As pianist, organist, and one of the first musicians in Canada to employ the Moog and Arp synthesizers in live performance, Mills-Cockell worked in 1968 with Intersystems (a mixed-media group with sculptor Michael Hayden, architect Dick Zander, and poet Blake Parker), in 1969 with Kensington Market, in Vancouver 1969-70 with Hydro-Electric Streetcar, and again in Toronto 1970-2 with Syrinx. The last-named group, completed by Doug Pringle (saxophones), Allan Wells (percussion), and, later, Malcolm Tomlinson (drums and voice), made the LPs Syrinx (TNorth TN-2) and Long Lost Relatives (TNorth TN-5), was seen on TV (eg, the CTV series 'Here Come the Seventies,' playing the theme music on camera, and CBC's Music to See,' in a performance of Mills-Cockell's Stringspace) and performed in concert and clubs locally.
Mills-Cockell lived for most of the period 1972-4 in England, then returned to Toronto, where he has concentrated on the composition and recording of music for film, TV, and theatre. He made three LPs 1973-7: Heartbeat (TNorth TN-12), The Third Testament (TNorth TN-17, of music written in 1973 for a CBC/Time-Life TV series of the same name), and Gateway: A New Music Adventure (Anubis ANX-1).
He subsequently completed scores for the feature films The Clown Murders (1975), Deadly Harvest (1976), Terror Train (1979), and Humongous (1981), for the TV films Maggie and Pierre (1984), Labour of Love (1984), Striker's Mountain (1985), and Half a Lifetime (1985), and for many TV series and documentaries - eg, 'The Stationary Ark' (1975), 'Arc on the Move' (1981), Challenge: the Canadian Rockies (1982), and 'The Little Vampire' (1985). He also has written music for the National Ballet of Canada (January Tree and For Internal Use Only 1971), the Toronto Dance Theatre (Starscape 1971), the Anna Wyman Dance Company (Deflections 1976), and for many theatrical productions - eg, the Toronto Free Theatre's outdoor staging in High Park of A Midsummer Night's Dream (1983), Romeo and Juliet (1986) and The Tempest (1987).
Batten, Jack. 'Alive in Toronto: a genuine Moog Synthesizer,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 6 Jun 1970
MacLaurin, Doug. 'Mills-Cockell's music expressed electronically,' MSc, 258, Mar-Apr 1971
'Composer likes what he does,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 31 Oct 1984
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Music Centre
Search the extensive CMC website for Canadian composer biographies and interviews, music scores, online newsletters, audio clips, podcasts, and more. Check out "CentreStreams" to listen to online archived recordings featuring outstanding Canadian composers.
The website for music composer and sound designer John Mills-Cockell. Featured items include a biography, discography, and audio clips of his compositions.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...