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John Sturt is an English composer, born in 1995 in East Sussex. He is also a copyist, a bass-baritone singer, a conductor, and a violinist.


John was born into a musical family: his father, an engineer by trade, played the clarinet and continues to dabble in composition as a hobby, and his mother is a cello and piano teacher.

            John started his own musical journey by taking up the violin at the age of six, alongside his sister taking up the cello. Unfortunately, in 2006, John was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a cancer of the lymph nodes – which threw his life into some disarray: he had to take a year out of education for treatment, having only just made it to secondary school. Happily, and thanks to the doctors and nurses of the NHS, the cancer was beaten back, and John restarted secondary school in 2007.

            The first composition came by accident in 2009 while John was dabbling on the piano, and it was from then on, he was determined to become a professional composer. His first composition lessons were with a local teacher, Robert Hinchliffe. Later, at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, John studied under Dr Deirdre Gribbin, Dr Paul Newland, Errollyn Wallen MBE, Dr Stephen Montague and Soosan Lolavar. He graduated with a Masters Degree in Summer 2020.


The music of John Sturt comes in many different flavours, but is most often distinguished by very rich harmony, surprising harmonic changes, and a penchant for alluding to folk music in his melodic material. His influences are wide and varied, from Elena Kats-Chernin and Tarik O’Regan to Ralph Vaughan Williams and Dmitri Shostakovich.

            John has written for solo performers, chamber groups, choirs, electronics, and orchestras, and he has received several accolades for his work. In 2017, he won joint prize in the Ludlow English Song Weekend Composition Competition; his cantata “Beyond the Cradle of Humanity”, which responded to ideas of space colonisation, was premiered in 2018 and won him the Trinity Laban Silver Medal for Composition; he collaborated with Clint Wastling in the 2019 Leeds Lieder Festival; in 2020, John worked with librettist Sophia Chapadjiev to create the opera “Minutes to Midnight”, dealing with themes of nuclear standoff, crushing responsibility, and moral dilemmas; in 2023, John became one of the featured composers in the Choir and Organ New Music Series.


In the present day, John Sturt lives in East Sussex, and splits his time between composing, typesetting and copying, performing as a singer and a violinist, and volunteering on the steam locomotives of the Bluebell Railway.

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