On Being a Composer – Part II: A Respected Profession?

October 24th, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comFor the second of my trio of blogs on being a composer I thought I’d turn to something that probably affects all composers, and something that I have a serious hang-up about – whether being a composer in 2016 is actually a respected profession? And I’m not going to turn this into some sort of polemic about the perceived ‘usefulness’ or the creative arts, or whether it was better in 1900 or the marginalisation of ‘classical music’ – rather how I feel about writing music, the interactions I have with the wider public and whether there is an understanding and actual respect for the profession of composer today. Read more…

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On Being a Composer – Part I: Professional Jealousy…

October 14th, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comWith there being a reading week at the university where I work I have finally carved out some time from a frenetic start of the academic year to write down a few thoughts, something reflective and practice-based for a change. I’ve recently been mulling over a few things in my head, a few things on what it means to be a composer in 2016 – nothing earth-shattering and certainly nothing about the diminishing role of classical music in society or the post-Brexit artistic wasteland we are heading towards – mainly things to do with how I feel about writing music and the interactions I have in my day-to-day artistic life. I thought I’d try to do three over the next week, some of which may strike a chord (no pun intended) with other composers, some of which may only be pertinent to me. I thought I’d begin with something that is felt be everyone (other than the very few who are pure of soul…) – professional jealousy. Read more…

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Recording Session Photos

October 9th, 2016 No comments

Here are some photos from the recent recording session at St Mary’s Chapel, Blairs, Aberdeenshire. Paul Mealor conducts the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir.


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Burns Arrangement Recording

September 19th, 2016 No comments

SGContemporary01SqNext month sees the recording of my arrangement of Robert Burns’s Green Grow the Rashes, O! (2016) by the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir, conducted by Paul Mealor. The recording is a CD entirely of new Burns arrangements by staff and students of the Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen, including PhD students of mine Edward Rhys Harry and Sarah Rimkus. The recording will be made at the beautiful St Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeenshire and will be released on the university’s own Vox Regis label next year.

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Performances in The Netherlands

September 16th, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comThis autumn will see two performances (including the Dutch premiere) of my Housman setting How clear, how lovely (2010) in the beautiful university town of Leiden. The work will be performed by the choir Het Zingend Hart and conducted by Rob Kapetein.

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On Stainer and Maunder…

August 9th, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comOne of the unexpected joys (and I use that word with some trepidation here) of my summer vacation this year was wading my way through my Grandmother’s hoard of aging choral music, much of it dog-eared and buried deep in various antique bits of furniture – in fact I should qualify this by noting that much of the music was her mother and father’s, so music that was being performed regularly in the 1920s and 30s. That’s not to say it was music written in the 20s and 30s (so no Vaughan Williams and Holst) but music that was still being performed with some regularity in the provinces, particularly in County Durham where my paternal family hail from. Many of the scores bore testament to concerts by long-defunct choral societies and light opera groups and to no-doubt wonderful evenings of amateur music making and revelry in the concert halls and parish churches of Barnard Castle, Darlington and Bishop Auckland. It was like researching a family tree, but through the medium of long-forgotten cantatas and curious operetta – I loved it. Read more…

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Premiere of ‘The Song of Shadows’

June 13th, 2016 No comments

13346663_10153808012816461_5199667551011990386_n 13434908_1183183218393322_2341269231141544675_nHere are some photos of the premiere of The Song of Shadows (2016) which was given by the University of Aberdeen, Marischal Chamber Orchestra, with Kathleen Cronie (soprano) and conducted by Chris Gray. The performance took place in the impressive Sir Duncan Rice library at the university.

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The Month Ahead

May 31st, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comJune is one of the busiest months of the year so far with performances and premières across the country and further afield. The month begins with further performances by The Harry Ensemble of Veni Sponsa Christi (2015) in their Norwegian tour. On the 04 June the Lantern Singers of Elgin will perform How Clear, How Lovely (2010) in Aberlour, this is followed by two performances (in Aberdeen and Glasgow) of my new orchestral song cycle The Song of Shadows (2016) by the University of Aberdeen, Marischal Chamber Orchestra. The Northern Spirit Singers will give another performance of O salutaris Hostia (2008) as part of the Swaledale Festival on the 11 June. The month finishes with two performances of Prayer to St Alban (2016) at St Alban’s Cathedral (18-19 June) and the première of Judas Mercartor Pessimus (2016) at St John’s, Smith Square London by the Gesualdo Six on the 19 June.

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‘O lux beata Trinitas’ on BBC Radio Scotland

May 23rd, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comIt was really nice to hear my setting of O lux beata Trinitas (2013) on BBC Radio Scotland’s Classic Unwrapped yesterday. The recording was taken from the forthcoming CD of the same title by The Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen, conducted by David Smith. The programme can be heard here at about 1.22.00 in (available until 20 June). Two broadcasts on national radio in one day…

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‘O sacrum convivium’ on BBC Radio 3

May 22nd, 2016 No comments

www.phillipcooke.comIt was really nice to hear my setting of O sacrum convivium (2012) on BBC Radio 3’s The Choir earlier today. The recording was taken from the forthcoming CD of the same title by The Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen, conducted by David Smith. The programme can be heard here at about 36 minutes in (available until 20 June).

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