[photo by Ian Hamilton]



hearne.longship at gmail.com


John Hearne now offers a full professional copying service using the Sibelius music notation programme.


  • JOHN HEARNE was born in Reading, England in 1937, his parents having come from Wales. Since 1970 he has lived in Scotland. He studied in St Luke's College, Exeter, and at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth where he gained a First Class Honours degree and a Masters degree. For a time he taught music in Iceland, and for 17 years was a lecturer at Aberdeen College of Education.
  • He was the first Chairman of the Scottish Society of Composers, and was the Chairman of the Scottish Music Advisory Committee of the BBC from 1986 to 1990. He is now a free-lance composer, singer and conductor, and was Chairman of Gordon Forum for the Arts in Aberdeenshire for three years.  He was District Councillor for  East Scotland for the  Incorporated Society of Musicians for six years and was a member of  the Executive Committee of the Composers' Guild of Great Britain prior to its absorption into the British Academy.  He was Warden of  the Performers and Composers Section of the ISM (1999-2000). John Hearne was a member of the Board of Enterprise Music Scotland from 2005-2011.
  • Recent commissions include a TRUMPET CONCERTO for Nigel Boddice and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and a big FESTIVAL FANFARE for the opening ceremony of Aberdeen International Youth Festival, both of which were premiered in 1991.  His anthem LÆTATUS SUM (Ps.122) was joint winner of the Gregynog Composers' Award for Wales in 1992 and was performed by the William Byrd Singers at the Gregynog Festival.  His wind band overture DE PROFUNDIS was commissioned for the Aberdeen University's 500th anniversary in 1995, and he has recently completed a commission - BOTTOM'S DREAM - for the Hebrides Ensemble, premiered in October 1995, and a cantata for the 150th anniversary of St Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen, which was performed by the whole school in June 1996.  A revised version of this piece for soloists, adult and children's choruses, and chamber orchestra was premiered in Aberdeen in December 1998.  His QUINTET for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet for Colin Hunter and the Aberdeen Chamber Players was premiered in February 1998.  In April 1998 John Hearne again won the Gregynog Composers' Award for Wales for SOLEMN AND STRANGE MUSIC for Piano Duet which was performed in the Gregynog Festival in June by Harvey and Helen Davies.
  • In 1985, his suite for Brass and Percussion, THE FOUR HORSEMEN, was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It was voted the best new work heard on the Fringe that year and the composer received the Festival City Radio Trophy from Radio Forth. This work has since been performed many times by a number of different groups, including the BBC Scottish Brass Ensemble and The Wallace Collection.
  • In the summer of 1998 he wrote a piece for Michael Brewer's chamber choir Laudibus.  It is a setting of the first verse of Isaiah 60, in Icelandic, and is scored for 16 voices.  In the 1999 Eton Choral Course his award winning anthem Lætatus Sum was featured, and performed by singers from all over the UK.
  • In 2000 John was commissioned by Dundee Orchestral Society to write an overture to commemorate the launching of RRS Discovery in March 1901.  Captain Scott's ship is now preserved at 'Discovery Point', Dundee, and in March 2001 Dundee Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Hearne's overture Into Uncharted Seas in the Caird Hall, exactly 100 years after the ship was launched from Dundee on its maiden voyage to the Antarctic.
  • In June 2001 Inverurie Choral Society performed another new commission by John Hearne, conducted by the composer.  This was The Ben,  a cantata for soprano and baritone soloists, children's chorus, SATB chorus, and instruments.  The text, in the Doric dialect of Aberdeenshire, was another collaboration with the poet William Imray, celebrating the familiar landmark in North-east Scotland, the mountain Bennachie.  The performance took place in the Chapel of Garioch, under the shadow of the mountain itself. A further performance was given in  May 2003 in Stonehaven in a new version with string orchestra.
  • In July 2003, John Hearne was a guest composer at the Victoria International Arts Festival in Gozo, Malta.  His choral song The Seagull, based on a folksong from Skye, was featured by the National Youth Choir of Great Britain in their 2003 tour of Australia and Singapore, and was a spectacular success.
  • John Hearne was recently (2004) awarded the degree of Doctor of Music (D.Mus.) from the University of Wales, the first time this degree has been conferred in more than thirty years.  The award was based on a portfolio of his compositions.  He graduated in Aberystwyth in July 2005.
  • In November 2010 John won the Caledonian Hilton Audience Prize in the Waverley Trust competition for a new carol. "There's a Song in the Air was published by OUP in 2011 in 'Carols for Choirs 5'. For more information go to www.waverleycare.org
  • In July 2012 John Hearne took members of the Stonehaven Chorus to Iceland for a four-day concert tour, performing in Reykjavík, Stykkishólmur, Reykholt and Borgarnes.
  • In May 2014 John stepped down as Conductor of the Stonehaven Chorus to become 'Conductor Emeritus'.  He conducted his 'retiral' concert in Stonehaven on 11 May in a programme that included the premiere of "Dream Riders", a new suite of four lyric pieces for chorus and orchestra to poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Steven, Thomas Dekker and E.V. Rieu.  The programme also included John's Icelandic folk-song suite "Summernights in the Fjords" and several a cappella choral pieces, some by contemporary composers that John has introduced to audiences over the past 25 years.
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ecent commissions and new works include:
  • TRUMPET CONCERTO BBC Commission for Nigel Boddice and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (1991)
  • FESTIVAL FANFARE for the opening ceremony of Aberdeen International Youth Festival (1991)
  • LAETATUS SUM (Anthem on Psalm 122) joint winner of the Gregynog Composers' Award for Wales, performed by the William Byrd Singers at the Gregynog Festival (1992)
  • DE PROFUNDIS overture for wind band commissioned for Aberdeen University's 500th anniversary (1995)
  • BOTTOM'S DREAM for the Hebrides Ensemble (1995)
  • CANTATA for 150th anniversary of St Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen, performed by the whole school (1996)
  • QUINTET for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet for Colin Hunter and the Aberdeen Chamber Players (1997). Premiered in February 1998.
  • SOLEMN AND STRANGE MUSIC won John Hearne the Gregynog Composers' Award of Wales for the second time. For Piano Duet, it was premiered at the Gregynog Festival in June by Harvey and Helen Davies (1998) and has since been widely performed,
    "Intercession against the plague"
    Latin text by Sedulius Scottus
    SATB and Piano
    (highly commended in 2000 Gregynog Award)
    Hymn by William Cowper (SSAATBB)
    for the Stonehaven Chorus visit to Olney Church, 
    October 2000
    "Hymn before sleep" (SSAATBB)
    Latin text by Prudentius
  • "9 X 9 - 1"
    Theme and Variations for 80th birthday of John Burman Hopwood, John Hearne's former music teacher
    Orchestral Overture (11')
    Commissioned by Dundee Orchestral Society
    for Dundee Symphony Orchestra
    to commemorate the centenary of the launching of RRS Discovery for the 1901 British Antarctic Expedition
    World premiere March 2001 in Caird Hall, Dundee
    New settings of Elizabethan texts for voices and instruments.
    1.  The Lover's Plea (high voice and guitar or lute)
    2.  Integer Vitae (SATBB a cappella)
    3.  The Song of the Cyclops (TBarB and instruments)
    4.  The Dance round the Maypole (SATBB and optional instruments)
    Nos. 2 and 4 were recently included in a 12 concert tour in Scotland by the Dunedin Consort.
    Seven songs for a cappella female chorus, various poets.
  • TOCCATA TRILINEA for organ
    Commissioned by Roger Bevan Williams for the organ of King's College Chapel, Aberdeen and first performed there during the 2007 'sound' festival.
  • PICTOGRAMS for piano solo
    Commissioned by Ivan Ilić. Six piano pieces without titles, but at the premieres in Aberdeenshire in November 2007 the audiences were invited to provide titles.
  • BENNACHIE  for SATB Chorus and Piano
    Commissioned by Inverurie Choral Society for their 10th Anniversary Conert in June 2008.
  • KISHMUL'S GALLEY  for youth choruses
    Commissioned by Mike Brewer for the 25th Anniversary of the National Youth Choir of GB. A setting for at least three choirs of a 'waulking song' from Barra in the Western Isles, was premièred in Birmingham Symphony Hall 13.4.2008.
  • SAKURA for Marimba and Piano
    Originally for harp solo, transcribed for Heather Corbett and Julia Lynch

  • Three songs for the National Youth Choir of Scotland 'Songbook 2' series (2008) for publication in 2009.

    written for The Stonehaven Chorus for their Germany Tour in 2009, and performed in Cologne Cathedral in October 2009.
    for The Stonehaven Chorus 2010
    arranged for two pianos, for Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa (2009).
    for youth string orchestra (2009), commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council.
  • Three Songs
    for NYCoS "3-4-5" song books (2012)
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  • Choral Music forms a substantial part of JOHN HEARNE'S list of works to date. Since his school days he has been associated with choirs of all kinds, ranging from madrigal groups to the 250-voice Scottish National Orchestra Chorus. As a student at Aberystwyth University in the 1960's, he sang in, and later conducted, the celebrated Elizabethan Madrigal Singers and toured with them as singer and conductor to the USA, Austria, England and Iceland. His great-uncle was the Founder President of the renowned Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir in South Wales in the 1930's.
  • John Hearne is especially interested in the folk songs of Iceland (where he spent some time teaching music) and of the Celtic areas of the British Isles.  Some of his folk song settings have recently been recorded on CD in Iceland by Hamrahlíðarkórinn on ITM 8-05 where they have proved very popular.  His popular Gaelic carol Taladh Chriosta has recently appeared on CD performed by Cappella Nova (RTCD001).
  • Also on CD: Thaisa: Two's Company (HSSM 1)
  • Every summer since 1978 John has worked for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, managing the concerts of visiting choirs and chamber orchestras from all over the world.  
Several of John Hearne's pieces are suitable for youth choirs:
Two have been performed by the National Youth Choir of GB, and several have been recorded and broadcast.
They include the Scottish songs:
  • “The Seagull” 

  • “Kishmul’s Galley”

  • “Mo chasan dhu”

  • “Heman dubh”

Welsh pieces:
  • “Y Delyn Aur”

  • “Y Glomen”

Motets and anthems:
  • “Alleluya, a new work is come on hand”

  • “Crux Fidelis”

  • “Exultate Deo”

  • “Lætatus Sum”

  • “Contra Plagam”  (with piano)

  • “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

For female voices:
  • “Songs for all Seasons”  (a cappella)

  • “Nocturne, Alba and Rondeau”  (with harp)

  • “Dream Mare”  (SSA with piano)

  • “The Jumblies”  (SSA with piano)

Icelandic Folk Songs
Various Christmas carol arrangements
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JOHN HEARNE was also a professional singer and was a member of the John Currie Singers for more than 30 years.  He has now retired from concert work.

Since 1989 John Hearne has conducted The Stonehaven Chorus, a small but enterprising choral society near Aberdeen which is gaining a reputation for progressive programming and a distinctive sound.  Recent performances have included such rareties as The Peaceable Kingdom by Randall Thompson and the Mass for Double Chorus by Frank Martin.  And in December 1995 the Chorus joined the Gothenburg Sinfonietta in a performance of Lars-Erik Larsson's cantata Förklädd Gud (A God in Disguise) in a new English translation by John Hearne which is now published by Gehrmans Musikförlag, Stockholm.  A recording of this translation is now available on IMCD 082 (Intim Musik AB). In 2008 John Hearne was asked by Gehrmans to prepare an English version of the Swedish text (by Bengt Pohjanen) of the 'Requiem' (2007) by Fredrik Sixten. This was published in July and launched at the World Symposium of Choral Music in Copenhagen. While working on the translation John Hearne decided to perform the work with The Stonehaven Chorus, and they presented the world première of the English version in May 2009 in the presence of the composer.  The Requiem was repeated in Aberdeen on Remembrance Sunday 2011.

The Stonehaven Chorus has recently produced a CD [WP080701 "Rejoice and be Glad!"] which contains several of John Hearne's compositions and arrangements as well as an unusual selection of choral pieces from Europe, America, and the British Isles. It is available from the Chorus website: http://www.stonehavenchorus.co.uk/7.html

In October 2009 The Stonehaven Chorus undertook a short tour to Germany and had the rare honour of being invited to sing at a midday service in Cologne Cathedral. John wrote the anthem “Crux Fidelis” for this occasion and it has since been performed by other groups.

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Offeren y Llwyn (Woodland Worship) (1958)
SATB and strings

Piano Sonata (1968)

Triduum (Festival Oratorio) (1968/82)
Bass Solo, SATB, TTBB, Chamber Chorus, Brass Ensemble, Orchestra

Celebrations for Brass Quintet - BBC Wales Commission (1969)
"...imaginative...exciting...craftsmanlike...evoked the image of the fastnesses that the name Iceland usually conjures...It was obvious the players enjoyed its execution as much as the audience."
Western Mail, Cardiff
"Hearne conjured all the profile, atmosphere and expectation that music should generate."
The Herald, Glasgow

Channel Firing - McEwen Commission, Glasgow University. (1979)
Trumpet, Organ, Timpani, Percussion
"...expect something individual. An imaginative composition."
Glasgow Herald
"While the idiom is complex, the texture is generally spare and economical. The work is approachable...by virtue of its inherent dramatic potential."
Press & Journal, Aberdeen

String Quartet No. 2 (1971)
"...wonderfully evocative..." Press & Journal, Aberdeen

The Four Horsemen - Caledonia Brass Commission (1985)
Brass (4141), Timpani, Percussion
"An absolute stunner of a piece; a brilliant display vehicle... and the most spectacularly vivid piece of brass and percussion that I have heard. The music has a gripping, epic quality."
Glasgow Herald
"...popular, immensely accessible and graphically exciting."

The Herald, Glasgow

Trumpet Concerto - BBC Commission (1990)
"...large-scale expressionistic music bursting with energy... in its timing, its shapeliness, and its highly effective use of a vast array of colourful percussion, this work has real personality and should be heard again soon." The Guardian.
"The composer deliberately concentrates on the aggressive or provocative potential of the instrument. Hearne chooses... to present his soloist as orator, agitator and indeed preacher of hell-fire."
Glasgow Herald

Festival Fanfare - AIYF commission (1991)

Lætatus Sum - joint winner Gregynog Award. (1992)
SSS AAA TTT BBB soli, or chorus

Nocturne, Aubade & Rondeau Latin Lyrics from Carmina Burana (1989/94)
SSA and Harp

De Profundis - Aberdeen University 500th anniversary commission, Wind Band (1995)

Bottom's Dream - Hebrides Ensemble commission. (1995)
Soprano solo, Trombone, Clarinet, Piano Trio
"The piece achieved that rarity, an individual make-believe sound world of whimsy and humour, immediately created from the opening trombone yawn."
Composer News
"In his interweaving of genial grotesquerie and luscious lyricism he has captured the essential elements of Shakespeare's tenderly comic scene."
Glasgow Herald

A Legend of Margaret - commissioned by St Margaret's School, Aberdeen, School choirs and instruments (1996) A new version for soloists, SATB chorus and chamber orchestra is now available.  (Premiered in St Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen on 6th December 1998.)
"This surprisingly complex, deep work was an immediate success. Full of atmosphere and haunting folk music, Hearne's score married beautifully with William Imray's evocative text. A landmark piece...."
Evening Express, Aberdeen

Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet (1997) received its premiere on 22nd February 1998.

'Solemn and Strange Music' - winning work of the 1998 Gregynog Composers' Award of Wales and first performed at the Gregynog Festival on 27th June 1998 by Harvey and Helen Davies.
It has since been performed many times and has recently appeared on CD: Campion Cameo "Diversity  -  Amrywiaeth" (British Composer Series)CAMEO 2073

 'Ljos' (Light) - for 16 voices, written for Michael Brewer and Laudibus and premiered by them in Bristol Cathedral on 18th October 1998. It was subsequently included in their prize-winning performances in Spain.

'Into Uncharted Seas' - an Overture for Orchestra.  Commissioned by Dundee Orchestral Society to commemorate the centenary of the launching of Captain Scott's ship Discovery from Dundee in March 1901.
"A dramatic and thoroughly convincing work, full of contrasts and moments of mystery, apprehension, terror, defiance and glory, all vividly scored with marvellous imagination and technical mastery"
Dundee Courier
"Dramatic storms and deep mysterious calms permeated the music.  Lovely woodwind writing and swirling strings animated contrasting episodes . . .  Above all, a sense of noble striving defined this music . . ."
Glasgow Herald, Nov.2006

'The Ben'  - (text by William Imray in Aberdeenshire 'Doric' Scots) sop. & bar. soloists, children's choir (SSA), SATB, organ, piano, solo violin and percussion



Some recent reviews of works for organ:

Fanfare and Processional
"for those wedding couples who want something different . . . ingeniously modular so the conclusion can easily be timed to coincide with the arrival of the bride . . . how useful this is"

9 x 9 - 1
"the work has much to commend it  . . . of moderate difficulty (ARCO) standard, with a simple pedal part and more complex manual passages . . . well worth adding to the recitalist's repertoire"

Toccata Around G
"a valuable addition to the recitalist's repertoire"

The Organ: Edition No. 322

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  • Thaisa: Two's Company (HSSM 1)
  • Thaisa:  Margaret Preston.  ‘Beltane’  (WJL 2)
  • Ljóð:  Naomi Wright (‘Cello)  ‘Anima Rising’  (asc cd 116)
  • Solemn & Strange Music:  The Davies Duo  (Cameo 2073)
  • The Seagull:  Laudibus (Mike Brewer)  ‘Scotland at Night’           (Delphian DCD34060)  

  • Peroration for solo trumpet (1966) Jack Sutte (2nd Trumpet, Cleveland Orcestra)
    (Fanfare Alone CD available from www.cduniverse.com )


Sheet Music of works by John Hearne can be purchased securely
on-line at:


Musical scores and further information about John Hearne can be obtained through the Scottish Music Centre (SMC)

and the British Music Information Centre (BMIC)

JOHN HEARNE's music is published by:

Aberdeenshire AB51 0LN

Telephone and Fax: 00 44 (0)1651 88 22 74


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John Hearne is a Member of the
Incorporated Society of Musicians




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