Marc Harris, composer

Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Brahms, Mozart, Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Holst, Dukas, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Greig and Dvorak as well as popular influences such as John Williams, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Hans Zimmer.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Getting started on my first symphony, after that the notes came flooding out.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

I haven’t had that pleasure yet!

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with musicians, singers, ensembles, or orchestras?

I enjoy working with a younger orchestra as they are more enthusiastic.

Of which works are you most proud?

My 1st Symphony – Shifting Sands.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Definitely romantic.

How do you work?

In fits and starts. I spend a long time listening and synthesising what I hear, and then sketch out ideas on my piano before committing to Sibelius. [score writing programme]

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To hear my compositions played live.

What advice would you give to young/aspiring composers?

Listen to as wide a range of music as you can, not just classical. Follow your ear and if you are unsure of some of the technicalities of writing for orchestra, please don’t let that hold you back, they are easily corrected by a good teacher and you will learn from your mistakes.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

To expand the classical repertoire that is performed as opposed to churning out the old favourites.

What next – where would you like to be in 10 years?

Still breathing.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A holiday in Tanzania with my portable keyboard.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Hammond organ.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Travelling, writing, and listening to music.

What is your present state of mind?


Marc Harris’s epic debut Symphony, ‘Shifting Sands’, performed by the Northern Film Orchestra, was released on 25 March 2022.

Marc began working on the Symphony in 2020 during the first lockdown, when his travel company collapsed. The destruction of Marc’s previously thriving travel business provided him with the time and space to explore writing classical music for the first time. Whilst travel was halted, Marc used ‘Shifting Sands’ as a vessel to return to some of the world’s most enchanting locations once again.

Marc is a London-based musician and composer who spent lockdown writing this symphony. It is dedicated to his dear friend George Lebon, who sadly passed away in 2020.

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