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the website of composer Nigel Hess
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Welcome to the official Nigel Hess website!

We hope you enjoy exploring this site, whether you want to find a piece of music, listen to some recordings or watch some film clips. The site is being constantly updated, but please feel free to get in touch via the 'Contact' button above if there's something else you'd like to know. Meanwhile, here's the latest news:


Nigel was deeply honoured to be amongst the twelve composers commissioned by His Majesty The King to write new pieces for the Coronation at Westminster Abbey on May 6th, 2023. A range of musical styles and performers blended tradition, heritage and ceremony with new musical voices of today, reflecting The King's life-long love and support of music and the arts. His Majesty personally commissioned the new music and shaped and selected the musical programme for the Service.

Based on one of His Majesty's favourite hymns, Be Thou my Vision - Triptych for Orchestra was a commission from a trio of composers, Nigel Hess, Roderick Williams and Shirley J Thompson, who each created contemporary musical responses to the Irish hymn and skilfully wove them together into a single work. Nigel begins the piece with an opening horn call inspired by the acoustics of Westminster Abbey which introduces a stirring rendition for the full orchestra. This gently subsides into a slow rhapsody by Roderick Williams based on the iconic shapes of the Slane melody of the hymn, concealing a musical cryptogram of His Majesty’s name. A sparkling fanfare launches the final section, by Shirley J Thompson, with undulating triplets supporting variations of the melody that are intricately woven throughout, leading to a triumphant and celebratory ending.

Nigel's previous royal commissions include the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra written in memory of the Queen Mother, and a ballet based on The Old Man of Lochnagar, a short story written by The Former Prince of Wales in 1980.

Nigel's new album, Reflections, is now available on all streaming platforms. This collection of tranquil tracks for piano, harp and strings features Nigel on piano with harpist Suzy Willison-Kawalec and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and is released on the Audio Network label.

Nigel has been commissioned to write a festive concert piece for the wind band of Bergkapelle St.Ingbert in Germany. It will be based on the Steigerlied, a well-known German miner's folk song. Amongst other current commissions is a piece for the Royal Humane Society's 250th Anniversary which will be performed at a service at St.Paul's Cathedral, London, in September.

The Food of Love project started as a CD collection of Nigel's scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company in new orchestrations performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Due to the success of the album the RPO suggested a live performance, and, with a script written by Nigel, the concert version of The Food of Love was first performed at Cadogan Hall with narrators Dame Judi Dench and Sir Patrick Stewart. Now, as part of this year's Summer Music in City Churches Festival, a new version of The Food of Love was premiered on June 7th, performed by singers Michael Dore and Eleanor Grant with actors Nancy Carroll and Richard Teverson accompanied by Nigel at the piano. As well as Nigel's music, other composers featured included Craig Armstrong, William Walton, Michael Kamen, Cole Porter and Stephen Warbeck, with Shakespeare being brought vividly to life as the Bard’s most famous speeches and scandalous backstage anecdotes created a night to remember!

In 2018 Nigel was honoured to be asked to arrange and conduct the music for the after-dinner entertainment at King Charles' 70th birthday celebration at Buckingham Palace, with Christopher Luscombe directing and Guy Unsworth producing. The company included Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Alfie Boe, Gary Wilmot and the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.

The same creative team had previously devised the entertainment for Her Majesty the Queen's private 90th birthday celebration at Windsor Castle in 2016, which was attended by the entire Royal Family and close friends. On this occasion the company included the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, Nina Conti, Julian Ovenden, Scarlett Strallen, and trumpeters from the RAF Central Band.

For both shows the versatile orchestra, directed by Nigel from the piano, was provided by Andy Barnwell Musical Co-ordination Services.


This Orchid Classics album is the latest collection to celebrate Nigel's music with world premiere recordings and new versions of favourite compositions, turning the spotlight on works written primarily for the concert hall or without onscreen images in mind. The Way of Light – The Music of Nigel Hess features a stellar cast of performers, among them pianists Piers Lane and Nicholas McCarthy, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Singers and Sir Derek Jacobi, with rousing contributions from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. It comprises everything from a bold ballet suite to the sublime Arise My Love, a haunting setting of words from the Song of Solomon, and the equally seductive Live With Me and Be My Love. Think of it as the ultimate Nigel Hess mixtape!

Every year Classic FM asks their listeners to vote for their three top classical music pieces. Once voting closes, they count and collate the votes, and broadcast the top 300 over a dedicated weekend.

Never out of the Hall of Fame since their respective releases, 2024's chart again included Nigel's acclaimed film score Ladies in Lavender at number 129 and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra at number 239. Ladies in Lavender also clocked in at number 14 in CFM's 2023 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 Philharmonic 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)


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