Cheryl Frances-Hoad

b. 1980



Frances-Hoad drenched each phrase in dramatic expression of the most ravishing intensity. (Matthew Wright, The Arts Desk)

Admired for her originality, fluency and professionalism, Cheryl Frances-Hoad has been composing to commission since she was fifteen. Classical tradition (she trained as a cellist and pianist at the Menuhin School before going on to Cambridge and King's College, London) along with diverse contemporary inspirations including literature, painting and dance, have contributed to a creative presence provocatively her own.

Intricate in argument, sometimes impassioned, sometimes mercurial, always compelling in its authority (Robin Holloway, The Spectator), her output - widely premiered, broadcast and commercially recorded, reaching audiences from the Proms to outreach workshops - addresses all genres from opera, ballet and concerto to song, chamber and solo music.

© Ates Orga
Critical Acclaim
Frances-Hoad's music is melodic, passionate, equal parts humour and reverence...I urge you to become acquainted with this composer's work. Her music is worth your time. - American Record Guide

..What a sound. Frances-Hoad drenched each phrase in dramatic expression – wonderment and horror, principally – of the most ravishing intensity. Dissonant chords of breathtaking complexity squirmed and spun, while exposed vocal lines, pitched and balanced perfectly by this core of singers, weaved an astonishing tapestry of vocal and emotional colours. - Matthew Wright, The Arts Desk


Cheryl Frances-Hoad was born in Essex in 1980 and received her musical education at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the University of Cambridge (where she was awarded a double 1st for her BA in Music and a distinction for her MPhil in Composition) and Kings College London (PhD, Composition). Her music has been described as "like a declaration of faith in the eternal verities of composition” (The Times), with "a voice overflowing not only with ideas, but also with the discipline and artistry necessary to harness them” (The Scotsman).

Chosen to be a featured composer on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Composer of the Week’ (‘Five under 35, March 2015), her works have garnered many awards, from the BBC Lloyds Bank Composer of the Year award when she was just 15 to more recently the Mendelssohn Scholarship, The Bliss Prize, The Cambridge Composers Competition, The Robert Helps International Composition Prize (USA), The Sun River Prize (China), The International String Orchestra Composition Prize (Malta), The RPS Composition Prize, and the BASCA British Composer Awards (where she became the youngest composer to win two awards in any year for Psalm 1 and Stolen Rhythm in 2010).

She has received two awards from the PRS Women Make Music Fund (for The Madness Industry (a brass quintet for Onyx Brass) and Sailing to the Marvellous (a ninety minute oratorio for four choirs and ensemble for Bridlington Priory) and has held the posts of Leverhulme Musician in Residence (at the University of Cambridge Psychiatry Department, 2008), Rambert Composer in Residence (2012/13), Opera North/Leeds University Cultural Fellow in Opera Related Arts (2010/12), and Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College Oxford (2021).

Cheryl has released five celebrated CDs. Her recent disc of vocal music (featuring Nicky Spence, Sophie Daneman, Mark Stone and Sholto Kynoch amongst others) was released on the Champs Hill Records label in November 2018. Magic Lantern Tales has been highly praised: "the longer you listen to this beautifully crafted CD (…) the deeper you fall under its spell” (SWR2 Treffpunkt Klassik, Germany), "Frances-Hoad’s Magic Lantern Tales disorientate and delight in equal measure.” (Opera Today). Her 2011 CD of chamber works, The Glory Tree, was selected as "Chamber Music Choice” by BBC Music Magazine.

Cheryl’s works include two piano concertos, a Cello Concerto (Katharsis), three piano trios, a ninety minute opera about the life of Amy Johnston (Amy’s Last Dive with librettist Adam Strickson), and several large scale works involving young musicians (A Young Person’s Guide to Composition was premiered by the London Chamber Orchestra and 150 children conducted by Christopher Warren Green in May 2014). 2015 saw Cheryl's BBC Proms debut with a new work for the Cardinall's Musick entitled From the Beginning of the World.

Recent projects include Last Man Standing, a work for Marcus Farnsworth and the BBC Symphony Orchestra with librettist Tamsin Collison (commissioned for the Armistice Centenary) that premiered at the Barbican in London in November 2018. Cheryl was composer-in-residence at Presteigne Festival 2019 and was Associate Composer at Oxford Lieder Festival from 2019-2021: her half-hour song cycle, everything grows extravagantly, written with poet Kate Wakeling was premiered by baritone Marcus Farnsworth and Libby Burgess in 2021 at St. John the Evangelist, Oxford and was chosen as one of the five best classical events of 2021 by The Times. November 2021 brought the premiere of Scenes from the Wild, a 70 minute cycle for tenor and chamber orchestra, commissioned to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of City of London Sinfonia. Written with the late Amanda Holden, and sung by William Morgan, the work traces a year in the life of the award-winning young naturalist Dara McAnulty. Cheryl is currently the Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College Oxford.

The music of Cheryl Frances-Hoad is published by Chester Music Limited, part of Wise Music Group.



17th December 2022

The Gesualdo Six
Owain Park
Cunerakerk, Rhenen, Netherlands

18th December 2022

Ruby Hughes, soprano; Huw Watkins, piano
Wigmore Hall, London, United Kingdom

19th December 2022

Southwell Festival Voices
Marcus Farnsworth
Southwell Minster, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

23rd February 2023

BBC Singers
Extracts from Veil of the Temple by John Tavener
St George's, Bristol, United Kingdom