Pacey wins competition

Joshua Pacey is the winner of the John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers 2016. His piece, Mary’s Lullaby is a setting for unaccompanied mixed voices of anonymous 14th century Middle English texts. It was the unanimous choice of the panel of judges comprising Dr Christopher Robinson CVO, CBE, Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington and Timothy Rogers. The work, which is being published by Encore Publications, will be performed by the St Cecilia Singers at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester on 28 July 2016.

Joshua is in his final year studying music at Clare College, Cambridge. In September 2016, his will continue his studies at the Royal College of Music, when he begins a Masters course in composition for the screen.

Supporting the Friends of Cathedral Music

Christopher Gower’s new anthem, Tune me, O Lord, has been composed for Professor Peter Toyne CBE, Chairman, and the Friends of Cathedral Music to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of FCM. His beautiful piece for unaccompanied mixed voices with words by Christina Rossetti (1830-94) will be premiered at the Festal Evensong service in Southwark Cathedral on 25 June 2016.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, there will also be new music by Dr June Nixon, the widely respected composer and former Organist and Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne. She has been commissioned by the FCM to write an introit, Praise our God with mirth!, for SATB and organ, setting words by Thomas Campion (1567-1620). It will be premiered at the services being planned to mark the FCM’s Jubilee in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in November 2016.

A newly found manuscript by Gordon Jacob CBE

Following the recent discovery of a manuscript by the English composer Gordon Jacob (1895-1984), a new anthem for harvest, O praise the Lord, was published in September 2015. For years Jacob’s lively choral work has been hidden away in bookshop selling rare and second-hand music. In 2014, John Turner, who is a virtuoso recorder player, purchased a brown paper folder of music containing the composer’s original manuscript and other scores of his piece, when a dealer offered it for sale in their closing down lists. ‘The anthem is an early work by Gordon Jacob,’ said John Turner, ‘written in the year after he won the Arthur Sullivan Prize for Composition at the RCM, and with a few glimpses of his mature style. No doubt his teacher Stanford would have approved of the celebratory and almost Handelian character of the work.’

Tim Rogers, Head of Publishing at Encore Publications, also commented that ‘it’s rare to discover an unpublished piece of music by such an important composer. The anthem is direct and approachable, and adds to the output of a highly trusted British composer, who wrote relatively little church music. We are very grateful of the composer’s widow, Margaret Jacob Hyatt, for permission to publish this exciting anthem.’

RIP John Scott (1956-2015)

John was a truly gifted musician, who always performed with remarkable sensitivity and style. Playing a distinctively broad stylistic range from J.S. Bach to Simon Preston, his technical skills were second to none, engaging the listeners with a real sense of individual personality. His own compositions were imaginative and highly original, often providing a very fresh take on familiar texts. He never did things badly, and he was a caring, thoughtful friend, offering support in many ways. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Jonathan Bielby’s introit, May choirs of angels receive him, was written in memory of John Scott. This piece was first performed at St Thomas Church, New York, in November 2015, and is published by Encore Publications. Similarly, a beautiful, reflective anthem, At each beat of my heart, has now been composed by Randall Svane in John’s memory and is now available.

Svane wins composing competition

Randall Svane was awarded first prize for his St Thomas Service (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) in the 2014 Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Composition Competition. The panel of judges included Sarah Baldock, Judith Bingham, Sarah MacDonald and John Scott. Entries were received from 47 composers in 17 different states, as well as Australia, Canada and the UK.

We are delighted to announce the publication of Randall Svane’s composition, as well as the St Thomas Service by Philip Moore, which as awarded second prize in the same competition. Both of the winning compositions will be sung at Evensong during the 10th anniversary of the Girl Chorister Course to be held at Saint Thomas Church, New York, in Summer 2015.

War and peace anniversaries

2014 marked 100 years since the start of the First World War, while the centenary of its ending will be in 2018. Many performing arts organisations, schools and local communities wish to commemorate the significant milestones in world history and points of remembrance that fall during the period from 2014-18. We have news of a compelling musical work, which will help orchestras to get involved.

The British composer, Bryan Kelly (b. 1934) has composed a dramatic orchestral piece, Lest We Forget, which is inspired by the centenary of the First World War (1914-18). His new work takes a journey from conflict and unrest to reconciliation and peace. The opening section, Omens of War, is scored for woodwind, brass and percussion. It has the character of an aggressive fanfare and involves a marching tune. The calmer, loving second section, Epitaph for Peace, is a passionate elegy, scored for string orchestra. The beautiful tune from the ending is deeply emotional, making a truly lasting impression that would be suitable for a concert or event on the themes of remembrance, commemoration and peace.

Wordsworth conducts Kelly

The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Barry Wordsworth, recorded a complete disc of music by Bryan Kelly in 2014. The recording features Epitaph for Peace, which is the second movement of Lest We Forget. In addition, it contains seasonal music including Kelly’s suite of carols, A Christmas Celebration, together with his Nativity Scenes, both of which make the perfect accompaniment to the festive season. The CD, released on the Heritage label (HTGCD 295) was chosen as a featured album by John Brunning for Classic FM. He described the recording as ‘a lovely collection of bright orchestral tunes by a composer who is well worth discovering.’

Christmas music for orchestras

Everyone knows The Twelve Days of Christmas, but not as rewritten by John Julius Norwich in his delightful correspondence, which record the daily thank-you letters from one increasingly bemused young lady to her unseen admirer. Adam Saunders has composed a new piece for narrator and orchestra, which is based on the spoof book and brings to life all the characters and humorous situations. The first performance was given by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Bell. The colourful has also been recorded by the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland and with Joanna Lumley in the role of narrator.

Following the success of A Christmas Cracker, Thomas Hewitt Jones has composed two new pieces. A Christmas Hamper is packed full of festive treats, beautifully presented in indulgent orchestrations, brimming with sumptuous melodies such as Silent night and O holy night. Christmas Angels is filled with the heavenly sound of Christmas music associated with angels.

Two Hymns from the Royal Wedding

The first two congregational hymns used at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton both have strong Welsh melodies. The thrilling arrangements of Guide me, O thou great Redeemer and Love divine, all loves excelling were made for the ceremonial occasion by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, who conducted the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and HM Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, during the marriage service. This special music is published by Encore Publications and features on the official album (Decca cat. no. 2770662).