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Rob Howard (born 1977) hails from Prescot, having attended Evelyn Primary, Prescot School, Knowsley Community College and the Junior Department of the RNCM. Free lessons on bassoon and violin (and later piano) via Knowsley Performing Arts Service enabled Rob to perform with the Knowsley, Wirral and Merseyside Youth Orchestras throughout the 1990s.
He joined Prescot Parish Church Choir aged 7, going on to become Head Chorister (and is now Associate Director). Rob turned down a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, to read Music at Birmingham University and Conservatoire (1995-98; during Simon Rattle’s final three years with the CBSO), studying bassoon with Maria Mealey (Monte Carlo Opera) and conducting with Anthony Ridley (one-time Guest Conductor to the Berlin Philharmonic & Leipzig Gewandhaus, and Rattle’s first conducting tutor). Then followed a Composition MPhil and PhD at Goldsmiths College, University of London (1998-2003) with Philip Cashian, whilst holding a part-time lecture post, and stewarding at the Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms).
Rob then returned home to Merseyside, taking a PGCE in Secondary Music at Edge Hill University. From 2007-13 he was Director of Music at Deyes High School, Maghull. Deyes was renowned for its extra-curricular music provision, performances of musicals, and music tours of London, New York, Paris and Rome. In 2008 the Deyes Gospel Voices reached the final of BBC TV’s Last Choir Standing. In 2013 Rob was appointed to his current post as Assistant Head of Music Faculty at St Edward’s College, Liverpool (becoming Acting Head of Music Faculty in 2020-21), which is also the choir school to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. He has since led the school to a highly successful tour of Paris, performing in Messiaen’s La Trinite and Faure’s La Madeline. Rob conducts three orchestras at St Edward’s: A Junior Orchestra of 70, a Senior Orchestra of 60 and a sixth-form Chamber Orchestra.
To this day Rob has maintained a portfolio career, having composed since childhood, and he has received commissions from soloists and music services, and from Contemporary Music Making for Amateurs (COMA), who regularly programme his music with their regional groups across Britain. His orchestral work The Island (1999) was originally conducted by Marin Alsop (protege of Leonard Bernstein and conductor of the BBC Last Night of the Proms in 2013 and 2015), with the City of London Sinfonia, and later performed at the 2003 Bath International Festival by the Royal Northern Sinfonia. In 2007 Rob’s four movement Festival Suite was commissioned and performed by Knowsley Performing Arts. In 2011 American professional bassoonist Henry Skolnick gave multiple performances of Rob’s La Reproduction Interdite on his USA recital tour, his Promenade IV was toured by the KNM Ensemble of Berlin in 2016, and his Jubilate Deo was performed by the Choir of Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, in 2019.
Rob now regularly conducts and composes for amateur orchestras and choirs, and especially for the annual 10-day Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts which he founded in 2005 (www.prescotfestival.co.uk). The festival was part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture schedule in 2008, and Rob completed a Choral Evensong setting for the 2011 festival. More recently, Rob has composed Flautando for Laura Bonnett, Meditation for organ, for Tim Hall and Ian Tracey, Reclining Figure for himself at the piano, the carol A Babe Is Born, for David Kernick, as well as Ave Verum Corpus, Jubilate Deo, Alleluia and For Mary, Mother of Our Lord for Prescot Parish Church Choir. His choral works entered the repertoire of the choirs of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral in 2017, for its 50th anniversary celebrations and entered the repertoire of the choirs of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in 2018, under Stephen Mannings.
Rob composed Cortege in 2015 for the South Liverpool Orchestra, based at Liverpool Hope University, which he conducts alongside the Phoenix Concert Orchestra and, as guest conductor, the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra.