Kenneth Hesketh

MMus (Ann Arbor), ARCM (PG), Dip RCM

Headshot for Kenneth Hesketh

Kenneth Hesketh has been described as 'a composer at the height of his considerable powers' (BBC Music Magazine) and 'one of the UK's most vibrant voices, having a brand of modernism that reveals true love for sound itself' (International Piano). A fascination with entropy, mutation and existentialism, coexisting with a notable interest in formal design based on the influence of ‘pathways’ (labyrinths and mazes) informs his work.

He has received numerous national and international commissions from such organisations as the Fromm Foundation, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Göttinger Symphonie Orchester, the Asko ensemble, The Continuum Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, and Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal. He has been represented at festivals from London (Proms) to the USA (Tanglewood/Bowdoin) to China (Beijing Modern Music Festival). Hesketh has worked with an array of important conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Oliver Knussen, Vasilly Sinaisky, Vasily Petrenko, Susanna Malkki, Christoph-Mathias Mueller, Martyn Brabbins, Ludovic Morlot, Jac van Steen and Pascal Rophé, who described Hesketh as having 'a poetry in the way he treats the orchestra; the mixtures, and the colours [with] a strong capacity to build a shape and a dramaturgy in a piece'.

Awards include the André Chevillion-Yvonne Bonnaud Foundation Prize, France, a British Composer Award in 2017 for his work In Ictu Oculi and shortlisted for an Ivors Academy Award in 2020 (Uncoiling the River).

His work has been recorded by NMC, BIS, Paladino Music, Somm Records, Prima Facie, and Chandos labels. The first NMC recording dedicated to solely to Hesketh’s work (Wunderkammer(konzert), 2013) was devoted to large ensemble and orchestral works. A disc of Hesketh's piano music (Clare Hammond) was released by BIS in 2016 to great acclaim; In Ictu Oculi (Paladino Music) was judged one of the Top 100 disc releases in 2018 (The Times) and described as ‘An exhilarating and beautiful synergy of form and expression' (BBC Music Magazine). A Britten Sinfonia release (Somm Records, 2019) spotlighted original and orchestrated works; future releases are planned on the Chandos and Paladino Music labels.

Selected Compositions/Publications

Hesketh K (forthcoming), Ex uno plures: composing for solo instruments, in T Young & G Carpenter (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Composition, Cambridge University Press.

Hesketh K (2022), Nox Ruit… Hic locus est (derivata), for solo oboe [LINK].

Hesketh K (2021), Along Dark Paths (Per Opaca Viarum), for wind orchestra and six solo celli [LINK].

Hesketh K (2021), Carmina Tempore Viri (Songs in Time of Virus), for upper voices, harp, organ and desk bells, published by Cecilian Music, broadcast 11 June 2021 BBC3 In Concert [LINK].

Hesketh K (2018), In ictu oculi - three meditations, for wind ensemble [LINK].

Hesketh K (2015), Inscription-transformation, for solo violin and orchestra [LINK].

Hesketh K (2010), The backbone of night: mechanisms of evolution in Henri Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit, Contemporary Music Review, 29, 5, 463–483 [DOI].


Find out about Kenneth. Visit website

Visit Kenneth's YouTube channel. Visit website

Faculties / departments: Composition, Research, Academic staff


For enquiries please contact:

Kenneth Hesketh

Composition professor, Doctoral Supervisor

Back to top