One more announcement - I have been appointed Associate Composer with the BBC Singers starting at the beginning of 2015. You can read the official press release, with my statement, here.
The BBC Singers are currently celebrating their 90th anniversary – which must be a world-beating achievement in the world of radio choruses. I can claim to have been their listener for about 55 years: one of my first musical memories as a small child is the sound of The Daily Service coming out of the radio, tuned to the Home Service, every morning at I think 10.15am. I still remember my 5-year old’s impression of this sound – hymns forthrightly sung down the microphone by a platoon of BBC Singers – as being rather harsh and frightening. Possibly some of the performers pictured (in 1939) were still in action!
Fast forward to 2014 when, I believe, this ensemble is in a golden era. After working under two great Chief Conductors – Stephen Cleobury and now David Hill (both of them bringing perhaps counter-intuitive expertise from the world of boy-treble cathedral music) – their vocal sound has never sounded so warm and cultured, and their approach to the widest-possible repertoire is astounding. Last season, weeks after leading them through an exacting student composer workshop for BBC Proms Inspire, I heard them sing what I think was my favourite concert of the year – a gorgeous programme leading from Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden to Strauss’s Deutsche Motette via Brahms, Reger et al. “Look!” said David Hill, seizing the score of Hugo Wolf’s richly complex Sechs geistliche Lieder when I went backstage to try to congratulate him afterwards, “it’s all in four parts!” He enthusiastically led me through the printed music – I received a valuable harmony-and-counterpoint lesson then and there. I look forward to many more.