About John Mills-Cockell

Marigolds, a previously unreleased recording by pioneering Canadian group Syrinx, is one of the outstanding tracks that will be part of the upcoming retrospective: “Pangalactic Performer”, a 3-disc set spanning a decade of Syrinx synthesist John Mills-Cockell’s work, both with the band and on other projects. Video of “Marigolds” by Robert Fantinatto
Nine of John’s albums are being re-released in a collection of works called the JMC Retrospective.
Music Work Magazine has published a comprehensive article by Jessie Locke on John’s long career, “The Astral Excursions of John Mills-Cockell”
Red Bull Music Academy features John and his Intersystems group as part of an extended piece on
“Synthedelia: Psychedelic Electronic Music in the 1960s” in the May 2018 edition.
Here is a link to a recent interview with Robert Fantinatto, the producer of “I Dream of Wires”.
John Mills-Cockell is a electronic composer living in western Canada. He has created scores for The National Arts Centre, Firehall Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre, Glasgow Museum of Art, Vancouver Playhouse,  Phoenix Theatre- University of Victoria, and  Bluebridge Theatre among others. Past commissions include works for the National Ballet, Toronto Dance Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Toronto Repertory Orchestra, St. Lawrence Centre, as well as a great many feature films and shorts by producers in Canada, U.S.A. & the U.K. John is a recipient of many grants and awards during his career as a composer including recognition by Canada Council, Socan and Ontario Arts Council.
John has completed his opera Savitri & Sam with a libretto by distinguished playwright/director Ken Gass.  He is now composing Kid Catastrophe, a ‘new media opera’ with libretto by Québecois novelist/playwright France Ducasse & designer/sculptor Michael Hayden.

JMC Retrospective

The JMC Retrospective was conceived by producer William Blakeney and is a collection of works recorded between 1967 and 1977. It is a series of 9 disks (both cd & vinyl), 3 each for Intersystems, Syrinx and Heartbeat.


reissue December 2015

Intersystems” was the collaborative union of Michael Hayden,installation artist, Blake Parker, poet, the sound artist/composer, John Mills-Cockell and the architectural designer, Dik Zander.  The three album set has been reissued by Alga Marghen and is being distributed by Forced Exposure 

a new release of Syrinx

RVNG has created a beautiful edition of the Syrinx albums

Canadian trio Syrinx , lead by electronic music composer John Mills-Cockell , presents an unusual story. The two instrumental albums that Syrinx issued in the early 1970s sound little like the psychedelic rock music that shaped their Toronto subculture, and more different still from the electronic tape music that Mills-Cockell absorbed as a young composer. Instead, the fortuitous path of Syrinx , and their surprising commercial success, stands apart as a beautiful tangent from the dominant mode of 1970s experimental music.



After the breakup of Syrinx, John Mills-Cockell spent the 1970’s recording for theatre, film and television with top session musicians including Doug Pringle.
His solo electronic works, realized at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, are amongst the first “ambient” releases and have been in circulation on the Internet for decades.
The third stage of jmc retrospective 1967-1977  will include reissues of the popular True North albums “Heartbeat” and “A Third Testament” together with previously unreleased recordings. This recording, known as “Heartbeat”, is to be released early in 2017.

In 1973, JMC moved to London, England with his ARP 2500 synthesizer.  “A Third Testament” with British journalist & commentator Malcolm Muggeridge, and “The Stationary Ark” with zoologist Gerald Durrell) came out of this remarkably creative period.
The “Theme from The Stationary Ark” has the distinction of being one of the first pieces of “fan music” created for the Commodore 64 home computer.
When John returned to Toronto in 1974, he assembled what is referred to as “the Heartbeat Band” with drummer Gordon Philips, a percussionist he had worked with in London.  This ensemble featured a fluid lineup of musicians & singers.
The original “Heartbeat” album included a number of beautiful electronic pieces created for Canadian theatre companies.  These original tapes have been recovered and remastered.
One of the standout compositions from this period was a score created in collaboration with artist Michael Hayden for Vancouver’s Anna Wyman Dance Theatre.   A progressive rock masterpiece, “Neon Accelerando” was featured in a successful concert tour, but never released on vinyl, to the great disappointment of fans.
The music was re-recorded years later at the Mercey Brothers Studio with producer Bart Schoales.   The resulting sides appeared as “Gateway” on Anubis Records in Canada, and as “Neon Accelerando” on the Aura label in the UK.
The advent of punk rock sadly spelled the end of interest in progressive funk rock.  Gateway appeared to be the end of a brilliant recording career, but only for the time being.  John went on to become one of the most sought after composers of soundtracks for the burgeoning Canadian Horror movie industry, as well as many others not so gory.   His score for “Terror Train” remains a classic of the genre.
During this period, JMC also created the music for and appeared with Canadian illusionist Doug Henning.   Other than a Live Album recorded by the CBC at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre,  Gateway was to be John’s last LP for more than a decade.
The Heartbeat reissue will include the entire original Neon Accelerando album, tracks from the lost Syrinx sessions, ambient music from Heartbeat, electronic works from A Third Testament and The Stationary Ark, Gateway and JMC Live in Concert.
A remastered and expanded version of the complete Music from A Third Testament is also planned.

by William Blakeney, producer

Savitri & Sam

Currently in development, SAVITRI & SAM is a full-length opera composed by John Mills-Cockell with libretto by Ken Gass. Ken and John had the opera chosen recently to be performed at Fort Worth Texas through the opera company “Frontiers” program.

“What a fabulous experience with Fort Worth Opera! Everyone in the company was incredibly hospitable and helpful. The musicianship and knowledge of those we worked with was always dependable, superb in fact. In addition to working and performing Savitri & Sam, the opera Ken & I were invited to showcase, we saw excerpts of 5 other totally interesting new works as well as 2 full productions in FWO’s Festival series and 3 short pieces, Brief Encounters. Last but certainly not least, I was able to make this trip with the generous financial assistance of Socan Foundation, for which I am most grateful. Thank you Socan!”

A workshop presentation of 95 minutes from the opera was held at The Citadel (home of Coleman, Lemieux & Co) in September, 2013, starring Zorana Sadiq (Savitri), Michael Barrett (Sam), Marion Newman (Sarindar) and Giles Tompkins (Manjinder), conducted by Gregory Oh and directed by Ken Gass, co-produced by Canadian Rep Theatre and Savitri Project Collective.

A review by Leslie Barcza in Barczablog, called the presentation “a stunning achievement.”

A follow-up workshop presentation is planned for August 2016, with the aim of a full production within the next two years.

Read more…

photo: Jean Wells


John Mills-Cockell has created scores for The National Arts Centre, Firehall Arts Centre, Citadel Theatre, Glasgow Museum of Art, Vancouver Playhouse, University of Victoria Theatre, and  Bluebridge Theatre among others.

“Scoring music for plays, musicals, dance or film is one of my great passions.  I began doing it early in my creative life and have continued ever since.  After I had completed a handful of such works, I began to think that I knew how to do it.  After doing it more, I learned, sometimes by making big mistakes, that each and every score in support of works in any discipline is for the first time.   It is so tempting to assume that one knows how to score a new project having done others that seem similar. It causes great misfortune, because each production is unique.  Every time is the first time! “

Read more…