JOHN MCCABE DIES
14 February 2015
The distinguished composer and pianist John McCabe died yesterday, after
a long illness.
McCabe was born in 1939, and studied at the Royal Manchester College of
Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music) and at the Hochschule für Musik, Munich. He successfully
held together a dual career as a concert pianist – his complete Haydn Piano
Sonatas for Decca became a landmark recording – and composing.
His extensive catalogue, numbering more than 200 works, covered almost
every genre, ranging from compositions for large orchestra (among them symphonies and concertos) and full-length
ballets (Edward II, Arthur) through
to chamber music, and particularly piano music. His choral canon included works
with orchestra (the cantata Voyage, a Stabat Mater, Songs of the Garden,
Reflections of a Summer Night), liturgical music and carols, and commissions
from prestigious bodies and performing groups including the BBC, the King’s
Singers, and festivals in Chichester, Norwich, Cork and Harrogate, among others.
His most recent work, Christ’s Nativity, was commissioned by
the Hallé Choir and was premiered in Manchester in December 2014.
McCabe also wrote eleven works for solo organ, of which the most recent
– Esperanza – was commissioned for the Interpretation Competition of the 2011 St
Albans International Organ Festival. The work was inspired by the Chilean miners
who were trapped underground for 69 days following the accident at the Copiapó
McCabe was appointed CBE by Her Majesty The Queen in 1985 for his
services to British music. In 2004 he was honoured with the Incorporated
Society of Musicians’ Distinguished Musician Award in recognition of his ‘outstanding
contribution to British musical life’, and two years later received an Honorary
Doctorate in Music from Liverpool University. Last year he was presented with the
Ivors Classical Music Award.
Obituary in the May/June issue of Choir & Organ.
BRITTEN SINFONIA SUCCESS
10 February 2015
Nesbit, 28, has been selected as the
winner of OPUS 2015, Britten Sinfonia’s open submission scheme for
Applicants were asked to
submit two pre-existing scores together with audio recordings. All applications
were judged ‘blind’ by a panel led by Britten Sinfonia Principal Piano and composer Huw Watkins, and composer Dobrinka Tabakova. From 258 composers, 12 were shortlisted and invited to write a new piece for horn trio, workshopped in January 2015. From these, Nesbit was chosen to compose a full commission for Britten Sinfonia, to be performed in the ensemble's 'At Lunch' series in Norwich, Cambridge and Wigmore Hall, London, during November and December 2015.
This is the third year of
OPUS, which offers a composer who is not represented by a publishing house a
commission to write a work for Britten Sinfonia’s award-winning ‘At Lunch’
Nesbit’s Winter Journey
for organ solo features in the New Music section of the January/February 2015
issue of Choir & Organ.
CHORAL CONDUCTING AWARD
10 February 2015
Gregory Batsleer wins Choral Conducting Award© Eoin Carey
Gregory Batsleer has won the Arts
Foundation Award 2015 for Choral Conducting. The award of £10,000 was presented
by author Jeanette Winterson at a ceremony on 29 January at the 20th Century
Theatre in Notting Hill, London.
The Award is
a first for the Foundation, and reflects the huge increase in community singing
thanks to outreach work by musicians and musical organisations, and its
popularisation through TV programmes.
Batsleer (25) first became involved with choral singing at the age
of nine as a member of the Manchester Boys Choir. He developed his choral
conducting while a student in Princeton, and from 2008, based back in the UK,
he co-founded the Manchester Consort, became director of the Hallé Youth Choir,
and led the Manchester University Chorus. He graduated from the Royal College
of Music in 2012, and is now artistic director of the National Portrait Choir,
the only in-house choir in a UK gallery.
Batsleer commented, ‘For my
entire life choral music has made me tick, made me alert and has basically
become the backbone to who I am. With the Arts Foundation Fellowship I will be
able to give the needed space and dedication to my next stage of development,
find new and further inspirations and give a commitment to learning and
progressing the art of choral conducting.’
up were Isabelle Adams, Victoria Ely and Lee Reynolds, who each received £1,000.
The judges were conductor Ralph Allwood MBE and composers Bob Chilcott and
Foundation was founded by an anonymous donation in 1993 and has since given
over £1.6m to support artists from all areas of the arts. Other awards
presented on 29 January were for Spoken Word, Art in the Elements, Video &
Digital for Performance, Materials Innovation and Arts Producers.
RUSSIAN-THEMED CD WINS GRAMMY
10 February 2015
Conspirare director Craig Hella Johnson receives the GRAMMY award in Los Angeles
At the 57th GRAMMY Awards, the Best
Choral Performance category was won by The Sacred Spirit of Russia, sung by Conspirare and conducted by Craig Hella
Johnson (Harmonia mundi SACD 807526). The CD positions music by Rachmaninoff
alongside that by Alexander Kastalsky and Alexander Grechaninov, and was
described in C&O’s Reviews section as ‘a lovely recording, in immaculate
sound’ (Mar/Apr 2014).
Other CDs shortlisted were:
Für Alte Musik Berlin, Rias Kammerchor & Staats-und Domchor Berlin / René
Jacobs (dir), on Harmonia Mundi
Out Of Darkness
Cathedral Choir / Vivianne Sydnes (dir), on 2L (Lindberg Lyd)
First Choral Symphony; The Mystic Trumpeter
Gritton (s), BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus / Andrew Davis (dir), on Chandos
Dunedin Consort / John Butt (dir), on Linn Records.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus also featured in the awards: their
ASO Media CD of Vaughan Williams
’s Dona nobis pacem
, Symphony no.4 and The Lark
won Best Engineered Album, Classical category, thanks to the
engineering talents of Michael Bishop.
Three Choirs Festival looks to the future
23 January 2015
Three Choirs Festival artistic directors (from left) Geraint Bowen, Adrian Partington and Peter Nardonecopyright Ash Mills
Three Choirs Festival has established a new foundation to help to secure the
future of the festival and open it up for wider participation. The Three Choirs
Foundation, which marks the Festival’s 300th anniversary this year, was
launched on 22 January at a reception in the House of Lords, London, hosted by
Lord Faulkner of Worcester.
Sir Michael Perry, chair of the Three Choirs
Foundation, said that he hoped that the new trust would facilitate some
large-scale commissioning of new works, something for which the Festival has
been known over its three centuries. Other speakers included Dame Felicity
Lott, President of the Three Choirs Festival Society, and mezzo-soprano Sarah
Connolly CBE, who said: ‘I never take for granted an invitation to sing in one
of the three great cathedrals of the Three Choir Festival; indeed my summer
would be incomplete without it. It is an honour to be part of this rich history
of music-making which has given a platform to so many musicians within the last
300 years …The Three Choirs Festival can never be accused of being stuck in a
time warp. It is in the good hands of people who are open to many new ideas
while being aware that audiences still want to hear what they know.’
Gardner OBE, outgoing music director of English National Opera and chief conductor
designate of the Bergen Philharmonic, sent a message which was read on his
behalf by Adrian Partington, current artistic director of the Gloucester Three
Choirs Festival: ‘It was the Three Choirs Festival where, as a chorister, I
took my very first steps into this amazing international community of classical
music. Performing as a youngster alongside the best soloists, the excellent
chorus, and singing new works by international composers, opens the eyes like
nothing else … I want to express
my fullest support for a Foundation which seeks to ensure that choristers of
2115 have the chances I had, and that audiences are still relishing and
celebrating our great British tradition for centuries to come. Without the
experience gained at the Three Choirs Festival, I would not be conducting at
the Coliseum – it’s as simple as that.’
Lay clerks of Gloucester Cathedral, directed
by Adrian Partington, entertained guests with a brief but eclectic programme of
plainsong, Byrd’s Vigilate and Is you is or is you ain’t my baby,
reflecting both the sacred and the secular origins of the Three Choirs
Initiatives to be undertaken by the Three
Choirs Foundation include the support and development of the Three Choirs
Festival Youth Choir, founded in 2010, and the creation of Three Choirs Voices,
a chamber choir drawn from the Festival Chorus. Funding goals include £50k per
annum for bursaries to support the training of cathedral choristers at
Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. www.3Choirs.org/Foundation
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