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.

South Liverpool Orchestra Celebrates 40 Years of Music-Making

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As conductor of the South Liverpool Orchestra since 2011, Robert was delighted to lead them in celebrating their 40th anniversary on 17th May.

The programme at the gala concert featured the best of British composers, including Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar, William Walton and Robert Howard himself.

His 1995 orchestral piece Procession was originally written as an A-level music submission, and was first performed by – and dedicated to – the Wirral Youth Orchestra under conductor Anthony Ridley.

Alan Humphreys captured the occasion on camera, and you can soak up the festive atmosphere yourself by viewing the full album on the SLO Facebook page.

In other composition-related news, the Liverpool division of the Royal School of Church Music recently chose Robert’s Ave Verum Corpus – written for Good Friday 2016 for Prescot Parish Church Choir – as part of the programme for a ‘Come & Sing’ workshop featuring choirs from across the diocese.

Dr Ian Sharp conducted, with George Swift at the organ. The Passiontide anthem, written with flexibility, simplicity and singability in mind, has generated interest from several church choirs.

And in case you missed it, back in March, one of Robert’s older compositions was given new life again in a London performance by the KNM Campus Ensemble of Berlin.

London Performance of Howard’s Promenade IV

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The KNM Campus Ensemble are performing Robert Howard’s 2000 flexibly scored piece Promenade IV on Saturday 5 March at King’s Palace Concert Venue in King’s Cross, London.

The ensemble hail from Berlin, Germany, and are taking part in the concert as part of the Festival of Contemporary Music for All. The programme features several works inspired by images, to be performed alongside a projected display.

Robert gained inspiration from the Promenade sculptures of Anthony Caro (1996), currently on display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The artwork inspired several companion pieces, forming part of his PhD thesis (2003).

A recording of the performance will be among the first to be uploaded to a newly relaunched CoMA website. The score was originally published in Forum London Composer’s Millennium Pack 2000, and will be republished in a future volume of CoMA’s Open Score.

Click here to view or download the flyer (PDF) for the event, and click here for an earlier recording and sample page from the newly typeset copy of the Promenade IV score. More information about the concert on 5 March is online at kingsplace.co.uk.

A Babe Is Born: New Arrangement Receives Premiere

Thursday 10 December saw the premiere of Robert Howard’s new arrangement of his 2002 Christmas carol ‘A Babe Is Born.’

The performance, by tenor David Kernick (pictured), with the composer at the piano, took place at St Mary’s Church, Prescot, as part of the Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert.

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More than 350 people attended the concert, which raised an impressive £1,053.05 for local charitable causes Willowbrook Hospice and Prescot Army Cadets. A programme of carols and popular festive tunes featured Liverpool Brass Ensemble and several local school, church and community choirs.

The annual event is organised by the Prescot Festival, of which Dr Howard is Founder and Artistic Director.

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Photos: Christopher Lyon Photography

Upcoming Concerts

Dr Robert Howard will be conducting and performing in the following concerts between now and the end of the year:

  • Saturday 17 October 7.30pm at All Saints Church, Abbey Road, Liverpool – Phoenix Concert Orchestra
  • Tuesday 1 December 8pm at St James’ Methodist & United Reformed Church, Church Road South, Liverpool L25 7RJ – South Liverpool Orchestra Christmas Concert
  • Thursday 10 December 7pm-8.15pm at Prescot Parish Church – Mayor of Prescot’s Charity Christmas Concert

Dr Howard also looks forward to another full programme of Christmas events, concerts and services at St Edward’s College, Liverpool.

Robert Howard Completes Latest Composition

Dr Robert Howard has recently completed his latest composition, Cortege (2015), for orchestra.

He has composed it for South Liverpool Orchestra, David Kernick (co-founder and webmaster of the Prescot Festival), and the 11th Annual Prescot Festival of Music and the Arts.

The piece will initially be performed by South Liverpool Orchestra (Liverpool Hope University) and conducted by the composer. The piece lasts approximately six minutes.

The first performance will be on Tuesday 19 May, 8pm at Liverpool Hope University Chapel, Taggart Avenue, Childwall, Liverpool, L16 9JD. Tickets are only £3.50 on the door, and the concert also includes works by Rossini, Purcell/Britten, Fucik and Elgar, as well as Sibelius’s Finlandia. The event will be followed by a buffet.

The second performance, and first festival performance, is on Sunday 28 June, 7.30pm, at Prescot Parish Church, Church Street, Prescot, Merseyside, L34 1LA. This is as part of the finale of the 11th Prescot Festival of Music & the Arts (www.prescotfestival.co.uk). Tickets are £5, and the concert also includes Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto (soloist – Hannah MacKenzie (RNCM)) and works by Rossini, Purcell/Britten, Fucik, Elgar, Sibelius, Arne and Parry.

Once again, the orchestra will be conducted by the composer, Dr Robert Howard.