Author Archive

On Forgetting How to Write Music…

October 1st, 2019 No comments

About a year ago I wrote a blog entry entitled ‘On Not Writing Music’ where I discussed how little music I had written that year and how strange it was for a ‘professional’ composer not to be composing. And I was left wondering how and when I would get back on the compositional horse. It was a classic. Well, it wasn’t, but it generated some discussion and got me thinking about the process of writing music and when I might look forward to creating something new again. Well, fast-forward to the tail-end of 2019 and I have recently tried to mount that horse and I can tell you neither me nor the horse is currently enjoying this ride (I am however, enjoying this horse-riding analogy), so I thought it a good opportunity to write down my thoughts again before they race off to the next hurdle (I’m quite good at this…). Read more…

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The Month Ahead

September 15th, 2019 No comments

Autumn is a busy time for performances and premieres across the world (and it isn’t that often I can say that!). The 22 September sees the American premiere of my song cycle Lakesongs (2011) by Ellen Scholl, Matthew McBride-Daline and Kevin Bylsma in Toledo, Ohio with further performances in October. The 05 October sees a further Dutch performance of the Fourth Service (2018) by the Schola Liturgica Leeuwarden and Geke Bruining. The 06 October is an amazing day with three world premieres: Capella Nova will give the first performance of Ave regina caelorum (2019) in Aberdeen, the Novantae Singers will give the premiere of Salve Regina (2019) as part of The Cumnock Tryst and Douglasville First United Methodist Church Choir will give the premiere of When in Our Music (2019) in Georgia, USA. The month finishes with the world premiere of a new song cycle Thistles and Roses (2019) by baritone Jeremy Huw Williams in Quebec, Canada on the 25 October.

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‘Fourth Service’ in The Netherlands

September 7th, 2019 No comments

It was really nice to hear that the Schola Liturgica Leeuwarden will be giving the Dutch premiere of my Fourth Service [St Pancras] this Sunday (08/09) at the Grote Of Jacobijner Kerk, Leeuwarden, conducted by Geke Bruining. It’s been great to see so many performances of this work in the 18 months since its premiere, and fantastic to see it cross the North Sea to Holland. This is the fifth choir from the Netherlands to perform my music in the past three years.

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Book launches in Edinburgh, Cumnock and Aberdeen

August 12th, 2019 No comments

This week I will be taking part in the first of three book launches for The Music of James MacMillan at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Edinburgh – further book launches will take place at The Cumnock Tryst in October and at the SOUND festival in November. The book launch this week will feature an interview between MacMillan and I as well as a general Q&A.

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‘There is no rose’ published by Music Sales

July 27th, 2019 No comments

It was really nice to see my carol There is no rose (2013) available as a separate publication from Music Sales. This is one of my most performed works and is now available to purchase here.

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The Music of James MacMillan

June 9th, 2019 No comments

I recently received my copies of The Music of James MacMillan and they look amazing! It was a strangely overwhelming experience leafing through the book, something that I had first imagined back in 2006 and had spent the past two years intensely working on. It will take a while to sink in, but I’m going to put it in my top five things I’m proudest of producing. Obviously my children are the top two. Obviously…! The book is published on the 21 June and is available from all good bookshops. There will be launch events in Edinburgh, Cumnock and Aberdeen later this year.

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On The London Festival of Contemporary Church Music…

May 6th, 2019 No comments

I’m going to begin this with an admission: I’m not a very collaborative composer – some composers are, and I admire them for that – but I am not. As I approach my fortieth year I think I’ve collaborated with poets, librettists, directors or producers at maximum 10 times, and have never struck up a lasting collaboration that has resulted in multiple pieces or projects. That’s not to say that it wasn’t fun whilst it lasted, but most of the time I work in a solitary fashion, except from my twin companions: university admin and noise from children. Maybe it will happen one day, and I’ll find my Hofmannsthal or Da Ponte, but for the moment I’m happy in my lonely travails. Read more…

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The Month Ahead

April 28th, 2019 No comments

There are various performances of my work taking place in May and June, particularly as part of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. On the 11 May Il Suono will perform Invocation (2010) with the trumpeter from the work’s first performance, Simon Desbruslais in Hampstead with a performance of my organ work Exsultet (2014) the following day at St Pancras Church. On the 19th Eton College Choir will perform the work I wrote for them in 2012, Second Service [Eton College] as well as the English premiere of Locus iste (2017). The Harry Ensemble will tour two works of mine, Nunc Dimittis (2017) and Dream Tryst (2018) to Iceland on the 25-27 May. This period ends with the English premiere of The Twilight People (2017) in Oxford on the 15 June given by Jubilate, conducted by James Potter.

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The Month Ahead

January 30th, 2019 No comments

There are a few performances of my music taking place in the next month, beginning with the Scottish premiere of Two de la Mare Songs (2012) in Aberdeen on the 30 January. Jillian Bain Christie (who gave the Scottish premiere of Lakesongs last year) will be accompanied by Ben Marsden. On the 27 February the university chapel choir will give the Scottish premiere of my recent Fourth Service (2018). Looking further ahead will see a further performance of the Fourth Service in Dundee, the UK premiere of For He is Our Peace (2016) in London, the premiere of Dream Tryst (2018) in Canterbury and performances of Green Grow the Rashes, O! (2016), Ave verum corpus (2008), Invocation (2010), Second Service (2012) and the English premiere of Locus iste (2017).

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Excellent Reviews of ‘Star of Heaven’

January 9th, 2019 No comments

The reviews of Star of Heaven have been unanimously good, and the kind words about my work Ave Maria, mater Dei have been overwhelmingly positive. Recent reviews have
seen the BBC Music Magazine referring to ‘Phillip Cooke’s…Ave Maria, mater Dei is enticingly ethereal thanks to a pair of off-stage trebles intensifying its incantatory allure’ and The Gramophone stating ‘a particularly sumptuous setting by Phillip Cooke where two offstage sopranos swirl around a wonderfully atmospheric and transportive choral texture.’

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