2022: The Year So Far

Robert’s year began with an appearance in Twenty Two Voices, a video celebrating Knowsley’s year as the Liverpool City Region’s Borough of Culture. Rob was among 22 people filmed reading a specially commissioned poem by Curtis Watt.

The year has marked Robert’s 45th birthday and also the 25th anniversary of his father’s passing; fittingly, the last nine months have seen performances of several compositions written in memory of Bob and other late friends and family. On 14 January, Stefan Wilkinson-Hill gave the first performance of the piano piece Fragment I (2009, revised 2021, in memory of June Jagger) at St Edward’s College, where he was Head Boy. On 20 March Rob conducted Prescot Parish Choir in Bread of the World (dedicated to the late Jacquie Kernick), and on 15 April, the choir sang his setting of the Good Friday Reproaches, I Gave You Love, written in 2019 and dedicated to the late composer and Liverpool Cathedral organist Noel Rawsthorne. Also at Prescot Parish Church, the following day, David Kernick (tenor) gave the first performance of Rob’s setting of God So Loved the World (2020, dedicated to Bob Howard), and its choral arrangement received a premiere by the Choir of St Peter’s College, Oxford, in the same venue on 1 July.

Robert’s 2016 anthem Jubilate Deo was heard twice in Prescot Parish Church during the summer: On 18 June as part of the Prescot Festival, when it was a joint performance from Liverpool Cathedral’s community choirs (Liverpool 64, Gilbert Scott Singers and Junior Choir), under Ian Wells. To open that concert, the 100-strong Prescot Festival Chorus sang Rob’s For Mary, Mother of Our Lord, also under Ian’s reliable hand. The work was composed in 2018 and dedicated to Rob’s mother, Dorothy. Jubilate Deo was again performed in the church by the Choir of St Peter’s College, Oxford, in July.

June 2022 saw the return of a fully live 10-day Prescot Festival, after an unavoidable hiatus of three years, during which the festival continued in a hybrid online/in-person format. It was a tremendous success, with combined audience numbers of 1,700 equalling the festival’s pre-Covid record. Taking place from 18 to 26 June, this year’s festival was something of a fanfare to herald the July opening of Prescot’s new Shakespeare North Playhouse, a long-anticipated community occasion that Rob had helped to plan as a member of the Prescot Cultural Consortium.

Rob continues to conduct and perform with an array of musical groups across the region, which have continued gradually to resume rehearsals and engagements in the wake of the pandemic. Highlights of the year so far include:

  • Performing at the University of Liverpool’s new Tung Auditorium (as Principal Bassoonist of the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra)
  • Monthly performances with Liverpool Bach Collective (including Evensong at the Prescot Festival)
  • Organising a Prescot Festival fundraiser by Skelmersdale Prize Band
  • Conducting a massed string orchestra in a Concert for Ukraine at Bolton Parish Church in March, raising over £4,000
  • Conducting Liverpool Mozart Orchestra at Princes Road Synagogue, Liverpool, on 27 March, in Raff’s Sinfonietta and Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, as well as preparing the orchestra for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (complete) with soloist Thelma Handy, Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Directing South Liverpool Orchestra on 3 May at All Hallows’ Church, Allerton, in a highly successful Regal Celebration for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; the programme included Rob’s 2015 orchestral tone poem Cortege (dedicated to David Kernick); Rob later conducted SLO in a three-rehearsal study course on Malcolm Arnold’s Symphony No. 5
  • Conducting Phoenix Concert Orchestra in the Prescot Festival finale on 26 June – the ensemble’s first concert since 2019
  • Several concerts conducting the three orchestras of St Edward’s College, including A Night at the Movies on 6 and 7 April, the Year 13 leavers’ concert on 11 May and school summer concert on 6 July; from 11 to 15 July Rob joined the 60 strong Tour Choir in travelling to Barcelona for performances at Montserrat Monastery, Barcelona Cathedral and La Sagrada Familia

Sheet Music Plus remains an effective way of taking Rob’s compositions to a global audience, and as a result, the solo flute piece Flautando has had a performance in Australia, and the carol This Little Babe and violin solo Peasant Song have both been heard in the USA this year. Click here to browse and purchase scores and sheet music for Robert’s compositions.