Scores Now Available on Sheet Music Plus (& Other News)

Robert Howard’s music is now available to download via Sheet Music Plus, ‘the world’s largest sheet music selection.’ Fourteen choral and piano solo works are already in the collection, and more are being added regularly.

Visit sheetmusicplus.com to browse compositions, preview scores, listen to audio excerpts and purchase sheet music.

Successful Festive Season

Advent and Christmas saw performances of Robert’s compositions, with Prescot Parish Church Choir singing his 2002 carol ‘A Babe Is Born’ on four occasions. Of these, the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert, with an audience of almost 500, is most notable; the event, which Robert helped organise in his capacity as artistic director of the Prescot Festival, raised more than £1,400 for local causes.

Robert also enjoyed several conducting engagements over the festive season, with Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, South Liverpool Orchestra, Phoenix Concert Orchestra, Prescot Parish Church Choir and the three orchestras of St Edward’s College. The LMO concert was a particular highlight, with BBC Radio Merseyside star Roger Phillips appearing to narrate Prokofiev’s much-loved children’s work Peter and the Wolf.

Piano Premiere 6 March

Stephen Mannings will give the first performance of Robert’s 2009 piano piece Rotations on Friday 6 March at Prescot Parish Church. The concert, which starts at 7pm, also features the Gilbert Scott Singers – Liverpool Cathedral’s official youth choir – and Danielle Louise Thomas, the mezzo-soprano known as the ‘Voice of Liverpool’ (pictured). Danielle will sing the solo part in a performance of the beautifully meditative 2017 choral work Alleluia. Visit prescotfestival.co.uk for more details of the concert, including ticket information.

Coming soon: News of other upcoming performances by Prescot Parish Church Choir, South Liverpool Orchestra, Liverpool Cathedral outreach choirs and the Prescot Festival Chorus.

New Harvest Anthem & Other News

Robert Howard’s latest choral composition will have its premiere in Prescot in October 2019.

‘Glory, Love, and Praise, and Honour’ is a setting for SATB choir and organ (or piano) of a text by Charles Wesley, and its theme makes it an ideal anthem for Harvest Festival, although it suits many occasions in the Church year. It is an exuberant, celebratory hymn, march-like, with three verses and a coda.

The choir of Prescot Parish Church will sing it during Sung Eucharist at 10am on Sunday 6 October (St Mary’s, Church Street, L34 1LA), with Tim Hall on the organ and David Kernick conducting. Robert has dedicated it to the Reverend Kimberley Mannings, the Curate of Prescot, who celebrates her 30th birthday in December.

October also sees one of Rob’s sacred vocal works sung by an Oxbridge choir for the first time. The chapel choirs of Cambridge and Oxford universities play a vital role in the history of church music and the English choral tradition, making this performance a particular honour. Selwyn College Chapel Choir, under music director Sarah MacDonald, will sing ‘Jubilate Deo’ (SATB choir and organ/piano) at Choral Evensong on Tuesday 15 October (6.30pm, Selwyn College Chapel, Grange Road, CB3 9DQ). The work, after Psalm 100, was composed for the occasion of Rob’s own wedding to Laura in 2017.

In other news, the hymn ‘Bread of the World’ had its second performance on 27 September at Prescot Parish Church, during a concert celebrating Tim Hall’s 40th anniversary as Parish Organist. Listen below (with thanks to Alan Humphreys for the audio recording). David Kernick, to whose late mother, Jacquie (d. 26 March 2019), the piece is dedicated, conducted the choir of St Mary’s.

Among other vocal and instrumental items on the programme were three of Rob’s own miniatures, with the composer at the piano, as well as his 2018 setting of ‘For Mary, Mother of Our Lord,’ sung by soprano Elizabeth Lyon, again with Rob accompanying on piano.

Update (23 October 2019): The new anthem ‘Glory, Love, and Praise, and Honour’ (see above) will have its second performance on All Saints’ Sunday, during the 10am Eucharist at St Mary’s Prescot, again with David Kernick conducting Prescot Parish Church Choir, accompanied by Tim Hall on the organ.

Howard Premiere: ‘I Gave You Love’ (Good Friday Reproaches)

Robert has once again added to Prescot Parish Church Choir’s repertoire with a composition of his own, ‘I Gave You Love,’ which will be sung during the Final Hour Liturgy (2pm) this Friday, 19 April, at St Mary’s Prescot. It is scored for SATB choir and congregation.

The music, a setting of the traditional Good Friday ‘Reproaches,’ is based on themes from Robert’s earlier motet ‘For Mary, Mother of Our Lord,’ written in 2018 for the same choir. It will dovetail with the anthem ‘Ave verum corpus’ (choir only, 2016). Organist Tim Hall is to accompany both.

Three performances of Robert’s ‘Jubilate Deo’ (2016) at Liverpool Cathedral in January and March were well-received. The last of these, by Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir, took place during the first Liverpool Cathedral Choral Festival Piano Competition on 21 March, of which Robert was a judge. A fourth performance in this majestic venue is on 11 May as part of the cathedral’s Spring Concert, this time with a massed choir comprising Liverpool 64 Community Choir, Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir and Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir.

And finally, the 2015 orchestral work ‘Cortege’ is programmed by the Ormskirk Music Society for 29 June. More details on this, as well as Howard performances at the 15th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts (21-30 June), will follow soon.

Howard Premieres Planned for Advent & Christmas Season

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.

Howard Compositions to Feature in Prescot Festival

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.

US Premiere of Robert Howard’s Ave Verum Corpus

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.

View score samples and listen to excerpts via the Compositions page, or contact the composer about obtaining copies for performance.

New Compositions & Upcoming Concerts

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.

You can hear all these compositions and more on the Choral & Vocal Works page.

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.

Howard choral works to be performed in May, June

May & June promise to be busy months for performances of Dr Robert Howard’s recent choral works.

The first of four performances takes place on Thursday 18 May at St Nicholas’s Church, Sutton, St Helens. The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Liverpool & Isle of Man Branch will feature Robert’s Jubilate Deo as part of a workshop exploring anthems and hymns based on the psalms, including ‘Jubilate.’

Jubilate Deo will also be performed by the 100-strong Prescot Festival Chorus with Parry’s I Was Glad and Rutter’s Magnificat on the second night of the 13th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts at Prescot Parish Church, Prescot, Merseyside.  The massed choir will be conducted by James Luxton from Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral.  James will return in the second half with the Metropolitan Cathedral Girl Choristers in what promises to be an evening of choral bliss.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral, a concert has been organised showcasing a programme of contemporary works by local composers such as Michael Stubbs and James Smith.  Robert’s Jubilate Deo has again been picked to feature as part of this special event, to be held at the Cathedral on Saturday 24th June.

On Sunday 25 June, Prescot Parish Church Choir with organist Tim Hall will premier the revised version of Robert’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis.  This will feature as part of Choral Evensong at Prescot Parish Church on the final day of the town’s 10-day music & arts festival.  The original version featured as part of the 7th Annual Prescot Festival and the invitation to revise the setting came directly from the choristers.

Performances, Premieres & a Birthday Milestone for Robert Howard

Following a string of successful performances of his works at this year’s Prescot Festival – and as he approaches his 40th distinguished year – Robert Howard has several more performances of his compositions in the pipeline.

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The composer himself will be at the piano on Friday 23 September at 7.00pm at Prescot Parish Church, when he plays three of his piano miniatures: Chorale for St Andrews, Still and In Memory. The third of these will be the premiere of the arrangement. You can listen to all three and view score excerpts on the compositions page.

The concert, which also features flautist Laura Bonnett, tenor David Kernick and organist Tim Hall, is a fundraiser for the parish, and tickets are just £5 on the door. Over an hour of music will be followed by cake and wine, included in the admission price.

December 2016 sees Robert in concert with the South Liverpool Orchetra, when he will be soloist in Elgar’s Romance for bassoon and orchestra. The SLO Christmas Concert takes place at Hope University Chapel on Tuesday 6 December at 8pm, and the £4 admission price includes a buffet.

Prescot Parish Church Choir give the first performance of the SATB arrangement of Robert’s 2002 carol A Babe Is Born on Thursday 8 December. Several local church and school choirs also take part in this Christmas concert, held in aid of the Mayor of Prescot’s charities. It starts at 7.00pm at Prescot Parish Church and costs £5 on the door, including refreshments.

Robert also has seasonal conducting engagements with Prescot Parish Church Choir, Phoenix Concert Orchestra and St Edward’s College orchestras throughout December.

And finally, Robert is delighted to announce that his two 2016 sacred choral works, Ave verum corpus and Jubilate Deo, both written for and premiered by Prescot Parish Church Choir, have entered the repertoire of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (Youth) Choir and the choirs of St Edward’s College, Liverpool. Listen to the original performances here.

Photo: Robert Howard conducts the South Liverpool Orchestra with trumpeter Hannah Mackenzie at the 2016 Prescot Festival (Christopher Lyon Photography)

12th Prescot Festival to Showcase Robert A Howard Compositions

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The final night of upcoming Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts will feature two works by the festival’s Founder and Artistic Director, Dr Robert Howard.

Opening on Friday 17 June, the 10-day programme ends on Sunday 26 June with Choral Evensong followed by a Regal Festival Finale.

At Festival Choral Evensong (6pm, Prescot Parish Church), the parish’s own choir, with organist Tim Hall, will perform a new sacred piece, Jubilate Deo, that Robert has composed especially for the occasion.

Written with flexibility, simplicity and singability for younger choristers in mind, the anthem is something of a companion piece to Ave Verum Corpus, written for the choir to premiere on Good Friday, earlier this year. It is dedicated to the Reverend Captain Peter Cowley.

See score excerpts and hear an electronic recording here.

Then, in the finale at 7.30pm, Rob will conduct the South Liverpool Orchestra in a Proms-style programme that includes music by such luminaries of British music as Walton and Elgar.

Among these will be Robert’s four-movement Festival Suite. In form and style, it echoes both Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony and Malcolm Arnold’s dance suites inspired by the various nations making up the British Isles, and it is dedicated to the latter composer in honour of his passing in 2006.

The suite uses material Robert wrote in his youth and later revised or orchestrated, and it was first compiled for and performed by the Knowsley Youth Orchestra, under Simon Gay, in their 2006-2007 season, first at the Conference of British Youth Orchestras, then at the Kirkby Civic Suite, and finally at the third Prescot Festival.

Its movements are:

I) Procession (1995)
II)  Dance (1994)
III) Folksong (1993)
IV) Like Clockwork (2003), an homage to Prescot’s clock-making heritage originally commissioned for the KYO

The 12th Annual Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts runs from Friday 17 to Sunday 26 June, and full programme information is online at www.prescotfestival.co.uk.