John Hopkins


Born in Sussex, my early musical experiences were between the worlds of the local church choir and the emerging band scene of the mid-1960s. Formal musical studies were at University College Cardiff, where my teachers included Alun Hoddinott and Arnold Whittall, but the most stimulating composition lessons were those with Peter Maxwell Davies at Dartington. The Cloud of Unknowing was commissioned for his Fires of London in 1979, and was first performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

After leaving university, I worked at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol before becoming Eastern Arts composer-in-residence, between January 1979 and December 1981. Remaining in Cambridge since that time, I have worked in a freelance capacity, received an Arts Council bursary, taught at Anglia Ruskin University, and since 1988 directed studies at Homerton College, where I am a Fellow, teaching music for Cambridge University.

In 1983, The Magic Mountain was chosen for the ISCM Festival in Denmark, and the BBC commissioned White Winter, Black Spring for the 1985 Huddersfield Festival. Faustus, for large orchestra, was also commissioned in 1986 for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, who gave the work its first performance under Jan Latham-Koenig. Other works have been commissioned by the Kings Lynn and Aldeburgh Festivals, and my Double Concerto for trumpet and saxophone was written in 1994 for John Wallace, John Harle and the City of London Sinfonia, conducted at its premiere by Richard Hickox.

From 1996, I worked on a D.Phil with Martin Butler at Sussex University, graduating in 2000. The central work of my submission was The Floating World for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, which was premiered in Cambridge in 2008. In 2005, the University of Hertfordshire commissioned Akhmatova Songs for Mayfest, and my song-cycle Watching the Perseids, was also given its first performance there in 2008.

Featured on:

UHR003: Reflection - Ealing Abbey Choir conducted by Timothy Blinko
UHR012: The music of John Hopkins - Olivia Robinson & University Ensemble conducted by Robin Browning