New Solo Arrangement to Premiere Good Friday

A new arrangement of Robert Howard’s ‘Ave verum corpus’ is to be performed on Good Friday, 14 April 2017, at Prescot Parish Church.

The work was composed for SATB choir and first sung in its full choral version on Good Friday 2016, by Prescot Parish Church Choir.  Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King Choir later sang it during Mass at the cathedral with St Edward’s College.

Tenor David Kernick will sing the new solo voice arrangement at 1pm on Friday, with Tim Hall at the organ.

All are welcome to attend some or all of the services, which begin at 12 noon, 1pm (with vocal quartet items) and 2pm (with Prescot Parish Church Choir). The address is Church Street, Prescot, L34 1LA.

Howard Anthem to Feature in Met Cathedral Anniversary Concert

Robert Howard’s ‘Jubilate Deo’ will be sung as part of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King’s 50th anniversary celebrations later this year.

The performance takes place in the cathedral on Saturday 24 June at 7.30pm, with the Cantata Choir, directed by James Luxton, the cathedral’s Deputy Director of Music. The piece was originally written in 2016 for Prescot Parish Church Choir.

The concert, marking five decades since the completion and consecration of the magnificent modern building, includes works by Mendelssohn and Beethoven, as well as other contemporary composers.

Robert enjoys a growing musical relationship with the Catholic cathedral. He is Assistant Head of Music Faculty at St Edward’s College, Liverpool, official school to the Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, and the cathedral’s Youth Choir performed his ‘Ave verum corpus’ at a Mass earlier this year.

Visit liverpoolmetrocathedral.org.uk to find out more about the cathedral and this year’s celebrations and cathedralconcerts.org.uk for more about 24 June’s concert and other upcoming events.

Latest about Composer & Conductor Robert Howard

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January was a busy month for Robert, packed with 40th birthday celebrations with friends, family, colleagues and fellow musicians.

Rob recently had the privilege of conducting the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra in rehearsal for the first time, as they prepared for their 11 February concert featuring Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas overture.

On Sunday 12 February, the new Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Youth Choir sing Robert’s choral composition Ave verum corpus, under director James Luxton. Written for Prescot Parish Church Choir and first performed by them in Holy Week 2016, this setting of the traditional Latin text forms part of a mass at 7pm in the Metropolitan Cathedral Crypt. (Visit the Choral & Vocal Works section to listen to an electronic recording of the work.)

Finally, please join Robert and MD Jill Hyde at St Barnabas’s Church, Liverpool, as they conduct the Phoenix Concert Orchestra in An Evening at the Movies on Saturday 18 March. It starts at 7.30pm, and tickets are £6 on the door.

Pictured: Dinner with Basil, Sybil and Manuel as part of the Faulty Towers Dining Experience was a particular highlight of Rob’s 40th year so far!

‘Exceptional Service’ Award for Robert Howard

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Dr Robert Howard has received a national award for his achievements with the Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts.

Rob founded the festival in 2005 and remains its artistic director over a decade later. Having begun as a weekend event, it now runs to 10 days every June and showcases an array of musical, artistic and cultural talent from the local community, the North West region and beyond.

In recognition of his pioneering work, BAFA, the British Arts Festival Association, has presented him with the Exceptional Service Award 2016. Announced at BAFA’s November 2016 conference in Hull, the certificate was officially presented to Rob in person during the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert on 8 December.

(On an a related note, that concert, which is organised annually by the Prescot Festival, attracted a record 420 people and raised over £1,100 for local charities. Local school, church and community choirs were joined by Brassworks Quintet for the lively family occasion.)

Picture: Revd John Taylor, Vicar of Prescot, presents Robert with his award

 

Upcoming Christmas Engagements

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Dr Robert Howard will be playing Elgar’s Romance (for bassoon and orchestra) this Tuesday, 6 December, with the South Liverpool Orchestra. The Christmas concert also features the music of Dvorak, Wagner and Vaughan Williams, as well as festive carols. It takes place at Hope University Chapel, Hope Park, L16 9JD, at 8pm, and costs £4 on the door. A delicious buffet is included.

Today (Sunday 4 December) saw a successful performance of Robert’s carol A Babe Is Born, by Prescot Parish Church Choir. They sing it again this Thursday night (8 December) as part of the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert, at 8pm at St Mary’s Church, Prescot. Tickets are £5 on the door, and children are free with an accompanying adult.

The choir sing it for the third and final time at the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday 18 December at 6.30pm, again at St Mary’s.

Photo by Alan Humphreys

Summer News You May Have Missed!

Robert conducts the Phoenix Concert Orchestra on tour in Vendée, France

Summer 2016 was an eventful one for Robert Howard.

His 2015 orchestral work Cortege, dedicated to David Kernick, was rehearsed in a workshop session by the 70-strong Uppingham Summer School Orchestra in Rutland, East Midlands, last August. The run-through was ably led by professional conductor Wyn Davies, Director of Music at New Zealand Opera.

Also in August, Robert conducted the Phoenix Concert Orchestra on a tour of the Vendée department of France, in two concerts of light music and selections from films and musicals. The first concert was outdoors in the artisan village of Sallertaine, as part of the Nocturnes Festival (pictured), while the second was at the Le Dix theatre in Nantes. Rob was joined by fellow conductor Jill Hyde, and both performances were well attended and enthusiastically received.

Howard’s Ave verum corpus at Liverpool Met Cathedral

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Robert Howard’s 2016 choral work Ave verum corpus is to be sung at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King this October.

The Cathedral Choir will perform the work under the baton of director Dr Christopher McElroy, with James Luxton at the organ, as part of the St Edward’s College Mass at 11am on Sunday 16 October. This annual service typically attracts the cathedral’s biggest congregation of the year, with about 2,000 in attendance.

Ave verum corpus was first sung by Prescot Parish Church Choir on Good Friday 2016. Listen to that recording – and Sibelius recordings of it and its companion piece Jubilate Deo’s arrangements for solo voice and organ/piano – on the Choral & Vocal Works page.

Photo: Timothy Dutton (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons)

Prescot Parish Concert Features 2002 RA Howard Composition

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Robert Howard will perform his own 2002 solo bassoon work La Reproduction Interdite this Friday, 23 September.

The 75-minute concert also features pieces by Puccini, Schubert, Fauré and others, performed by Prescot musicians Tim Hall (organ), Laura Bonnett (flute), David Kernick (tenor) and Robert himself, on bassoon and piano.

Parish Musicians in Concert starts at 7pm at Prescot Parish Church, and tickets are just £5 on the door. Entry includes complimentary cake and wine. All proceeds go towards parish funds.

You can hear an earlier recording of Howard’s La Reproduction Interdite on the solo compositions page.

Performances, Premieres & a Birthday Milestone for Robert Howard

Following a string of successful performances of his works at this year’s Prescot Festival – and as he approaches his 40th distinguished year – Robert Howard has several more performances of his compositions in the pipeline.

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The composer himself will be at the piano on Friday 23 September at 7.00pm at Prescot Parish Church, when he plays three of his piano miniatures: Chorale for St Andrews, Still and In Memory. The third of these will be the premiere of the arrangement. You can listen to all three and view score excerpts on the compositions page.

The concert, which also features flautist Laura Bonnett, tenor David Kernick and organist Tim Hall, is a fundraiser for the parish, and tickets are just £5 on the door. Over an hour of music will be followed by cake and wine, included in the admission price.

December 2016 sees Robert in concert with the South Liverpool Orchetra, when he will be soloist in Elgar’s Romance for bassoon and orchestra. The SLO Christmas Concert takes place at Hope University Chapel on Tuesday 6 December at 8pm, and the £4 admission price includes a buffet.

Prescot Parish Church Choir give the first performance of the SATB arrangement of Robert’s 2002 carol A Babe Is Born on Thursday 8 December. Several local church and school choirs also take part in this Christmas concert, held in aid of the Mayor of Prescot’s charities. It starts at 7.00pm at Prescot Parish Church and costs £5 on the door, including refreshments.

Robert also has seasonal conducting engagements with Prescot Parish Church Choir, Phoenix Concert Orchestra and St Edward’s College orchestras throughout December.

And finally, Robert is delighted to announce that his two 2016 sacred choral works, Ave verum corpus and Jubilate Deo, both written for and premiered by Prescot Parish Church Choir, have entered the repertoire of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (Youth) Choir and the choirs of St Edward’s College, Liverpool. Listen to the original performances here.

Photo: Robert Howard conducts the South Liverpool Orchestra with trumpeter Hannah Mackenzie at the 2016 Prescot Festival (Christopher Lyon Photography)

12th Prescot Festival to Showcase Robert A Howard Compositions

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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.