Gary Yershon


Garyʼs career composing music for drama spans more than 40 years and encompasses scores for the leading UK theatre companies, West End and Broadway productions, radio, television and film.

He was born in London in 1954. After graduating from Hull University, where he read Music and Drama, he sustained a career as an actor-musician until 1991, when he gave up the limelight to focus primarily on composing. His theatre scores include many for the Royal Shakespeare Company, including two productions each of As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale; the National Theatre, where his worked ranged from Congreve’s The Way of the World to Sam Sheperd’s Buried Child; the West End, including the English-language premières of Yasmina Reza’s hit plays Art, The Unexpected Man, Life x 3 and God of Carnage; and Broadway, where he received a Drama Desk nomination for The Norman Conquests. He is an Associate Artist of the RSC and The Old Vic.

His film work has been for Mike Leigh. Their collaboration began with Topsy-Turvy, on which Gary was musical director. Then came the scores for Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year (gaining Gary a nomination as European Film Award Best Composer), the short film A Running Jump, part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad; and Mr Turner, for which Gary was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award, an ASCAP Composer’s Choice award, and an Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Gary has composed for BBC radio since 1979, beginning as a singer-songwriter for Radio 4’s Midweek. Since then he has provided scores for many plays, including The OdysseySir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Theban Plays, The Eve of St Agnes, Three Men in a Boat, and the Sony award winning Autumn Journal. For Radio 3 he translated and dramatised Pushkin’s Ruslan and Lyudmila, and contributed a new work, Orwell on Kipling, for The Verb.

His previous scores for dance are Get a Move On (1994), choreographed by Jonathan Lunn at the New Performance Gallery, San Francisco; and Ma Vie En Rose (2007) choreographed by Ayse Tashkiran, directed by Pete Harris, at the Young Vic, London.

TV work ranges from detective drama (Trial and Retribution IX & X) to three children’s cartoon series (James the Cat, Painted Tails, Ebb and Flo) with the animator Kate Canning.

In addition to curating and presenting the Oscar® Scores series at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, Gary is currently working on an opera, a puppet-play, a film, and a book.

Photo Manuel Harlan