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 enjoyed over 250 performances across the UK and as far afield as Denmark, Germany, Colombia, USA and Australia.
Robert was delighted with the stirring performance of his Magnificat and Nunc dimittis given by Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir at Evensong on Saturday 24 November. The choristers of St Mary’s Prescot, for whom the setting was originally written, attended and were given a warm welcome by the presiding priest and the cathedral’s Director of Choral Outreach, Stephen Mannings, who recently joined the bass section at Prescot.
On Tuesday 4 December, Robert will accompany his wife, Laura Howard, as she sings two of his Christmas carols. The first will be the premiere of Once in Royal David’s City, in its flexible version; the second is A Babe Is Born. The occasion is the South Liverpool Orchestra Christmas Concert at 8pm in St James’s Methodist & United Reformed Church on Church Road South, Woolton, L25 7RJ. Tickets are £4 on the door, which includes a post-concert buffet and drinks. See www.south-liverpool-orchestra.
On Thursday 6 December, the full choral version of Once in Royal David’s City will be sung for the first time by Prescot Parish Church Choir, under the baton of David Kernick and with the composer at the piano. A quintet from Allerton Brass and several community and school choirs complete the programme for the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert, which takes place from 7pm to 8.15pm in Prescot Parish Church, Church Street, L34 1LA. Tickets are just £5 on the door, including festive refreshments, and children under 16 are free with a paying adult. See www.prescotfestival.co.uk.
Prescot Parish Church Choir will sing Rob’s setting of For Mary, Mother of Our Lord at their Sung Eucharist on Sunday 23 December at 10am (Fourth Sunday of Advent) and will sing Once in Royal David’s City a second time, at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, Monday 24 December, at 11.30pm.
November 2018 sees several performances of Robert Howard’s music in Merseyside.
On Friday 16 November, the composer will give the premiere of his own piano miniatures, Intrada (1995) and Prelude in C (1992), at a private engagement at Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, Wales. This follows successful premieres of other earlier works at Prescot Parish Church in September: Piano miniatures Pastoral Intermezzo and Prelude in F (both 1993), and Pierrot (1992), for solo bassoon. The occasion will also feature a first performance of Robert’s setting of the carol Once in Royal David’s City, with Laura Howard (alto) and David Kernick (tenor).
On Saturday 17 November, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra play his 2015 Cortège, in a Remembrance programme also featuring pieces by Butterworth, Ravel, Beethoven and Vaughan Williams. The concert starts at 7.30pm at the Capstone Theatre (Liverpool Hope University, Shaw Street, Liverpool, L6 1HP), and tickets are £15 (senior citizens £13.50, 17+ in full-time education £5, u16s free). See www.livemozart.com for more information and to buy tickets.
And finally, Stephen Mannings will conduct Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir in Robert Howard’s Magnificat & Nunc dimittis at Evensong on Saturday 24 November at 3pm in Liverpool Cathedral. Although Robert’s choral works have been heard at the neighbouring Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, this marks the first performance of a Howard composition at the Anglican Cathedral. All are welcome to this service of worship (free entry).
Two of Robert’s choral compositions featured in this year’s Prescot Festival, with the 2016 setting of the Ave verum corpus receiving a performance by a massed choir of an unprecedented 120 singers from across the North West on 16 June. (Pictured. Photo: Alan Humphreys)
Alleluia, written in memory of Gerald Dyson in 2017, was the anthem for Festival Choral Evensong, closing the 10-day event on Sunday 24 June. Gerald was a long-time member of Prescot Parish Church Choir, who sang the piece accompanied by parish organist Tim Hall.
The festival, which Rob founded in 2005 and continues to direct, was a great success, welcoming over 1,600 people to a series of concerts and arts events in venues throughout Prescot and Whiston.
Performances & Premieres Ahead
More performances of Robert’s works are lined up for later this year. His new anthem For Mary, Mother of Our Lord will receive its first performance on Sunday 9 September in Prescot Parish Church, during the 10.30am Eucharist. It has been composed especially for the occasion of the 2018 Patronal Festival and dedicated to the church and to the composer’s own mother, Dorothy Howard.
The trebles of Prescot Parish Church Choir sing Jubilate Deo at Parish Musicians in Concert on Friday 21 September at 7pm in Prescot Parish Church. The concert will also see premieres of three early works by Robert Howard: piano miniatures Pastoral Intermezzo and Prelude in F (both 1993), and Pierrot (1992), for solo bassoon; each piece will be played by the composer himself. For just £5 on the door (u16s free with a paying adult), audiences will enjoy about 75 minutes of music from organist Tim Hall and soloists, followed by complimentary cake and wine.
On 6 October St Helens Choral Society will perform three of Rob’s motets – Ave Verum Corpus, Alleluia and Jubilate Deo. The concert, entitled ‘O Radiant Dawn – A Celebration of 20th & 21st Century Choral Music’ and conducted by Stephen Newlove, will take place at St Thomas’s Church in St Helens (Peter Street, WA10 2EB – please note the change of venue from that advertised earlier) at 7.30pm. Call 01695 625500 for ticket reservations or email email@example.com. The cost is £10, or £1 for students.
Then on 17 November, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra will feature Robert’s 2015 work Cortege as part of a WWI remembrance concert in Liverpool’s Capstone Theatre.