Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

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…

Categories: Opinion Tags:

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.’

Categories: Opinion Tags:

Review of 2018

January 2nd, 2019 No comments

2018 was a slightly different year for me, still full of successes across my professional life, but one with a very different focus from previous. As a composer, the highlight was the commission, performance, broadcast and recording of Ave Maria, mater Dei a new work commissioned by the Genesis Foundation for The Sixteen. The performance by The Sixteen and the choristers of Eton College, in the chapel at Eton in May was a real highlight, and one that will stay in the memory for a long time. The critical response to the piece has been overwhelmingly positive and I look forward to other choirs trying the piece out in future concerts. Other highlights saw the commission and broadcast of my Fourth Service at this year’s London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, as well as premieres and performances in the USA, Poland, Holland and Ireland.

Read more…
Categories: Opinion Tags:

On Bob Chilcott’s ‘The Shepherd’s Carol’…

December 19th, 2018 No comments

As always, I try to write a festive blog entry every year in the vain hope that it might be the apex of someone’s holiday season; the signal that Christmas has really started, and the festivities can begin. I’m joking. I do it because I love Christmas music and I’m stuck into a pattern of doing this every year. But it gets harder and harder each time to find interesting music to write about, particularly because as time passes I know more and more of the composers who’s pieces I might consider – it becomes harder to be objective. But then I don’t know Bob Chilcott, so I thought I’d write about his lovely The Shepherd’s Carol, one the most beautiful recent carols written for King’s College, Cambridge. Read more…

Categories: Opinion Tags:

New Promo Photos

December 15th, 2018 No comments

I recently had some photos taken of me for a new brochure at the Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen. I’m sort of smiling…


Categories: Opinion Tags:

On Not Writing Music…

November 26th, 2018 No comments

As the year winds its way to a no-doubt unsatisfactory conclusion, it dawned on me that 2018 has been my least productive year as a composer since I was in my mid-teens – all in all I have composed two works in 2018 at a grand total of fifteen minutes of music. And both of those pieces were finished in January during a brief and regrettably unrepeatable period of fecundity which resulted in four works in six weeks! Now, I have a good reason for not composing more, a 90,000 word book which will be in all good bookshops (who am I kidding…’select university libraries’) in 2019 that has curtailed much compositional activity, but it got me thinking about how little I had actually missed the act of composing, how infrequently I had found myself at a piano with the intention of creating something new – surely that shouldn’t be the case for someone who confesses to having the profession of composer? Should I be worried? Read more…

Categories: Opinion Tags:

‘Raising Sparks: James MacMillan at 60’

November 17th, 2018 No comments

The first fruits of my work on James MacMillan (that has taken up much of the past two years) was recently published in the magazine Cathedral Music (the magazine of the Friends of Cathedral Music). It is a light, general interest article, but I hope it gives a good introduction to the man and his music in preparation for his 60 birthday.

Categories: Opinion Tags:

The Music of James MacMillan

March 26th, 2018 No comments

I was very pleased to sign a contract last month with the publisher Boydell & Brewer for my monograph on James MacMillan to be published next year. I have been working on the book for over a year now and hope to have the manuscript finished in September this year. It will be the first book on MacMillan and has the working title of The Music of James MacMillan. Just another 40,000 words to write…

Categories: Opinion Tags:

Review of 2017

January 1st, 2018 No comments

2017 was a good year for me with lots of exciting things happening across my career. It was a year of broadcasts, recordings and performances with the opportunity to work with many new people in interesting new places. I was lucky to be on sabbatical from my academic position for the first six months of the year which meant some concerted work on The Music of James MacMillan which is progressing well, with a 2019 publication date a possibility. I also gave two key-note papers at conferences in York and Warsaw as well as attending the Dutch premiere of Three Partsongs in Leiden in October. I was thrilled to be promoted to senior lecturer at work and have continued to help grow the fantastic Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen. There were performances in Dublin, Krakow, London, Oxford and four different US premieres (which included a competition win). There were three CDs released on which I had pieces, including a number one in the specialist charts by The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford. One of the highlights was the premiere of The Twilight People by the BBC Singers in November, with a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2018. Hopefully 2018 will be just as successful and will also see the end of Brexit! PAC

Categories: Opinion Tags:

On Jan Sandström’s ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’…

December 22nd, 2017 No comments

I try to find something seasonal to write about every festive period, something stimulating and unusual, something that interests me and excites my ears – it gets harder every year. But I soldier on, searching recent programmes and CDs, broadcasts and social media looking for something worth writing about. And this year I nearly gave up (life’s too short to spend that long looking for obscure Christmas carols), I contemplated writing about one of my own but realised quickly that would be a very bad idea. Then I remembered Jan Sandström’s Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (‘Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming’) and I thought I’d write about that. Why not! Read more…

Categories: Opinion Tags: