News from the Lockdown

Robert’s compositions continue to find a way of being heard, even in these unusual times.

The Liverpool Cathedral-based community choir Liverpool64 sang the moving 2017 anthem Alleluia in early April. Singers rehearsed together online and recorded their individual performances at home, before director Stephen Mannings edited the final piece – a great technological accomplishment as well as a musical one.

The recording was used again by Prescot Parish Church for their Easter Day service, published to both Facebook and their website, prescotparish.org.uk.

Tenor David Kernick had planned to give the premiere Robert’s God So Loved the World on Good Friday, during the Second Hour at Prescot Parish Church. In it Robert follows in the footsteps of other composers – most famously John Stainer, who used the same biblical text  (John 3.16-17) in his 1887 oratorio The Crucifixion. Circumstances delayed the performance, but David nevertheless was able to introduce Prescot Parish Church Choir to the beautiful new setting as part of a an online tutorial.

Scores from Robert’s vast catalogue of compositions are still being added to Sheet Music Plus. Musicians finding the coronavirus restrictions a struggle may enjoy downloading and learning one of the dozens of instrumental solos, piano pieces, and chamber and choral works now available.

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.

June Performances Coming Up

April saw a double premiere, when Robert Howard’s new setting of the Good Friday Reproaches (I Gave You Love) was sung by the choirs of both St Mary’s, Prescot, and All Hallows’, Allerton, under the composer and Stephen Davies, respectively.

At Prescot, on the same day, Rob also conducted his own Ave verum corpus (2016).

Three choirs – Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir, Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir and the newly established Liverpool64 – assembled to sing Rob’s Jubilate Deo (2016) in the cathedral on Saturday 11 May. Stephen Mannings conducted, with a splendid accompaniment on organ, piano and timpani, as part of the ‘All Ages Sing!’ concert.

More performances are ahead for Rob’s compositions, both old and new.

On Sunday 2 June, Prescot Parish Church Choir will sing the 2017 anthem Alleluia during their morning Eucharist at 10am, with David Kernick conducting.

On Wednesday 5 June, Stephen Mannings conducts Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir in Ave verum corpus during Evensong in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral (5.30pm).

On 16 June, Trinity Sunday, Prescot Parish Church Choir sing a new hymn, Bread of the World, during Holy Communion at the 10am Sung Eucharist, again under David Kernick.

On Saturday 22 June, Alleluia features in the Prescot Festival ‘Come & Sing’ concert at Prescot Parish Church, alongside Vivaldi’s Gloria, under conductor James Luxton, of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. All SATB singers are welcome to participate, and the guests for the second half of the evening are Liverpool Cathedral Choir.

The following day, 23 June, sees Robert’s 2014 organ piece Meditation performed at the festival as part of a recital by Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral organist Richard Lea. Tickets are just £5, including wine & nibbles, and under-16s are free with a paying adult.

Then, on Saturday 29 June at 7.30pm in St John the Baptist Church in Burscough (School Lane, L40 4AE), Jim Cooke directs the Ormskirk Music Society Orchestra in a performance of Rob’s stirring 2015 work Cortege. Tickets are £10 and £5.

Looking even further ahead, Bread of the World and other Howard compositions will be on the programme on Friday 27 September, at 7.30pm, at Parish Musicians in Concert. This church fundraiser at Prescot Parish Church features organist Tim Hall and guest musicians, including Robert and other members of Prescot Parish Church Choir.

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.

Jubilate Deo Cathedral Performances Ahead

Robert Howard’s well-received choral work Jubilate Deo is to receive three performances at Liverpool Cathedral in the first half of 2019.

It will be sung in its two-part (SA) version. As with most of Robert’s recent choral compositions, it was originally written for Prescot Parish Church Choir.

Stephen Mannings, Director of Choral Outreach, will conduct on each occasion, following his conducting of Robert’s Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in the Lady Chapel of the cathedral in November 2018.

The three dates are:

  • Wednesday 30 January, 5.30pm, Choral Evensong (Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir)
  • Wednesday 13 March, 5.30pm, Choral Evensong (Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir & Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir)
  • Saturday 11 May, 7pm, Spring Concert (Liverpool 64 Community Choir, Liverpool Cathedral Youth Choir & Liverpool Cathedral Junior Choir)

Find out more at www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk.

Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, Liverpool Cathedral Performances Ahead for Howard Compositions

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).