Hedd Wyn Suite

Orchestra: 2.alto.2.ca.2.bcl.2.cbn - - timp.perc - 2hp - str
29 minutes
Suite from the soundtrack to the Oscar-nominated, BAFTA-winning film.


Hedd Wyn is an oscar-nominated epic biopic on the life of a promising poet.

Synopsis: A young poet living in the North Wales countryside competes for the most coveted prize of all in Welsh Poetry - that of the chair of the National Eisteddfod, a tradition dating back a hundred years. Before the winner is announced Hedd Wyn gets sent to fight with the English in the trenches of the First World War. 
(Gavin Adams, IMDb)

Directed by Paul Turner, Hedd Wyn was the first Welsh-language film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1994. The film won seven awards including the Royal Television Society Television Award for Best Single Drama in 1993 and BAFTA Cymru awards in 1994 for Best Original Music, Best Drama in Welsh, Best Editor, Best Screenwriter in Welsh, Best Design and Best Director, with a further nomination for Best Make-Up.

The film has been exhibited in cinemas through the UK, Europe and the USA and has been broadcast on Channel 4 and S4C in the UK.

The soundtrack for Hedd Wyn is scored for full orchestra, with the addition of an operatic mezzo soprano voice (Penelope Walker) in a battle scene, and a young child’s voice during the end credits.

“John Hardy’s symphonic score… reinforces the mystical atmosphere.”
Derek Elley, Variety, 5 October 1992

DVD available at Sain.

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Fighting the Clock

Orchestra: picc.2.2.ca.sop.1.bcl.2.cbn - 4.3.2.btn.1 - 3perc - hp - str with children's voices and percussion
6 minutes
Composed with Luke Carver Goss. Commissioned by BBC National Orchestra of Wales for BBC Radio 3. First fully performed 2000 at St. David's Hall, Cardiff by BBC National Orchestra of Wales and school children, conducted by John Hardy and Luke Carver Goss.

Commissioned and broadcast by BBC Radio 3 as part of the ambitious TIME project for performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and fifty children, Fighting the Clock was composed with the active input of Luke Carver Goss and children from 2 schools in Beddau, a former coal village.

The piece has been performed at St. David's Hall by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, at the St Asaph Cathedral for the North Wales International Festival of Music by the Welsh Sinfonia, and in a later arrangement for 9 instrument chamber ensemble by the The Hardy Syndicate.

"From all of us at North Wales International Music Festival we would like to say a big thank you to the Welsh Sinfonia for delighting us and our audience with a wonderful performance."
Heather Jones
Administrator for North Wales International Festival of Music, 2004

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Orchestra: picc.2.2.ca.2.bcl.2.cbn - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - 4perc(III timp, IV+mar) - hp - str
10 minutes

Fever was commissioned by St. David's Hall, Cardiff for the Last Night of the Welsh Proms in 2000.

The ten minute piece was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes on 29th July 2000, to a packed and ecstatic audience.

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

Orchestra: picc.2.2.ca.1.ssx.bcl.2.cbn - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - 4 perc - voice - hp - str
11 minutes
Concept & lyrics by Heledd Wyn.
Commissioned by BBC National Orchestra of Wales. First performed 22/03/00 at St. David's Hall, Cardiff by BBC National Orchestra of Wales with 800 school children who sang, rapped and used their bodies as percussion, conducted by Grant Llewellyn.

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Blue Letters from Tanganyika

Orchestra: 3(III+picc).3(III+ca).3(II+Ebcl.III+bcl).2.cbn - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - timp.3perc - hp - strings
18 minutes
Commissioned by BBC National Orchestra of Wales. First performed 1997 at St. David's Hall, Cardiff by BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Martyn Brabbins. Released by Ffin Records in 2009. 

A musical journey inspired by the African adventures of the composer's mother.


At the age of twenty-six in 1953, Anne Ritchie set off alone for Tanganyika (now Tanzania), with an annual salary of £30 and the task of managing every school in an area the size of England. For two years she travelled on foot and by canoe across the water and wild country, and her letters tell of an exotic, exciting world, with “children doing arithmetic on their bare arms,” and where schoolgirls are startled by a python “but killed it quite happily!”

Forty years after she returned, her son John Hardy began discussions with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales about composing a new piece for a series of concerts. John's inspiration came from the exotic stories told by his mother her letters home, and these blue airmail letters gave the piece its name. “What I did was to use them as the basis for a sort of tone poem,” explains John, “describing in music some of the colour and drama of her time there.”

The 18-minute piece is in four movements, each based on a different part of Anne’s travels: ‘Arrival at the Lake’ after a dangerous night journey through lion territory; ‘Travel on the Lake’, sometimes tranquil, sometimes stormy and always filled with crocodiles and hippos; ‘Twilight on the Lake’ through the stillness of a long African night; ‘On Safari’, with the excitement and fear of the unknown.

Full of exuberant African colours, the piece is rich with imagery and imagination. Anyone who likes classical, orchestral and big film scores will feel instantly at home. Fresh and bold, Blue Letters from Tanganyika conjures an exotic world where lions are banished by bicycle bells, snakes are frightened away with hymns and the only person who can cure an aching tooth is a German nun.

Also at Amazon, Amazon MP3, iTunes and all major download stores. 25p of each CD sale from this site is donated to health and education charities working in Tanzania.


"The rhythmically charged, open and immediately engaging music is bright and colourful while still managing to evoke the African landscape"
Pwyll ap Siôn, Gramophone Magazine

4 stars **** "Four colourful, finely crafted movements"
Phil Sommerich, Classical Music Magazine

"masterpiece of creation... an extraordinary piece of history"
Roy Noble, BBC Radio Wales

"Colourful, filmic, and open to pleasurable listening at a single sitting"
Howard Smith, Music & Vision

"Powerfully cinematic"
Gavin Allen, South Wales Echo


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Culprit 1 remix

Culprit 1 has produced a ground-breaking remix of music from John Hardy's orchestra suite Blue Letters from Tanganyika.

John's orchesta piece is inspired by the adventures of his mother as a young woman, when she worked for several years overseeing schools in a huge area of Tanzania.

Working on his first remix of classical orchestra music, Culprit 1 was drawn in by the combination of distinctive melodies, rich sounds and a unique story. ‘I wanted to stay pretty faithful to the original tune as I liked it so much,’ he explains, ‘I also liked the fact that the music had a personal resonance for John.’

In his remix Culprit 1 built the beat from ‘recordings of people whacking stuff like pipes and doors... samples of classic 808 and 909 machines and a bit of 'mouth percussion' for good measure!’

'Culprit 1's take on the piece retains the flowing, powerful drive of the original and marries it to a light beat and twisting filters that warp and distort the music to good effect.' 
BBC Music Wales

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Ellen MacArthur: In the Eye of the Storm

Orchestra: 2(I+pic).2(II+ca).1.bcl.1.cbn - 4.3.2.btbn.1 - timp.2perc(II+mar) - hp - str
22 minutes


This music was written to accompany a BBC One documentary following the extraordinary journey of a gutsy 25-year old who sailed into the history books to become the youngest and fastest yachtswoman to cruise around the world single-handed. The music was recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Michael Rafferty.

"Ellen MacArthur thrives on extremes. After her record-breaking, life-threatening performance in the Vendee Globe round-the-world race, many people thought she might relax into cosy celebrity. Her response was to announce an attempt on the Jules Verne Challenge, the record for non-stop sailing around the world. The current record is 64 days. Ellen hoped to do it in 60.

"This one-hour special on Prime follows Ellen’s challenge from start to finish: the intensive crew-selection process, the preparation of the massive boat, the ups and downs of life on board and the ultimate triumph or failure."

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Night Flight


12 minutes
Commissioned by Welsh Sinfonia. First performed 22/03/12 at Dora Stoutzker Hall, RWCMD, Cardiff by Welsh Sinfonia conducted by Mark Eager.
The piece incorporates sections by three student composers from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

***** "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

Night Flight is an innovative work which incorporates contributions from three student composers at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, where John is Head of Contemporary Music Composition and Creative Music Technology.

Each composer explored their idea related to ‘night flight’, for example whilst second-year undergraduate Christopher Bond’s music is a ‘reflection of a tragic event’, fourth-year Welsh undergraduate Benjamin Vaughan wrote a piece about ‘a man who seeks to forget his past life as he begins his journey to a new world.’

John’s own music wraps around the three student pieces, providing a framework with starting and ending sections and musical ‘pillars’ between each student response.

The project involved extended workshop time with the orchestra for students to experiment and test ideas, such as bowing techniques for string players.

Postgraduate student Spyros Syrmos commented that ‘the project was a great experience… working with the Welsh Sinfonia in a such professional and friendly environment.’

Night Flight was first performed by the Welsh Sinfonia conducted by Mark Eager on 22nd March 2012 at the Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff.

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