Robert has been composing since childhood, and regularly accepts commissions from ensembles, orchestras and choirs - amateur, semi-professional and professional. His pieces, now totalling over 100, have been performed across the UK and as far afield as Denmark, Germany, Colombia, USA and Australia.
Two of Robert Howard’s choral compositions will feature on the programme of this year’s Prescot Festival, of which he is founder and director.
In a concert commemorating 100 years since the end of World War One, the Prescot Festival Chorus will sing Robert’s haunting setting of Ave verum corpus. Either side will be two classic works by Gabriel Fauré, Cantique de Jean Racine and Requiem. In excess of 115 singers are expected to come from across the North West to join the chorus for the concert, which takes place at 7pm on Saturday 16 June at Prescot Parish Church.
In preparation for the occasion, Prescot Parish Church Choir, for whom Ave verum corpus was originally written, sang the piece during the Eucharist on Sunday 13 May. Later the same week, they led the way in singing Robert’s 2017 anthem Alleluia at an RSCM ‘Sing & Sup’ workshop/rehearsal at the Church of St Nicholas, Sutton, under the baton of Dr Ian Sharp.
Prescot Parish Church Choir will then sing the meditative Alleluia as the anthem on Sunday 24 June, at a service of Choral Evensong marking the close of the 2018 Prescot Festival. Canticles are by Richard Shephard (his Song of Mary and Song of Simeon in place of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, respectively). All are welcome to Prescot Parish Church at 6pm. The service is followed by the Proms-style Festival Finale, featuring the Maghull Wind Orchestra.
As well as Ave verum corpus and Alleluia, two more of Robert’s pieces received performances in May 2018. The composer himself played The Clown (1991) and Folk Lament (1994), both early works for solo bassoon, as part of the South Liverpool Orchestra’s concert at St James’s Woolton on 15 May.
Following the successful US premiere of Robert’s Ave verum corpus during Holy Week, several performances of his other works are ahead in May.
Prescot Parish Church Choir will revisit Ave verum corpus during Eucharist at Prescot Parish Church on Sunday 13 May. All are welcome, and entry to the service is, of course, free.
The composer will play some of his own solo bassoon pieces on Tuesday 15 May as part of a concert with the South Liverpool Orchestra, which he conducts. Among them will be his early piece The Clown (listen here). The event starts at 8pm at St James’s Methodist/URC Church on Church Road South, Woolton, Liverpool, L25 7RJ. Tickets are £4 on the door.
Finally, last year’s choral work Alleluia is being sung as part of the RSCM Liverpool Come & Sing at St Nicholas’s Church in Sutton (New Street, St Helens, WA9 3UB) at 7pm on Thursday 17 May. The event takes the form of a workshop rehearsal under conductor Dr Ian Sharp, accompanied by organist George Swift, followed by a short service of worship. It costs £5 to participate, and refreshments are provided afterwards.
Details of other upcoming performances, including at the 14th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts in June, are coming soon.
Soprano Lauren Sprague will give the American premiere of Robert Howard’s ‘Ave verum corpus’ in March 2018.
She will sing it in its version for solo voice and piano/organ at an evening of Holy Thursday Music Offerings on 29 March (Maundy Thursday) at Holy Family Parish Church in Concord, Massachusetts.
Originally written for Prescot Parish Church Choir and dedicated to the Reverend Canon John Taylor, ‘Ave verum corpus’ has received several local performances since it was first heard at St Mary’s Prescot on Good Friday 2016. That original SATB version will be sung again on Saturday 16 June (7pm at Prescot Parish Church) as part of the Prescot Festival, in a programme that also includes Fauré’s Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine. As a ‘Come-and-Sing’ concert, the performance is open to all singers – see www.prescotfestival.co.uk for more information.