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.co.uk.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
Robert’s newest choral composition, ‘Alleluia,’ was sung for the first time by Prescot Parish Church Choir on All Saints’ Sunday (5 November).
The meditative work was dedicated to the memory of choir member Gerald Dyson, who passed away in October 2016. It was repeated for an All Souls Requiem Mass the following evening, Monday 6 November, and will feature again in the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert (Thursday 7 December) and in the Eucharist for the Epiphany on Sunday 7 January 2018. Both take place in Prescot Parish Church.
Robert’s ‘Jubilate Deo,’ also composed for the choir, received the latest of several performances on 4 November at the wedding of Karim and Jayne Palant.
Finally, Robert has some conducting engagements coming up. As well as his regular conducting work with St Edward’s College, he waves the baton for the South Liverpool Orchestra Christmas Concert on Tuesday 5 December at 8pm in Liverpool Hope University Chapel, and the Phoenix Concert Orchestra Christmas Concert at The Venue, Huyton, on Sunday 10 December at 2.30pm. All are warmly welcome.
A number of Robert’s compositions have been uploaded to the site over the summer.
In particular, score excerpts and recordings are now online for three 2017 compositions: Resonance, for piano; Flourish, for trumpet; and Alleluia, for SATB choir.
The first of these will be performed on Friday 22 September, as part of Prescot Parish Musicians in Concert. Over an hour of music also features Rob’s piano miniature Addition I (Original), written in 2003, and the solo voice and piano versions of his 2016 sacred works Ave verum corpus and Jubilate Deo.
All are welcome to the concert, which takes place at 7pm at St Mary’s Church, Prescot. Tickets are £5 on the door, and complimentary cake and wine follows. All proceeds go to the parish.