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MARK HINTON STEWART

MUSICIAN  |  COMPOSER

BIOGRAPHY

Inspired by his grandmother, a pianist who studied at The Royal Academy of Music in London, Mark's journey into music began with piano lessons at the age of seven. The teacher/pupil relationship is vital in the formative years and, throughout his progress up to Grade 8, Mark was fortunate to have three teachers with whom he had a great affinity. It was clear from the start that Mark was destined to be a musician and alongside piano, he studied clarinet to Grade 8, discovered the joys of choral music through singing in many choirs as treble, alto and then tenor and began learning classical organ when his legs were long enough to reach the pedals! His clarinet teacher, a multi-instrumentalist, put an alto saxophone in his hands and introduced him to playing jazz and helped him to discover the joys and freedom of improvisation. Mark transferred this skill of improvising to the piano and he'd spend many long hours sitting at the piano in a complete world of discovery, very different to learning Bach, Beethoven and Mozart from notated scores.


Mark went on to study at Exeter University and graduated with an honours degree in Music. During his time at Exeter, he immersed himself in music making of all kinds which saw him performing on the piano, both solo and duet, accompanying singers and instrumentalists, playing clarinet and bass clarinet with the University Symphony Orchestra, accompanying the University Chapel Choir as University Organ Scholar and singing in many choirs ranging from music of the Renaissance to music of contemporary composers. Mark was also a regular performer in musical theatre where he could be seen either acting and singing onstage, playing in the orchestra pit, or as Musical Director. He continued his jazz saxophone playing and performed with many different musicians and fronted his own jazz funk band. This immense variety of music making saw Mark appearing regularly on local radio and television.
 

After graduating, Mark spent a year working at Exeter Northcott Theatre, Exeter's flagship professional theatre where, amongst other things, he composed music for Declan Donellan’s acclaimed production of Martin Sherman’s BENT, and where he played keyboards for George Stiles' and Anthony Drewe’s world premiere of the musical TUTANKHAMUN.
 

Mark was then Assistant Director of Music at Bishop’s Stortford College in Hertfordshire, after which, he moved to London to work as a freelance professional musician.
 

One of Mark’s first jobs was the role of actor/pianist for Keith Strachan’s poignant production of TONIGHT: LOLA BLAU followed by on-stage pianist for the Orange Tree Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of THE LADY OR THE TIGER. He was then assistant musical director and keyboard player for the Watermill Theatre’s production of MOLL FLANDERS, and assistant musical director and pianist for award winning playwright Richard Harris' and Keith Strachan's musical FROM HERE TO MATERNITY directed by Millicent Martin.
 

Mark has since been very active on the London music scene, principally as a pianist and keyboard player, both for live work and for studio recordings and this has led to both national and international engagements. He has played with many different singers and instrumentalists (from jazz to rock and pop) and formed his own bands, most notably THIS SIDE UP with Luiz de Almeida on guitar and Dylan Howe on drums, and ELECTRIC BLUE LEMON with Giles Andrews as vocalist and lyricist. Mark also found a hidden passion for all things Brazilian, and co-founded Brazilian bands SARABANDA and AUWÊ, the former playing much of the repertoire from the Brazilian Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB) such as Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim and Caetano Veloso, and the latter playing original songs written by the band much in the style of the progressive rock of the 1970s, in particular the two Clube da Esquina albums of Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges. As well as playing numerous times at the Jazz Café in London (including performing as the band for Clara Moreno - daughter of famous Brazilian singer Joyce), AUWÊ also opened shows for Caetano Veloso at the Barbican and for Marisa Monte at the Royal Festival Hall, and were invited to Rio de Janeiro to play in the Humaitá Pra Peixe festival, Rio's foremost festival for new music and new bands. Mark currently plays piano alongside guitarist Mo Nazam for the group THE BERAKAH PLAYERS, part of the charity BERAKAH ARTS, an innovative organisation dedicated to crossing boundaries of race, religion and culture through the arts.
 

As a session player, Mark has played on many film and television drama soundtracks, and has appeared on various live television shows with the likes of Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and Placido Domingo. His studio work has included keyboards for Kirsty MacColl on her album TROPICAL BRAINSTORM, and piano and keyboards for French singer Arielle’s album IMBECILE HEUREUSE produced by David Corcos and mixed by Mario Caldatto jr. Mark was also orchestral arranger and conductor for Arielle’s album (recorded at Smecky Studio, Prague), as well as string arranger and conductor for Jools Holland’s album SUNSET OVER LONDON and choir arranger and conductor for Adam F’s album KAOS: THE ANTI-ACOUSTIC WARFARE.
 

Mark’s break into composing music to picture came with the Sky Pictures feature, TUBE TALES, which led on to, amongst others, the Film Four/Tiger Aspect feature DOG EAT DOG starring Gary Kemp, Alan Davies and Melanie Blatt, and the Spice Factory/Phantom Pictures feature BABY JUICE EXPRESS starring Nick Moran, Phil Davis, Lisa Faulkner and Samantha Janus. He composed the score for the film festival and internet sensation THE MAN FROM EARTH and recently finished scoring the sequel, THE MAN FROM EARTH: HOLOCENE. As a composer for television drama, Mark scored all four series of the highly successful BBC One drama, CUTTING IT, starring Amanda Holden, Sarah Parish, Jason Merrells and Ben Daniels, followed by further dramas, including BBC One’s FINAL DEMAND starring Tamzin Outhwaite, Liam Cunningham and Simon Pegg, BBC One’s 55 DEGREES NORTH starring Don Gilet and Dervla Kirwan, BBC One’s WATERLOO ROAD  starring Jason Merrells and Angela Griffin, both series of BBC One's HOLBY BLUE starring Zoe Lucker and Tim Pigott-Smith, and ITV’s SWEET MEDICINE starring Patricia Hodge, Jason Merrells and Gillian Kearney.
 

Mark is Director of Music at All Saints' Church, Old Isleworth in West London. As Organist and Choirmaster, he is able to indulge his passion for composing and arranging choral music. Further details of this can be found on the COMPOSITIONS page.

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