September 2015 saw Nigel reunited with director Christopher Luscombe when he composed the score for a new play at Shakespeare's Globe, Nell Gwynn, by Jessica Swale. It was Nigel's fifth production at the Globe, having previously scored The Merry Wives of WindsorRomeo and JulietHenry VIII and The Knight of the Burning Pestle

The production transferred to the Apollo Theatre in London's West End and played there until April 30th 2016, starring Gemma Arterton in the iconic role of Nell, where it won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. The show is now on a national tour starring Laura Pitt-Pulford and will finish back at its original home - Shakespeare's Globe - in May. Click below for details.

 

"It is much helped by Nigel Hess's score, which sets bawdy lyrics to seductive melodies and sends the audience out humming Nell's: "I can dance and I can sing / And I can do the other thing"." Michael Billington, The Guardian ****

"Composer Nigel Hess's gorgeous compositions co-exist organically with a cast who light up the stage." Mark Shenton, The Stage *****

"The play is infused with beautiful music by Nigel Hess." Laura-Jane Foley, London Theatre *****

"Blessed with some ripe comic ditties from Nigel Hess." Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard ****

"Nigel Hess's Purcell-like songs hit every musical target." Warwick Thompson, Blouin ArtInfo

"To have musicians performing live throughout a play is such a luxury; the music performed throughout, written by Nigel Hess, creates the most excitingly magical of atmospheres....I found myself singing as I left the theatre." Andrew Tomlins, West End Frame *****

"The songs (with music composed by Nigel Hess) are inspired....a big hit with the audience." Michaela Clement-Hayes, West End Wilma *****

"Nigel Hess has provided quite fabulous music to bolster the joys here. The tunes are bright, snappy, catchy and exuberant. They feel like they might be sending up the style of the time, in a sort of Spamalot fashion, but it is more than that: the song and dance sections seduce the audience, liven them up and set them up for the darker parts of Gwynn’s tale. The musicians play superbly and the attack of the cast is faultless. For a company of actors, the harmonies are beautifully conveyed, the diction excellent, the style exactly right." Stephen Collins, Live Theatre UK *****

Nigel is delighted to be teaming up again with director Christopher Luscombe and designer Simon Higlett for the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Twelfth Night which will play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2017. 

Nigel was honoured and delighted to be asked to arrange and direct the music for the after-dinner entertainment at Her Majesty the Queen's private birthday celebration at Windsor Castle on April 21st which was attended by the entire Royal Family and close friends. The 35-minute show was directed by Christopher Luscombe, assisted by Guy Unsworth, choreographed by Maddy Brennan and stage managed by Heidi Lennard, while the company included the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, ventriloquist Nina Conti, singers Julian Ovenden and Scarlett Strallen, magician Darcy Oake, and trumpeters from the RAF Central Band. The orchestra (courtesy of Andy Barnwell Musical Co-ordination Services) was conducted by Nigel from the piano and featured Julian Leaper (violin), Nerys Richards (cello), Don Richardson (bass), Simon Gardner (trumpet), Richard Bayliss (horn), Nick Moss (woodwind) and Shan Chana (percussion).

It was a spectacular evening!

Nigel returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2014 to score two new productions of Love's Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (or Much Ado About Nothing). Both shows saw Nigel reunited with director colleague Christopher Luscombe (Shakespeare's Globe The Merry Wives of Windsor and Nell Gwynn, and Nigel's own Admission: One Shilling and The Food of Love). Both shows opened in the RSC's main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on October 15th 2014 to 5-star reviews and played until March 14th 2015.

Both productions recently played as part of Chichester Festival Theatre's 2016 season before transferring to the Opera House in Manchester, and have just completed a sell-out run at the Haymarket Theatre in London's West End.

"A blithe spirit and musicality courses through this smart pairing of Christopher Luscombe-directed productions....the whole bound together with Nigel Hess's winning English pastoral- and operetta-inflected score. The jazz-tinged music is glorious." Patricia Nicol, Sunday Times

"And it’s all perfectly paired with Nigel Hess’ chamber-music soundtrack, a harmony of strings perennially teetering towards kitsch, an ode to a lost England." Fergus Morgan, A Younger Theatre

"Leaves you with a song in your heart: composer Nigel Hess has set ‘Come live with me and be my love’ to a tune Cole Porter would be proud of." Georgina Brown, Daily Mail

"'The Seven Worthies' is adapted into the style of an operetta by composer Nigel Hess whose music beautifully enhances the comedy and drama throughout both shows." Mark Ludmon, British Theatre

"No one captures a musical period or mood quite as skilfully as Nigel Hess, and it’s his score that brings life and atmosphere to Higlett’s sets, filling them with songs that speak of Ivor Novello and Noël Coward – all world-worn romance and surging melodies with music used cinematically, accompanying as well as punctuating scenes." Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk

"Nigel Hess's aching, bitter-sweet score anchors the proceedings in period songs that evoke Gilbert and Sullivan, Ivor Novello and Noel Coward." Paul Taylor, Independent

"Nigel Hess has written a score that in one particular number, Come Live With Me and Be My Love, transcends pastiche of Cole Porter to match the melodic grace of its source." Michael Billington, Guardian

July 16th saw a unique theatrical evening take place in London's Cadogan Hall – presented by Gemma Arterton and Patrick Stewart – to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in an extraordinary programme celebrating well-known speeches, dialogues and events from many Shakespearian plays over many theatrical years.

Accompanied by music from such composers as Nigel Hess (Ladies in Lavender), Craig Armstrong (Romeo + Juliet), Henry Purcell, William Walton, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Stephen Warbeck, Shakespeare was brought vividly to life as the Bard’s most famous speeches and scandalous backstage anecdotes created a night to remember.

The performance was devised and conducted by Nigel Hess, and directed by Guy Unsworth. The concert was in support of Acting For Others.

HRH The Prince of Wales, founder and patron of Children & the Arts, hosted a special Gala Performance on Wednesday 9th March at St. James’s Palace to mark the charity’s 10th anniversary, and Nigel was honoured to arrange and direct the music for the evening which, as well as his own songs from RSC productions, included music by Craig Armstrong, Stephen Warbeck, Guy Woolfenden and Arthur Young.

The Gala featured performances in celebration of Shakespeare and Love by Hugh Bonneville, Dame Harriet Walter, Miranda Raison, Ian Bostridge, Julian Ovenden, Sam Alexander, Edward Bennett, and Children & the Arts Ambassadors Joseph Fiennes and Joe Stilgoe. The Gala was directed by Christopher Luscombe.

The Prince of Wales founded Children & the Arts in 2006 after visiting a school in Birmingham where pupils were getting to grips with Romeo & Juliet but had never been to the theatre to see the play actually performed, even though that was the best way of unlocking the play for them. Speaking soon after the charity was founded, The Prince said: “Every child, whatever his or her circumstances, should have the chance to experience the artistic excellence of our cultural heritage.”

Speaking about the Gala, The Prince, said: “As Shakespeare was the inspiration for this whole enterprise, it is particularly fitting that tonight’s event gives us the ideal opportunity to celebrate both the work of our greatest ever playwright and the activity of a charity dedicated to the vital task of bringing the very best of the arts to disadvantaged children throughout the UK.” 

Every January, Classic FM asks the world to send them their three top classical music pieces. Once voting closes, they count and collate the votes, and broadcast the top 300 across the long Easter weekend.

Never out of the Hall of Fame since their respective releases, 2017's chart saw Nigel's acclaimed film score Ladies in Lavender at number 83, while his Piano Concerto came in at number 128 (up 39 places from 2016's chart). Ladies in Lavender also clocked in at number 14 in CFM's 2016 Movie Music Chart.

"Nigel Hess' main theme for this 2004 film starring Maggie Smith and Judi Dench is simple and beautiful. Performed by award-winning violinist Joshua Bell and the Royal Philharmonia Orchestra, it is one of the most enduring film scores of recent years." (Classic FM)

"As modern piano concertos go, Nigel Hess' has to be one of the most revered. Originally commissioned by the Prince of Wales as a tribute to the memory of the Queen Mother, it has since been recorded by the likes of Lang Lang — testament to its status as a performers' concerto." (Classic FM)

 

Nigel Hess - Myra Music © 2017