July 16th will see 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 will be brought vividly to life as the Bard’s most famous speeches and scandalous backstage anecdotes create a night to remember.

The performance has been devised and will be conducted by Nigel Hess, and directed by Guy Unsworth. The concert will be in support of the Actors' Benevolent Fund.

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 are now being revived as part of Chichester Festival Theatre's 2016 season, and will open there in September before transferring to the Haymarket Theatre in London's West End from December.

 

 

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 played at the Apollo Theatre in London's West End until April 30th and starred Gemma Arterton in the iconic role of Nell.

 

"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 *****

 

 

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, 2016's chart saw Nigel's acclaimed film score Ladies in Lavender rising 10 places from 2015's position to number 67, while his Piano Concerto came in at number 167 (up 7 places from 2015's chart). Ladies in Lavender also clocked in at number 11 in CFM's 2015 Movie Music Chart (up 2 places from 2014).

"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)

 

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have commissioned a new piece from Nigel as part of their 175th year celebrations. It takes the form of a 'Celebration Overture' and was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Classic FM Live concert on September 22nd, followed by two performances in Liverpool on September 24th & 25th. The conductor was Vasily Petrenko.

Following Nigel's recent CD with the Central Band of the RAF, 'New London Pictures', he was commissioned to write two new pieces for the Band.

'March Barnes Wallis' commemorates the 70th anniversary of the famous 'Dambusters' raid and was premiered on BBC Radio 2's 'Friday Night is Music Night' as part of their special anniversary broadcast.

'Chansons de Normandie' is based on traditional Normandy folk songs and was also premiered on Radio 2 as part of their D-Day broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall on June 6th, 2014.

The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, in Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 am British Double Summer Time (GMT+2). In planning, as for most Allied operations, the term D-Day was used for the day of the actual landing.

Admission: One Shilling was first performed by legendary actress Patricia Routledge and international concert pianist Piers Lane in 2009 as part of the annual Dame Myra Hess Day at London’s National Gallery. The production tells the extraordinary story of how concert pianist Myra Hess founded and organized a six-year series of morale-boosting, spirit-lifting lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery throughout the darkest days of the Second World War.

Devised by Nigel Hess (Myra's great-nephew), the story, related in Dame Myra’s own words, tells how the “great adventure” of those 1600 concerts began and how they continued while the Luftwaffe’s bombs rained down on London.

Patricia and Piers have now performed Admission: One Shilling nearly 70 times around the UK, Europe and Australia (where it completed a sell-out 26-date tour), and January 2013 saw the first USA performance in Chicago with Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey's Mrs Patmore) and Inna Faliks sharing the performing honours. Nigel was in Chicago to direct the piece. The most recent London performance of Admission: One Shilling was at the Wigmore Hall where it played to a capacity house.

Nigel Hess - Myra Music © 2015