Robert Hugill - Contemporary classical music, journalism, lectures, talks and blogging

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Robert Hugill
Robert Hugill
photo Jonny Bourchier


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

Robert runs the highly regarded classical music blog Planet Hugill as well as writing opera reviews for

Robert gives regular pre-concert concert-talks at venues such as Conway Hall and St John's Smith Square, and lectures on musical and operatic topics, as well as writing programme notes.

Robert is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Planet Hugill is also available as a magazine on Flipboard, and you can sign up to the Mailing List for the monthly newsletter.

You can hear Robert's music On SoundCloud, and it is available on CPDL and from Robert's complete catalogue is available for browsing on-line.

Four of my motets from Tempus per Annum are receiving American performances in December 2018, the chamber vocal ensemble Tapestry, conducted by G Roberts Kolb are performing Populus Sion, Hodie scietis, Rorate coeli, Lux fulgebit at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY, on 15 December, further details from the center's website, and at St. James Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY on 16 December.

My arrangement of Julian Merson's carol There is No Rose is premiered by London Concord Singers, conductor Jessica Norton, as part of their concert at St George's Bloomsbury on 6 December 2018. Further details from the choir's website. Further ahead, on 5 May 2019 there will be a programme of my songs and instrumental music at Conway Hall based on my disc Quickening, and then on 18 June 2019 William Vann will be conducting the premiere of my new opera The Gardeners


It is very exciting that three different discs including pieces of mine have been issued recently. My own disc, Quickening (reviewed in the January edition of Gramophone magazine) on Navona Records, is entirely devoted to my songs, Lux memoriaque on Nimbus Alliance contains my motet Populus Sion and four of my songs are included on Sappho, Shropshire and Super-tramp, the English Poetry and Song Society disc on Divine Art. Further details of all three below.

Sappho, Shropshire and Super-tramp on Divine Art records, a two disc set, it contains song cycles by Ivor Gurney, William Carnell, Michael Watts, and Denis Wickens, plus contemporary composers associated with the English Poetry and Song Society, all performed by Johnny Herford (baritone), Sarah Leonard (mezzo-soprano) and Nigel Foster (piano). The set includes four of my songs setting poems by Rabindranath Tagore, Hart Crane and Thomas Wyatt. Full details from the Divine Art website.

Populus Sion: Peter Leech and Harmonia Sacra's new disc from Nimbus Alliance, Lux memoriaque, is based around contemporary sacred music from Advent, much of it performed at the group's regular Advent Sunday concert at St Thomas the Martyr in Bristol. Amongst the works which the choir has performed over the years are a group of my Advent motets from Tempus per Annum, my cycle of 70 motets for the Church's year (all motets are available for free download on

Lux memoriaque includes one of these, Populus Sion, alongside music by Lawrence Whitehead, David Bednall, Jonathan Lee and Peter Leech. Full details from the Amazon website.

Quickening: Songs by Robert Hugill to English and Welsh Poets is the new CD of my songs on the Navona Records label.
  • 'four delicate, sensitive settings of Ivor Gurney, drawing performances of like quality' - Gramophone magazine Jan 2018
  • 'it is Rosalind Ventris's viola, weaving its way around and between the voice and William Vann's piano, that is most beguiling' - Gramophone magazine Jan 2018
  • 'A disc worth hearing' - Classical Iconoclast
  • 'His candid gift for gracious melody' - MusicWeb International
  • 'Hugill writes with a real awareness of beauty of text and of sound. ... This is remarkable music' - Fanfare magazine Jan/Feb 2018
  • 'Lovers of finely crafted art songs will definitely want to check this disc out' - Fanfare magazine Jan/Feb 2018
A talented group of young British artists, Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano), Rosalind Ventris (viola), Johnny Herford (baritone) and William Vann (piano) have recorded a disc of my settings of poems by Rowan Williams, AE Housman, Ivor Gurney and Christina Rossetti. We are very pleased indeed that Dr Rowan Williams gave us permission to record my setting of his powerful poem 'Winterreise: for Gillian Rose, 9 December 1995'.

A sample track from the CD is available in the SoundCloud box to the right. Further details (including on-line sales) on the Quickening page.

The disc features of four of Robert's song cycles, and an extra song performed by baritone Johnny Herford, mezzo-soprano Anna Huntley, viola player Rosalind Ventris and pianist William Vann. Read more about Quickening at the Navona Records website. The works on the disc are:
  • Four Songs to Texts by Ivor Gurney
  • Four Songs to Text by A.E. Housman - Available on-line
  • Winter Journey (setting a poem by Rowan Williams)
  • Quickening (setting poems by Christina Rosetti) - available on-line
  • When Summer's end is nighing available on-line
For those not available on-line, specimen copies are available for perusal, please contact us.

Opera magazine: In the November 2016 issue of Opera magazine you can see Robert's review of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin performed by the National Academic Opera and Ballet of Belarus at the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn.

The Genesis of Frankenstein, Robert's latest opera, is now available to view on Vimeo.

Dominus illuminatio mea, Robert's motet was premiered by London Concord Singers, conductor Jessica Norton, on 8 December 2016 at the Priory Church of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell.

Robert will be giving pre-concert talks at Conway Hall, on 26 November 2017.

Estonian Music Days
Robert at the 2016 Estonian Music Days, Tallinn
Robert gives regular pre-concert talks and lectures on music and opera, as well as writing programme notes for venues such as St John's Smith Square.

Recent lectures have included an illustrated five-lecture series Introduction to Opera for The Course in Mayfair, and Introduction to Opera lectures for U3A London in Hampstead Town Hall. Robert will be returning to The Course for a future series of Introduction to Opera and has further U3A lectures planned.

Robert gives regular pre-concert talks at Conway Hall and has a number planned for the 2016/17 season (see the right-hand column for further details). Other recent pre-concert talks have included an introduction to Bach's The Art of Fugue at St John's Smith Square for Kimiko Ishizaka's performance of the work in her own completion.

Recent pre-concert talks have included:
  • Another vein of nationalism: Czech chamber music in the 19th and 20th centuries, introducing quartets by Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek
  • From accompanied sonata to three independent parts: A brief history of the piano trio, introducing piano trios by Haydn, Mendlessohn and Beethoven
  • The Art of Fugue and its completion: introducing Kimiko Ishizaka's performance of her own completion
Illustrated lectures have included Rossini's Neapolitan Operas, Puccini and Verismo and The Life and Works of Bellini for Divas and Scholars at Cadogan Hall, and the Bellini lecture included an innovative lecture recital given in collaboration with the soprano Nelly Miricioiu.

Robert's other lectures have included:
  • Inventing French Opera - politics, power and poetry at the 17th century French court. Read more about the lecture
  • Another vein of nationalism - Czech chamber music in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read more about the lecture
  • Various Voices - An introduction to the variety of classical singing voices
  • Aria and Recitative - An introduction to the nuts and bolts of opera
  • From Mad Scenes to Music Drama, Verdi and His Music - A look at how Verdi's music developed from the Donizetti-inspired operas of his early years to the music drama of his late masterpieces
An Introduction to Opera lecture series was presented by The Course, at University Women's Club, Mayfair from 14 January to 11 February 2016. Over the course of five lectures Robert looked at Monteverdi, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, 19th century French opera, Verdi, and Wagner, covering the development of the operatic art-form from its first origins to its culmination in the works of Wagner and Verdi in the 19th century. Its aim was to introduce opera, but and put the operatic works in historical context. In each lecture a particular era was examined and combined with an historical overview, a detailed look at the work of selected composers and a focus on three particular operas. To encourage listeners to explore further, lectures concluded with recorded operatic extracts, and suggested listening lists were provided for those who wish to explore further at home.
Robert's blog Planet Hugill contains regular reviews of concerts, CD's and operas by Robert, our contributor Ruth Hansford and guest posters, along with concert previews, classical music news, interviews and feature articles on subjects as diverse as Handel opera, Bizet's Carmen and English opera in the 1950's.

To receive Robert's lively monthly This month on Planet Hugill e-newsletter, sign up his Mailing List.

Birgitta Festival
Robert and other journalists at the 2016 Birgitta Festival, Tallinn
Planet Hugill has been running in its present form since 2011, and averages over 60 postings per month.

There is a regular interview slot on Saturday mornings, and recent interviewees have included the composer Sven Helbig, Thomas Lauderdale of the band Pink Martini, the conductor Kristjan Järvi, composer Samuel Bordoli and soprano Rhian Lois.

The blog covers the diversity of music in and around London, with occasional forays further afield. We cover performances at many of the summer festivals including Garsington, Glyndebourne, Grange Park Opera and Opera Holland Park, as well as visiting Opera North and Welsh National Opera.

Visits abroad have included coverage of the Santa Fe Opera, Dresden Festival, Slovak National Opera, the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn and the Estonian Music Days.
Future performances of Robert's music are listed in the RH column, and you can also view Recent performances. Samples of his music are available at Robert's music and recordings are for sale on-line at, and Robert's motets from his collection Tempus per Annum are being made available on CPDL. Robert's CD The Testament of Dr. Cranmer is available from Divine Art. Hear Robert's motet Exaudi sung by London Concord Singers here.

TEMPUS PER ANNUM The Choir of St John's Church, Fulham, directed by Ben Woodward, performed Robert's motet Dilexisti Justitiam on 10 January 2016 (the Sunday after Epiphany), the motet sets the introit for the First Sunday after Epiphany (The Baptism of Christ). Ben Woodward and St John's choir gave the premiere of Resurrexit, one of the Easter motets from Tempus per Annum, last year and London Concord Singers, conductor Jessica Norton, performed it as part of their Easter 2016 concert. Tempus per Annum consists of 70 motets for the church's year and all are available for download from CPDL.

THE GENESIS OF FRANKENSTEIN The Genesis of Frankenstein is now available to view on Vimeo.

Robert's third opera The Genesis of Frankenstein was premiered on October 28 and 29, conducted by Noah Mosley and directed by Ella Marchment, as part of the Helios Collective's Toi, Toi, Toi at CLF Art Cafe Peckham.

BUYING ROBERT'S MUSIC Robert's full catalogue is available on this site, whilst more of Robert's catalogue and recordings is now available for sale on, whilst the motets from Robert's collection Tempus per Annum are being made available free on CPDL. All the completed motets are currently available (nearly 60) on CPDL, and all the motets from the collection (72 in all) will be available for free download.

6 Dec 2018
St George's Church, Bloomsbury
Julian Merson, arr. Robert Hugill There is no Rose
London Concord Singers
Jessica Norton (conductor)
15 Dec 2018
View Arts Center, Old Forge, NY, USA
Robert Hugill Populus Sion, Hodie scietis, Rorate coeli, Lux fulgebit
Rob Kolb (conductor)
16 Dec 2018
St. James Episcopal, Clinton, NY, USA
Robert Hugill Populus Sion, Hodie scietis, Rorate coeli, Lux fulgebit
Rob Kolb (conductor)
5 May 2019
Conway Hall
Robert Hugill: Winter Journey
Three pieces from Book of Common Prayer
Anna Huntley (mezzo-soprano)
James Newby (baritone)
Rosalind Ventris (viola)
William Vann (piano)
18 June 2019
Conway Hall
Robert Hugill The Gardeners
World premier of new opera, libretto by Joanna Wyld
Conducted by William Vann
18 July 2019
Robert Hugill The Black Dragon
London Concord Singers
Jessica Norton (conductor)
Talks and Lectures
3 January 2019, 1:50pm
U3A London Music Day
As if sent by God:
Robert & Clara Schumann, and Johannes Brahms
14 April 2019, 5.30pm
Conway Hall
Pre-concert talk:
5 May 2019, 5.30pm
Conway Hall
Pre-concert talk: in advance of the concert of my songs
Previous Performances
11 Feb 2018
Cheltenham Contemporary Concerts
Prince Michael Hall, Dean Close School, Cheltenham, GL51 6EP
Robert Hugill 3 pieces from Book of Common Prayer
Rosalind Ventris (viola)
James Willshire (piano)
email Robert
"You are a fresh and original composer
and deserve all possible encouragement",
Malcolm Williamson
late Master of the Queen's Music