The Cutlass Crew
Music by Stuart Hancock
Libretto by Donald Sturrock
We are thrilled to have the team who wrote Rain Dance for W11 Opera in 2010 back for this exciting new work!
Stuart Hancock, Composer
Between 1999 and 2005, after graduating with distinction from the Masters course in composing for film and television at the London College of Music and Media, Stuart was full-time with London music production company Mcasso, where he composed and produced music for all commercial media. He is now forging a career as a busy freelance composer and orchestrator of film, television, commercial, theatre and concert music.
Stuart won industry awards for his music and sound design from early on in his career as a commercial composer, including his work on campaigns for the British Board of Film Classification, Burberry New York and the BBC’s World Cup coverage. He has gone on to score many independent films, both shorts and features; a first big hit was EMR, which won the Raindance Film Festival and went on general release in the summer of 2005 following its Cannes premiere. Stuart’s soundtracks to two MMA action feature films – Underground and Bodyguard: A New Beginning – were released on CD and to download in June 2009 to rapturous reviews (“Hancock proves that his work is up there with the best that Hollywood has to offer. Expect great things from him in the future”; Darren Rea, review of Bodyguard: A New Beginning). In 2010, Stuart scored the World Cup football documentary One Night In Turin, which went on general cinematic release, and the album of his choral/orchestral score to the fantasy film Hawk has garnered many accolades on both sides of the Atlantic (“I had every expectation met with this soundtrack, and more. It is a delight to listen to”; Caleb Leland, Shadowlocked).
Stuart took up scoring duties on the hit primetime BBC1 Saturday night fantasy drama, Atlantis (starring Mark Addy, Sarah Parish, Juliet Stevenson, Robert Emms and a colourful array of character cameos) – delivering, in early 2015, a rich cinematic rollercoaster of an orchestral score across the 13 epic episodes. The soundtrack was released in December 2015 on Silva Screen Records, to instant acclaim (“A delightful album…the score sounds vibrant and exciting in a way that many similar scores don’t. There is a fine balance between exciting action cues and quietly melancholy ones. Both Hancock’s action writing and his dramatic compositions are compelling; drawing the listener into the score”; Pete Simons, Synchrotones)
Further success on television came in 2016, with the scores for ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ and ‘Crazyhead’. Bear Hunt, from the makers of The Snowman and The Snowdog, featured a lyrical orchestral score recorded at Abbey Road with the City of London Sinfonia and London Youth Choir, and was broadcast at Christmas to audience figures of 8 million. Meanwhile, Crazyhead, is a new comedy horror from Howard Overman (creator of Misfits) and saw Stuart producing a brutal grungey electronic soundtrack. It screened on E4 in the UK, and is now available on Netflix.
By 2013, Stuart had begun to receive considerable recognition for his film scoring, starting with the Idyllwild Cinema Festival, California, where Hawk won Best Original Score (featurette). He was pre-selected in five categories at the Jerry Goldsmith Awards (at the International Film Music Festival, Cordoba), receiving formal nominations for Hawk in the feature category and for The Desert Treasure (Plants of Qatar) in the documentary category. The Desert Treasure duly won, and Stuart was declared Best Composer overall for his body of work. In September 2013, The Desert Treasure went on to win the coveted Violetta D’Oro at the Parma International Film Music Festival, Italy, and the Gold Medal for Best Documentary Score at the Park City Film Music Festival, Utah. Stuart’s scores for the animated romantic comedy The Last Belle and the Picturehouse Cinemas branding spot both received nominations at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards in 2013.
Also in demand as a composer of concert music, Stuart’s commissioned works have been given premiere performances at many of London’s most prestigious concert venues, including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall and the Roundhouse. North Cambridge Family Opera gave the US premiere of his youth opera Rain Dance in March 2014 (originally commissioned and staged in 2010 by W11 Opera, London) and Stuart is now composing a new opera for W11’s 2017 season. His ambitious collaborative song project for symphony orchestra, choir and soloists – Snapshot Songs – enjoyed standing ovations for its performances at London’s Barbican Centre and garnered Stuart a prestigious BASCA British Composer Award in December 2015.
Donald Sturrock, Librettist
Donald Sturrock was born in 1961, and grew up in England and South America. After reading Modern History at Oxford University, he joined BBC Television’s Music and Arts Department, where he worked as both producer and director between 1983 and 1992.
At the BBC he produced and directed many documentary films, as well as distinctive and ground-breaking classical music programmes. These included After the Storm, an intimate portrait of the final years of the composer Bela Bartok, which won the 1989 Hungarian President’s Prize for the Arts, Six Foot Cinderella, a comic fantasy about the life of the operatic bass Robert Lloyd, and the award-winning Words Return to Music, an exploration of the life, music, politics and philosophy of the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.
After leaving the BBC, he wrote and directed The Graham Greene Trilogy for BBC2’s ARENA series. This three-hour programme, narrated by Sir Alec Guinness, was described by David Gritten in the Daily Telegraph as “a towering achievement… British television at its absolute peak.” The Broadcasting Writers Guild voted it Best Documentary of 1993.
In collaboration with an international team of composers, Sturrock has also adapted and directed a series of musical adaptations of Roald Dahl’s children’s stories. In 1995 he wrote and directed a BAFTA nominated television version of Little Red Riding Hood starring Danny DeVito, Ian Holm and Julie Walters and with choreography by Matthew Bourne. It was broadcast to a UK television audience of over six million viewers. Sturrock has also written and directed a four-part series for the BBC, Plácido Domingo’s Tales at the Opera and two award-winning television series The Art of Singing and the Grammy award nominated The Art of Piano, as well as An Awfully Big Adventure and The Human Face (with John Cleese).
Sturrock is an accomplished stage director. He directed the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera Fantastic Mr. Fox. Presented by the Los Angeles Opera, with designs by Gerald Scarfe, the production praised for its, “breathtaking beauty and imagination.” More recently, he translated Robert Thomas’s detective comedy Eight Women for the Southwark Playhouse.
He has also written six opera librettos including The Golden Ticket, with music by Peter Ash, which premiered in June 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri, before further performances at the Wexford International Festival. His other librettos include Fantastic Mr. Fox (Tobias Picker), Keepers of the Night (Ash), Letters of A Love Betrayed (Eleanor Alberga) which was presented at the Royal Opera House in 2009 and Rain Dance with music by Stuart Hancock for W11 Opera in 2010.
In 2010, Storyteller, Sturrock’s authorised biography of Roald Dahl was published simultaneously by Simon and Schuster in the U.S.A and HarperCollins in the U.K. It was long listed for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Spear’s Biography of the Year Award. His latest book Love from Boy was published by John Murray in June 2016. It has just come out in paperback.