Newsletter 6 – December 2023

Dear friends,

This newsletter brings you my Christmas greetings and a summary of my composing activities over the last twelve months.

So here goes:
Last Christmas saw performances of my Christmas carols in many parts of the world, as well as UK performances of my longer cantatas, O Come EmmanuelA Light in the Stable, and A Feast for Christmas. A highlight for me was a lovely first live performance of a new carol, Sweet Babe, sang she, by the Houston Chamber Choir, conductor Robert Simpson, in Houston, Texas.

In March we were delighted to be at a BBC Singers recording at Maida Vale Studios of my Peace in the World, a magical performance conducted by Grace Rossiter and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in June. Another broadcast, this time on BBC Radio 4, was of Where shall wisdom be found (from O Come Emmanuel), beautifully sung by Ely Cathedral Choir, directed by Sarah MacDonald.

Easter saw several performances of Wondrous Cross, in the UK and the Netherlands, and during this time I was also busy finalizing my choral cantata, Endless Song. Celebrating the joy of singing, this thirty-minute piece was commissioned by the Waltham Singers, conductor Andrew Fardell, and, accompanied by the Maggini String Quartet, was colourfully performed in Great Waltham Church, Essex, in June. Summer also saw at least two performances of A Summer Garland (also originally commissioned by the Waltham Singers), both in different parts of Cambridgeshire. It was also lovely to hear a revival of my anthem He will speak peace (as far as I know, last performed in 1992) by Selwyn College Chapel Choir, director Sarah MacDonald, on Remembrance Sunday in November.

An initiative that has occupied me this year has been arranging popular hymns and worship songs to make anthems for small church choirs. The Colne Edition Prayer and Praise for Choirs series are available as digital downloads (pdfs) and details are here.

Instrumentally, it was great to see revivals of pieces including Dances for Wind Quintet (Ormonde Ensemble, Colchester) North Sea Sketches (Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia, director Helen Hooker) and Suffolk Sketches (Beth Spendlove, solo violin, in Halesworth). And Circus Skills (for various wind instruments with piano, in several books) and Blue Bassoon, have been republished by a new educational music publisher, Clifton Edition.

I’ve also been spending quite a lot of time writing piano pieces recently, and published this year were Aspects of Blue (Editions Musica Ferrum) for intermediate level players, and also two arrangements for Isata Kanneh-Mason’s book Piano Inspiration (ABRSM). Jan and I have continued to add new easy arrangements to the Janet and Alan Bullard Piano Series. And I’ve also written eight hymn-tune preludes for the final two books of the Oxford Hymn Settings for Organists series, due to be published next year.

And finally, I was delighted that my Candle Carol, written during lockdown, was included in Carols for Choirs 6, published in the summer by Oxford University Press. I was lucky to be able to go to the excellent launch concert of the book at Merton College, Oxford recently, and hear a range of new carols and meet some of the composers involved.

Details of all the above pieces and collections are searchable on this website. And, if you’ve read this far, please accept my very best wishes for Christmas and for the New Year!!