This Tuesday will see the première of my new work for cello and choir, Threnos (2014) performed by the Aberdeen University Chamber Choir, with Peter Davis (cello), conducted by Paul Mealor. This should be a hugely exciting concert with works by Paul and I, and by our post-graduate students: Ed Jones, Gemma McGregor, John Hudson and Tom LaVoy. The concert is in King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen at 19.30.
My first setting of the Evening Service is performed three times this week (which is lovely!) – firstly by the girl’s choir and lay clerks of Ely Cathedral on Monday in evensong, followed by a performance in evensong the day after at Selwyn College, Cambridge by the Chapel Choir. Both conducted by the wonderful Sarah MacDonald. The Choir of St Bride’s, Fleet Street, London perform the work on Sunday conducted by Robert Jones. Alas, I can’t make any of them (it’s quite a jaunt from Aberdeen), but I will be going to the first performance of the Third Service at Ely in December.
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post on Jonathan Harvey in which I gave the briefest of overviews of his career to date, dipping a toe in the water here or there to highlight the odd piece that particularly appealed to me. The piece which I dwelt longest on was the electro-acoustic masterpiece Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, so with Harvey on my mind at the moment I thought I’d put more than my toe in the water this time and throw the rest of my body into this amazing music.
Harvey is a composer whose music has always appealed to me, not in a sort of ‘take-it-to-my-heart’ kind of way, but more that my ears have been tickled by something new, something different and something original. I don’t really know half of the works he composed (unfortunately he died after a long illness in 2012), and certainly nothing from his final years but there are certain key works from throughout his career that are as impressive and as exciting as anything I’ve heard from a British composer in the last forty years. Read more…
There has been another excellent review of Phillip Cooke, Choral Music in this month’s Cathedral Music. The review states ‘Cooke has a distinctive and interesting voice’ and ‘Cooke’s musical style is approachable and, not surprisingly, his profile is in the ascendance.’ Kind Words! PAC
Tomorrow sees the premiere of my new organ piece, Epitaph (2014) performed by celebrated organist Roger Williams at King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen University. The concert, which is part of the 2014 Sound Festival, is at 19.30 and features a new work by my student Peter Relph alongside more standard repertoire. Peter, Roger and I will be in discussion after the concert. The concert is free.
Composer and broadcaster Michael Berkeley (aka Lord Berkeley of Knighton) will be visiting Aberdeen University this week (29-30/10) for a two day visit. Michael will be giving tutorials and a lecture as well as attending a concert of his works (and some by his father) given by the University Contemporary Music Group (of which I am the director). I will be discussing some of these works with Michael during the concert.
November marks the beginning of a busy end to the year with four premieres in the next two months and several regional premieres as well. The month begins with the premiere of my new organ work Epitaph (2014) given by Roger Williams as part of the Sound Festival at the King’s College Chapel in Aberdeen on the 4th. The 10th and 11th has back to back performances of the Evening Service (2009) firstly by the Girls’s Choir and Lay Clerks of Ely Cathedral, then by the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, both conducted by Sarah MacDonald. Sunday the 16th features another performance of the Evening Service this time by the Choir of St Bride’s, Fleet Street, London, conducted by Robert Jones.The month finishes with the premiere of Threnos (2014) my new work for choir and cello, performed by the University Chamber Choir, conducted by Paul Mealor again in the King’s College Chapel at 19.30 on the 24th.
There are many works from the twentieth-century which, perhaps, should not have seen the light of day; perhaps they should have been resigned to the composer’s bottom drawer, substandard and reserved for the executer to decide their fate when future royalties were more important than posthumous reputation. A list of these works would be substantial and exhaustive, a hundred and one pieces sullying the names of many good composers. Some composers would, in fact, have very little to show for a life’s work if they were more discerning with their bottom drawer. However there are a few pieces for which the opposite is definitely true, when a work is far too good to be consigned to a drawer for any length of time, whatever the aesthetic judgement of the composer – Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir is undoubtedly one of those.
It is hard to believe that this work, written in the 1920s, would sit in Martin’s drawer for nearly forty years until after heavy persuasion he released it for publication and performance in 1963. A work of such searing beauty and luminescence should surely have not sat in a drawer gathering dust along with faded sketches for tuba concerti and comic operas (or whatever else composers keep in the bottom drawer) whilst the world was crying out for more sacred masterpieces to rival Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater. Why did he choose to exile his only unaccompanied choral work for so long?
This Sunday (31/08/2014) will see another performance of my Morning Service (Te Deum and Jubilate, 2010-11) given by the St Paul’s Cathedral based female choir Aurora Nova. The performance will take place at the Matins service at 10.15 and will be conducted by Patrick Craig.