John Casken was born in 1949 and lives in North Northumberland, whose beautiful, windswept landscape, vast skies, heritage and poetry feature consistently in his work.

He studied at the University of Birmingham before going on to study in Poland, during which time he formed a long association and close friendship with Witold Lutosławski. After lectureships at Birmingham and Durham universities and a period as Research Fellow at Huddersfield Polytechnic, Casken was appointed professor of music at the University of Manchester from 1992 to 2008, a strong connection he retains as Emeritus Professor of Music.

His output includes orchestral works and concertos, two operas, music theatre works, instrumental and chamber music, choral and vocal music and his works have been performed worldwide and in major festivals. From 1990 to 2000 he was Composer-in-Association with Royal Northern Sinfonia. He won the First Britten Award in 1990 for his first opera, Golem; the British Composer Award in 2009 for The Dream of the Rood; and, in 2021, the inaugural Tippett Medal for The Shackled King. In Northumberland he is Chair of Wooler Arts and Artistic Director of Wooler Arts Summer Concerts as well as Music Director of Coquetdale Chamber Choir.