Newsletter no. 8 – April 2024

Dear friends,

Welcome to my April 2024 newsletter, which replaces my normal ‘Piece of the Week’ for this week. This one is mainly about keyboard music – piano and organ.

I’ve been busying myself recently writing short piano pieces – titled Nocturnes. This is a project in progress, but you can hear some of the results here: they may be published as a collection in the future. I began writing them in the depths of winter, as an aid to thoughtful and mindful relaxation for the listener and the player, and they are more approachable than some of my pieces, though I hope not too predictable – I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!

Jan and I have added five more arrangements to the Janet and Alan Bullard Piano Series. This is an ever-growing collection of arrangements at easy to intermediate level, designed to complement our Pianoworks series (Oxford University Press). The collection includes songs from the shows, jazz standards, classic pop songs, folk songs, Christmas songs, and radio and film theme tunes. The five new arrangements are Ferry ‘cross the Mersey, Anyone who had a heart, Highland Cathedral, When I’m Sixty-Four, and the Prelude from Charpentier’s Te Deum. All the arrangements in this series are distributed by Sheet Music Plus and Sheet Music Direct, and are available as individual digital downloads. A full list is here, and you can hear them all here.

Publishing in early May are the final two volumes of Oxford Hymn Settings for Organists (popularly known as OHSO). Volume 8 and Volume 9 each contain forty preludes on general hymns (i.e. those that can be used throughout the year), by organ composers from the United States and the United Kingdom – many names well known in the organ world, but some new ones as well. Co-edited by Rebecca Groom te Velde (Stillwater, Oklahoma) and myself, we are pleased to see the books nearing publication, and excited at the diversity of approaches and styles that the books contain. Over the years I’ve contributed preludes to almost every book in the series, and learnt a great deal about writing for the organ in the process. I’ve written four preludes for each of these two new books, based on these hymn-tunes: Abbot’s Leigh, Austria, Londonderry Air, and Martyrdom (in Book 8), Servant Song, Tallis’s Canon, To God be the Glory, and Woodlands (in Book 9).

Since OHSO went to print a few weeks ago, I’ve written three more organ preludes on Lent and Passiontide hymns (Horsley, Pange Lingua, and Song 46) and plan to write some more soon. I don’t know what will happen to these yet, but if any reader is interested in seeing them, please let me know.

And one more of my organ preludes (on Sussex) is included in the collection Be Still for the Presence vol. 1, available here shortly. You can hear a performance of it here.

I’ve got lots of projects for the future, but the one that is occupying some of my time at the is writing a set of Preces and Responses aimed at the choir of my ‘home church’, Lion Walk URC in Colchester. I’m looking forward to the challenge of writing something fairly easy, with flexible scoring, but a little different to the hundreds of settings already out there!

Colne Edition, my own self-publishing company, continues to expand by publishing new pieces and arrangements, and re-issuing older ones. All Colne Edition publications are available, as downloadable pdfs, from Sheet Music Direct and Sheet Music Plus.  Some are also available from JW Pepper as pdfs or printed copies, and most are also available direct to order from Colne Edition. Those published in the last month include:
Welcome Spring – a lighthearted cantata for SATB, optional children’s choir, and piano or string orchestra
String Quartet No. 2
Suffolk Sketches for solo violin (and solo viola soon as well)

Performances coming up soon:
Choristers of Flight: Elysian Singers / Sam Laughton, St Peter’s Eaton Square, London, 25 May, 7.30 pm
Endless Song: Colchester Choral Society / Ian Ray, St Botolph’s Church Colchester, 22 June, 7.30pm
My Song (This Song of Mine): Felicitas / Simon Winters, St John’s Church Epping, 29 June, 7.30pm (first performance of unaccompanied version)
Mr Lear: Vivace Chorus / Jeremy Backhouse / venue to be confirmed , 6 July

I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this newsletter. Any thoughts or suggestions are very welcome. This newsletter also goes out as an email: please do let me know of anyone who might be interested in being added to the mailing list.

Best wishes, Alan