Monday, 7 May 2012

A New Collection of Welsh Songs for Elin Manahan Thomas

Since working with Elin Manahan Thomas on the Lazarus recording, I have been writing a set of three Welsh songs for her.  Elin's voice is very special and beautiful and, because I felt I had come to understand something of its deeper qualities, I wanted to try and write something to match it. Elin is an expert in Medieval Languages and accordingly chose three poems by the fourteenth-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym. He is best known for his love songs, and the three songs I have set describe his passion for the married woman Morfudd, taking us from his sensual discovery of Morfudd, to bitter disappointment at being spurned and then on to contentment and deep love at realising that she loves him. Elin is premiering the songs at her recital at Beulah United Reformed Church on Saturday June 2nd. Her accompanist is the wonderful pianist John Reid who, coincidentally, I taught at Charterhouse back in the 1990's!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Classic FM CD of the Week

I am delighted that the new Lazarus Requiem recording has been made CD of the Week on Classic FM. Yesterday, John Suchet played the Elegy for Lazarus and today it will be the Sanctus. It is a great privilege to share my music with the listening public in this way!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Lazarus Requiem CD

Since my last blog, we have been through the very exciting phase of recording the Exeter Philharmonic and Cathedral choirs in Exeter Cathedral, then mixing the CD - and now we are waiting for the official release on April 2nd. The album has turned out beyond my expectations. The two choirs were absolutely magnificent, and the addition of the cathedral organ at the climaxes (played by the great David Davies) has worked a treat. I am delighted that I shall be talking about the work and the recording on Aled Jones's show on Radio 3 at 5.00 pm on Easter Day. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Recording Lazarus Requiem in Exeter Cathedral

The recording of the Lazarus Requiem reaches its climax tonight and tomorrow night when we overdub the choirs in Exeter Cathedral. I rehearsed the Exeter Philharmonic Choir last night and they are raring to go! It was great to have the tenors and basses bolstered by the cathedral lay clerks - what a great bunch of guys. I have been nothing short of overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity and support of the Philharmonic Choir members. They made me feel at home from the word go, and they have prepared the music with such a sense of commitment. I have every confidence that they are going to deliver everything I had hoped for on this recording.  I must also thank Andrew Millington (the Director of both the Cathedral and Philharmonic Choirs) for handing over the baton and for becoming a good friend of both myself and my music. David Davis (the Assistant Director of Music) will be adding the new organ part later this evening.  He too has been an invaluable support as accompanist through all the rehearsals. What a great player!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lazarus recording begins

Well, today we begin recording the Lazarus Requiem and I am so excited! It's seven years now since I completed the work, and finally we are beginning the process of getting it on to a CD. I am shortly to take the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and then it will be straight to the recording venue to meet up with Andrew Mellor (the excellent engineer from Floating Earth). Later in the afternoon, I plan to have an hour's session with the two soprano soloists - Elin Manahan Thomas and Rachael Lloyd - so that we are focused on the sort of sound we want. Becasue they sing mainly with the cathedral choir in the six tableaux, I don't want this to be too 'operatic' but more pure and ethereal. There is one  three-hour session this evening during which we will record the big duet between Elin and Rachael - the Lux Aeterna. Tomorrow, Thomas Walker will take part in the sessions.  He sang the role of Christ at the premiere and suits it so perfectly! It will be great to see him again. I am  also really looking forward to meeting and working with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year - New Ventures

A very happy new year to all of my followers and friends! I'm feeling very optimistic about 2012, not only because the Lazarus Requiem is to be recorded at last - but also because I seem to be working at a high level of creativity.  In particular, I want to produce more choral music, and there are already the seeds of ideas for new Christmas and Easter works. A Blue in Blue mark two is also on the cards. Two highlights of the year are going to be the performance of the Lazarus Requiem in Exeter Cathedral on March 17th and the UK premiere of my Te Deum in Rochester Cathedral on November 3rd.