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Biography

John Hopkins is Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Faculty of Music, and also a Fellow and Director of Studies for 3rd Year students at Homerton College.

Among my first musical promptings were the guitars of Hank Marvin and later Keith Richards, balanced by an unlikely membership of a parish church choir, where I sang successively as a treble, a tenor and finally as a bass. I studied for both my B.Mus and M.Mus at University College Cardiff, where my teachers included David Wynne, Alun Hoddinott and Arnold Whittall. Composition studies were also pursued with Peter Maxwell Davies at the Dartington Summer Schools and privately with Nicholas Maw.

After leaving university, I worked as music organiser at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, before becoming composer-in-residence for Eastern Arts. The Fires of London commissioned The Cloud of Unknowing for a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and The Magic Mountain was chosen by Hans Werner Henze for the ISCM Festival in Denmark. The BBC commissioned White Winter, Black Spring for the Huddersfield Festival and also Faustus, for large orchestra, for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Other pieces have been commissioned by the Kings Lynn and Aldeburgh Festivals, and my Double Concerto, for trumpet, saxophone and orchestra was written for John Wallace, John Harle and the City of London Sinfonia, conducted at its premiere by the late Richard Hickox.

From 1996, I worked for a D.Phil with Martin Butler at Sussex University, graduating in 2000. The central piece of my doctoral submission, The Floating World, for mezzo-soprano and orchestra was first performed by Olivia Ray, conducted by Peter Britton, at the West Road Concert Hall. Akhmatova Songs was written for the University of Hertfordshire’s Mayfest, and also included on a CD of vocal pieces released by their UHR label in 2009. After an early association with Schirmer, my work has been published by Ricordi since 1986.

Research remains firmly centred on composition and contemporary music, with the work of Elliott Carter continually fascinating and challenging. I’m also deeply interested in the legacies of both Stravinsky and Sibelius, especially the current generation of Finns, with their links to both as well as to the French Spectral composers, Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail.