Robert A Howard is an accomplished musician, and regularly in demand as a soloist (bassoon), orchestral player and accompanist (piano). He also plays violin, viola and percussion, and sings bass.
The final night of upcoming Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts will feature two works by the festival’s Founder and Artistic Director, Dr Robert Howard.
Opening on Friday 17 June, the 10-day programme ends on Sunday 26 June with Choral Evensong followed by a Regal Festival Finale.
At Festival Choral Evensong (6pm, Prescot Parish Church), the parish’s own choir, with organist Tim Hall, will perform a new sacred piece, Jubilate Deo, that Robert has composed especially for the occasion.
Written with flexibility, simplicity and singability for younger choristers in mind, the anthem is something of a companion piece to Ave Verum Corpus, written for the choir to premiere on Good Friday, earlier this year. It is dedicated to the Reverend Captain Peter Cowley.
See score excerpts and hear an electronic recording here.
Then, in the finale at 7.30pm, Rob will conduct the South Liverpool Orchestra in a Proms-style programme that includes music by such luminaries of British music as Walton and Elgar.
Among these will be Robert’s four-movement Festival Suite. In form and style, it echoes both Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony and Malcolm Arnold’s dance suites inspired by the various nations making up the British Isles, and it is dedicated to the latter composer in honour of his passing in 2006.
The suite uses material Robert wrote in his youth and later revised or orchestrated, and it was first compiled for and performed by the Knowsley Youth Orchestra, under Simon Gay, in their 2006-2007 season, first at the Conference of British Youth Orchestras, then at the Kirkby Civic Suite, and finally at the third Prescot Festival.
Its movements are:
I) Procession (1995)
II) Dance (1994)
III) Folksong (1993)
IV) Like Clockwork (2003), an homage to Prescot’s clock-making heritage originally commissioned for the KYO
The 12th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts runs from Friday 17 to Sunday 26 June, and full programme information is online at www.prescotfestival.co.uk.
As conductor of the South Liverpool Orchestra since 2011, Robert was delighted to lead them in celebrating their 40th anniversary on 17th May.
The programme at the gala concert featured the best of British composers, including Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar, William Walton and Robert Howard himself.
His 1995 orchestral piece Procession was originally written as an A-level music submission, and was first performed by – and dedicated to – the Wirral Youth Orchestra under conductor Anthony Ridley.
Alan Humphreys captured the occasion on camera, and you can soak up the festive atmosphere yourself by viewing the full album on the SLO Facebook page.
In other composition-related news, the Liverpool division of the Royal School of Church Music recently chose Robert’s Ave Verum Corpus – written for Good Friday 2016 for Prescot Parish Church Choir – as part of the programme for a ‘Come & Sing’ workshop featuring choirs from across the diocese.
Dr Ian Sharp conducted, with George Swift at the organ. The Passiontide anthem, written with flexibility, simplicity and singability in mind, has generated interest from several church choirs.
And in case you missed it, back in March, one of Robert’s older compositions was given new life again in a London performance by the KNM Campus Ensemble of Berlin.
Robert’s 2000 composition Promenade IV was performed on Saturday 5 March at King’s Place, London, as part of the two-day Festival of Contemporary Music for All (CoMA).
The performance took place in the second-level atrium, which was ideally positioned outside several of the rooms being used for workshops, as well as being directly visible from the venue’s main coffee shop and meeting space.
The 10-piece KNM Campus Ensemble from Berlin performed Robert’s flexibly scored piece on three violins, four flutes, bass flute, bass clarinet and keyboard. During the performance, an image of Anthony Caro’s Promenade sculptures which inspired this (nd several other pieces was projected onto the wall above the artists.
The short concert featured two other works, one of which was composed by the ensemble themselves. The 75-strong audience clearly enjoyed all three performances, and afterwards the conductor of the group intimated that Promenade IV was the group’s favourite piece to perform!