in a riveting ensemble.”
Robin Stowell, The Strad


Night Flight
***** "Hardy explored the changing textural dynamics of the ensemble, whilst cleverly showcasing the individual skill of its members: a rare treat compared to more traditional orchestral repertoire... a fantastic concept that proved to be the highlight of the evening."
Jessica Ruth Morris, Western Mail

Not Darkness But Twilight
“A fluent… intense outpouring… rich waves of sound.”
Rian Evans, The Guardian 

“John Hardy’s epic and hypnotic music.”
Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph  

“A haunting score by John Hardy.”
Michael Billington, The Guardian  

“Tumultuous music – great blocks of sound.”
Nicholas De Jongh, Evening Standard  

“A quite astonishing… production… it’s the sound which is so pervasive.”
Pat Ashworth, The Guardian  

“Pax is a breath-taking spectacle… a magnificent and chilling oratorio… every element of the piece was terrifying and magical, on an almost biblical scale.”
Joyce Mcmillan, The Guardian  

“A unique, memorable performance… great swirling banks of sound… you knew it was something special from the beginning.”
David Adams, The Guardian  

“Community opera projects… at their best – and this is one of the best I have ever seen - …can pull together entire communities in a creative process that both enriches and celebrates the innate skills and talents of the community involved.” - MIS BACH DU / BLACK FEBRUARY
Michael Parkin, Western Mail