Stuart Hancock is a film and TV composer, best known for his scores to BBC’s ‘Atlantis’ and the animated movie adaptation of ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’. He won a prestigious British Composer Award in 2015 for his concert work ‘Snapshot Songs’.
Stuart studied at Downing College Cambridge, and the London College of Music, graduating in 1998 with a distinction from the Masters course in Composing for Film and Television. This led to a full-time studio composer role with Soho-based music production company Mcasso, where Stuart excelled in commercial music composition and production. He went freelance in 2005 and has since built and maintained a varied career as a composer, arranger and conductor across all media.
Stuart quickly won industry recognition for his music and sound design, with awards for his commercial work on campaigns for the BBFC, Burberry New York and the BBC World Cup coverage. A first big film-scoring hit was with EMR, which won the Raindance Film Festival and went on general release in the summer of 2005 following its Cannes premiere. Stuart’s first soundtrack releases – for the independent action movies ‘Underground’ and ‘Bodyguard: A New Beginning’ – came 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’). Stuart followed this with the World Cup football drama-documentary ‘One Night In Turin’ in 2010, which went on general cinematic release, and the album of his choral/orchestral score to the fantasy film ‘Hawk’ 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).
In late 2014, Stuart took up scoring duties on the hit primetime BBC1 Saturday night fantasy drama ‘Atlantis’, delivering a rich cinematic rollercoaster of an orchestral score across 13 epic episodes. The soundtrack was released in December 2015 on Silva Screen Records, to instant acclaim (“A magnificent work… the score sounds vibrant and exciting in a way that many similar scores don’t. Both Hancock’s action writing and his dramatic compositions are compelling”; Pete Simons, Synchrotones).
By 2013, Stuart had begun to receive considerable recognition for his scoring of independent films, starting with the Idyllwild Cinema Festival, California, where ‘Hawk’ won Best Original Score (featurette). He won the documentary score category of the Jerry Goldsmith Awards (at the International Film Music Festival, Cordoba) with his poetic music for ‘The Desert Treasure’, and 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. In 2016, Stuart’s quirky folk-inflected score for the bittersweet short ‘Killing Thyme’ (starring Brian Cox and Charlotte Riley) won a further Jerry Goldsmith Award in the best short film score category.
Stuart capitalised on this success in 2016 with two breakthrough television projects: dark grungy electronica for the E4/Netflix comedy horror ‘Crazyhead’ (from Misfits writer-creator Howard Overman) and colourful orchestral scoring for the animated adaptation of ‘We’re Going On A Bear Hunt’ (from the makers of The ‘Snowman and the Snowdog’). ‘Bear Hunt’ premiered on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve and was the channel’s highest-rated programme of the year with over 8 million viewers, and Stuart now conducts live concert performances of the film score to family audiences internationally (most recently in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in a double-bill with The Snowman).
Stuart’s latest music for film includes the award-winning coming-of-age short ‘Him & Her’ (2019), and the adapted score for ‘The Ice King’, a feature-length BBC Storyville documentary about Olympic champion ice skater John Curry, which had a UK cinema release in April 2018. 2020 credits include the songs and score for the children’s film musical ‘Mr Tumble: the Movie’, and a feature documentary marking the anniversary of Hiroshima.
Also in demand as a composer of concert music, Stuart’s second youth opera – a pirate romp called ‘The Cutlass Crew‘ – was staged by W11 Opera in Hammersmith in December 2017, and is set for its US premiere in March 2020. His previous concert work includes the ambitious collaborative song project for symphony orchestra, choir and soloists called ‘Snapshot Songs’, which received standing ovations for its performances at London’s Barbican Centre and garnered Stuart a prestigious BASCA British Composer Award in December 2015.
Stuart released ‘Raptures’ in November 2019 – his first album of concert music, recorded with the BBC Concert Orchestra. It has received unanimously glowing reviews across the classical music press:
- “Wide-eyed, big-hearted… a joyous hour of large, lyrical music” (BBC Music Magazine, December 2019)
- “I really cannot praise it too highly. It is such a pleasure to be able to thoroughly enjoy a modern work, and to be able to believe that the orchestra are thoroughly enjoying themselves too” (Musicweb International)
- “Effervescent…spacious sound and detailed annotations…much to enjoy” (Gramophone, February 2020)
- “His gift for a sweeping, heart-rending theme makes this a thoroughly indulgent pleasure… expert orchestration in themes that are always big on appeal” (The Strad, February 2020)
The central piece on the album, Stuart’s Violin Concerto, was performed on February 29th 2020 at London’s Cadogan Hall (with Jack Liebeck as soloist with Imperial College Symphony Orchestra).