there was a child

Contemporary classical music has a tough act to follow when you consider the footsteps in which modern composers tread.

‘Sounds like’ or ‘obviously influenced by’ are phrases you tend to hear – as if the listener is desperately trying to get a handle on what they’ve heard.

Only last week, our choir – the CBSO Chorus – took part in a first UK performance of Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Weltethos’ to launch the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

If you hurry, you can hear – via the BBC iPlayer – how very different a sound world Harvey manages to create without too many obvious reference points.

Jonathan Harvey – Weltethos – BBC iPlayer

On the subject of contemporary classical music, next Monday sees the release of a new recording involving the CBSO Chorus.

‘There Was A Child’ (SIGCD 285) by another British composer, Jonathan Dove, is a far more accessible work, which wears some of its influences more obviously – notably Britten, Vaughan Williams and the American composer John Adams.

The record was made during a concert performance last summer, and proved an immediate hit with performers and audiences.

It takes the poetry loved by a friend’s teenage son, who died on a gap year trip abroad, and celebrates his life in a sequence of magical settings.

It’s certainly a marvellous piece to sing, and one which really connects.

Dove was in the news last week when he met the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on her visit to Britain.

He’s been commissioned to write a new piece by BBC Radio 3 whose listeners chose her as the subject for the commission.

Quite a challenge.

Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any audio clips of ‘There Was A Child, ‘ but if you like vocal music of any style or genre, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

And I can’t give it a greater accolade than that.

Jonathan Dove – There Was A Child – order link

Signum Classics – official website

Jonathan Dove meets Aung San Suu Kyi

Jonathan Dove – Seek Him That Make The Seven Stars

Jonathan Dove – Ring Out Wild Bells

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