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John Hardy

Job Role: Head of Composition

Department: Composition and Creative Music Technology

Honours: FRWCMD, Cert Adv Studies (Composition) GSMD, MA (Oxon), LTCL (Trumpet)

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John Hardy is an international composer and collaborator, always working to create art, including film, opera and theatre, in Wales and worldwide. His work is characterised by a directness of communication, a focus on totality of experience, and a valuing and nurturing of creativity in others. ‘Utterly engrossing’ (The Guardian); ‘hauntingly atmospheric’ (The Observer); ‘energetic, instinctive’ (The Times); ‘unique’ (The Guardian); ‘witty’ (The Independent); ‘gripping and intensely theatrical’ (Opera Now).

As a boy, John was head chorister at Exeter Cathedral. While at Oxford University and the Guildhall School he was director of Edington Festival for four years. John’s approach in education work is to encourage 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.


For decades John was a freelance composer and collaborator in many forms of art and throughout the creative industries, travelling widely and often away for long periods, but mostly based in Wales.

John collaborated closely with RWCMD graduates Benjie Talbott, Tic Ashfield, Sam Barnes and other former students on a number of live theatrical events, TV, film and dance. For example, The Gathering for National Theatre Wales, which involved composing music for an environment-based, site specific theatre performance, including sound recordings installed within the landscape across the south side of Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon, and featuring the extraordinary presence on the mountain of the local Deiniolen Brass Band.

Other innovative collaborations include The Hunchback in the Park for Aardman Animation and BBC Online, scored for BBC National Orchestra Of Wales; On Bear Ridge, The Persians, Coriolan/us, and Iliad for National Theatre Wales; Steel Country, a USA-based contemporary film drama shot in Atlanta, Georgia and starring Irish actor Andrew Scott; and multiple seasons of TV dramas, A Mind To Kill / Heliwrl, Hidden / Craith, The Light In The Hall / Y Golau, and Bregus [Fragile].

Notable Achievements

John’s commissions include substantial works for Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, Music Theatre Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Test Dept, Only Men Aloud, Westminster Abbey, BBC Singers and London Brass. Performances include collaborations with ICA London, DV8/National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre Wales, Brith Gof, Edington Music Festival, Oslo, Madrid, Copenhagen, Dublin, Machynlleth and Polverigi Festivals, LIFT, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Mayfest, Project Voice, and much touring.

John and the composers at John Hardy Music hold six BAFTA Cymru awards, plus five further nominations, for their film and TV scores. John is interested in exploring ways for younger artists to prepare themselves for a lifetime of rewarding and sustainable creativity and collaboration.

He was invited to conduct a review of the composition courses at the National Film and TV School (NFTS) at Beaconsfield in 2019 and has examined doctoral work for Royal Holloway University of London, 2018-2019.


John’s research includes an interest in the processes that animate teamwork. For the TV series Hinterland / Y Gwyll, his methods of working demonstrated an innovative approach in which real-time improvisation, and the encouraging of each member of the collaborative team to contribute to every part of the process, established a rigorous process that led to invigorating artistry, but also an ability to work at great speed, and within budget, enabling the composition and production of huge amounts of responsive and nuanced music throughout the entire production of thirteen feature-length episodes.

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