Harriet Grainger is a young British contemporary classical composer with a background in dance and as a cellist and pianist. Her music suggests something unquiet with its stillness, “bringing landscapes to life, creating a quiet moment of observation for the listener which stirs the soul” (Royal College of Music, London). 

Harriet composes instrumental and electroacoustic music for the concert hall, theatre, dance, film, documentaries and other media, using field-recordings from her own travels across the world.

Harriet’s music often concentrates on achieving an equilibrium between power and fragility. Highly delicate, weightless passages are occasionally forced apart by darker, angular material. This focus on contradiction and of discovering ‘balance’ has arisen from how she reflects upon the nature of life. Harriet is also heavily influenced by desolate landscapes and geological landforms such as glaciers and caverns. The use of resonant spaces plays an important architectural role in her music.

After completing her undergraduate studies in music composition at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a term spent studying abroad at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Harriet attended the Royal College of Music in London as a RCM Award Holder supported by a Douglas and Hilda Simmonds scholarship, as a Clifton Parker Award Holder, and also generously received a Vaughan Williams Bursary from the RVW Trust. Her primary composition professors have included Kenneth Hesketh, Helena Tulve and Lynne Plowman.

Harriet’s work has been performed in the UK and internationally, including at the Royal Albert Hall’s Festival of Science: Space, Vienna Summer Music Festival, BBC Hoddinott Hall, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the highSCORE festival in Italy, and the Leeds Lieder Festival. She was the recipient of the 2015 Philip Bates Trust Composition Prize and Audience Award, and has worked with artists/organisations such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Jac van Steen, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Royal College of Music, Guiyang and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestras, Ensemble PHACE, Trio Immersio, and Music Theatre Wales.

In addition to composing Harriet has been in the process of developing MarineSound Lab., a music studio & media production company dedicated to supporting global marine conservation efforts. She has also undertaken musicological research projects in Indonesia and most recently in the Gansu Province in northwestern China, a trip that was generously funded by the Shanghai Conservatory and the Royal College of Music.

Photo by Serena Bolton


Harriet Grainger