Category: Music

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Deep Dive video screenshot

Deep Dive choral music

I’ve done a lot less music since 2017, when I switched from semi-professional conducting to full-time work in a non-musical field. So I’ve been diverting my choral energies elsewhere, creating some in-depth tutorial videos to help beginning choir conductors explore some of the classics of the repertoire.

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Bruges cathedral

Choral evensong in Bruges

The many Christian churches of the Belgian city of Bruges hold an annual massed service in the spectacular Sint-Salvatorskathedraal. In 2019, the Anglican community hosted a service of full choral evensong with more than a thousand people in attendance. I directed it.

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All Saints North Street

The Clerkes’ mass

In the Anglican choral tradition, there are lots of interesting unaccompanied settings of the evening canticles, but very few interesting unaccompanied mass settings. This is my attempt to fill the gap. It was premiered in 2019 by the Clerkes of All Saints, directed by Chris Hamlett.

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Antwerp cathedral

Flemish Evensong Tour

I directed a major choral singing tour in Belgium in 2019. Through public marketing and personal contacts, we assembled a choir of around 40 singers, mostly British, to rehearse and perform in spectacular venues in Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven. The tour was conceived and organised in its entirety over the course of a year by my partner and me, and received overwhelmingly positive feedback in our follow-up questionnaire, including 100% of attendees saying they would recommend it to a friend!

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Clerkes of All Saints

The Clerkes of All Saints

In the UK, I founded and directed the Clerkes of All Saints. We performed high-quality music, mostly in cathedral and church settings. I led the choir for six years, during which time we quickly established ourselves as Yorkshire’s leading liturgical chamber choir and developed a reputation for musical and liturgical excellence. We made our first studio recording in 2013, and were in residence at Gloucester cathedral in 2015.

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Skipton Choral Society

Skipton Choral Society

Skipton Choral Society sings a wide variety of works, large and small, including the traditional repertoire of English choral societies and a lot more besides. Sadly I could only work with them for a couple of years before moving abroad, but it was a very rewarding experience.

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Libricini

Libricini

Libricini is an upper-voice chamber choir based in Norwich, UK. They perform a wide variety of music, much of it very challenging, and rehearse intensively for just two days before each performance. I was fortunate enough to direct the group from 2009 until I moved to Brussels in 2016, during which time we commissioned and premiered several new works.

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South Bank Singers

South Bank Singers

The South Bank Singers is a group of about 30 adults who meet to tackle challenging music in a relaxed atmosphere, and perform at venues around York, UK. I was their founding conductor.

Magic words

This piece sets fragments from two national epic poems of Finland. According to these poems, music — and specifically singing — is not just a form of artistic expression but also a kind of creative magic.

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nativity

Myn lyking

I collaborated with John Morgan, another York-based composer, to put together a set of English carols for the Micklegate Singers in York, UK. The other pieces were arrangements; this was my only original contribution.

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Making Tracks, a painting of King Edward VII steam engine

Two Cornish songs

I composed two settings of texts by Cornish poet Maureen Jackett, my grandmother-in-law. ‘The freedom of Cornwall’ won the 2015 prize for composition at the Cornish Gorsedd, which is not an especially exciting achievement since I believe there were only two other entries.

Micklegate Singers

The Micklegate Singers is an amateur chamber choir, well known in the north of England, specialising in contemporary music and little-known older material. Their regular director is Nick Carter, but I was their Associate Conductor from about 2006 until 2015. This meant that I took rehearsals when their regular conductor was away, as well as directing their Christmas concert every year. I also took over as main conductor in 2012 when their regular director took an extended leave of absence, and led the choir on its first international exchange to Norway in 2013.

Fragments

An upper-voice choir in Norwich, UK, is called ‘Libricini’ after the famous notebooks in which Leonardo da Vinci scribbled various sketches and ideas throughout his life. For the choir’s first tour (to the Yorkshire Dales in 2015), I set some of Leonardo’s scribblings to music.

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Oxfam stewards

Volunteering at festivals

Until 2015, I was a supervisor every summer at one of the UK’s biggest popular music festivals. I managed a team of about 60 volunteer stewards, with frontline responsibility for the safety of thousands of music fans.

Choral music

I’ve conducted choirs and trained singers for more than 20 years. I’ve been lucky to be involved with some very exciting ensembles, ranging from really top-rate chamber choirs (and associated chamber orchestras) to community and youth groups in the north of England.

I also arrange and compose, mostly for choirs, mostly unreliably and inconsistently. Some of what I produce is worth listening to.

Philomela

The poem Philomela, by Richard Pomfret, describes what runs through the mind of an audience member during the fleeting moment after a musical performance ends, but before the applause begins. It was first performed in Oxford in 2010.

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Arlington cemetery

Epitaphs

This suite of four short military epitaphs was commissioned by the British Royal Armouries for thier World War I centenary commemoration on Armistice Day, 2014. It remains my only piece ever to appear on national TV (the BBC played about six seconds of it!).

Irish blessing

The words of the Irish Blessing have had strong emotional value for me ever since I sang a simple setting in my formative years as a teenager in the Halifax Young Singers. I wrote this even simpler setting of my own for a York-based community choir, Soon Amore, sometime in the late 2000s.

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ProvenceSing

ProvenceSing

In 2007, I directed a commercially-organised singing holiday for upper voices in Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence. The week combined choral singing with eating, drinking and soaking up the sun in a beautiful part of southern France. It was a huge success, and indirectly gave birth to an upper-voices workshop choir which I directed for many years afterwards.