- Songs of Home in Hope Street
children’s choir with piano or orchestra
2021 5' contact composer
A setting of a beautiful new poem by Mandy Ross, Songs of Home in Hope Street was commissioned by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic for the 2022 Schools Concerts at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.Publisher details & further information
- Her Element Was Water
4 solo voices (SATB) + str qt, or mixed choir and strings
2021 14' contact composer
Her Element Was Water is a three-movement celebration of the life of Phyllida Ritter (1959-2008). It was jointly commissioned by her son Colin Danskin and her husband Hunter Danskin. It sets a three-part poem specially written for this commission by Isabel Rogers. I have been lucky enough to count Colin, Hunter and Isabel as friends for many years, and it has been an honour and a privilege to work on this deeply personal commission.preview score Publisher details & further information
- For the Future
2020 4' contact composer
- A Song for the Season of Creation
2019 6' St Bride’s Choir
A Song for the Season of Creation, commissioned by the Environment Working Group of the Church of England for St Bride’s Choir and setting words by Malcolm Guite, is available in lots of versions, designed to be performed separately or together:
Unaccompanied Mixed Choir (SS, AA, TT, BB)
Upper Voice Choir (S, S, A) + keyboard
Male Voice Choir (T, Bar, B) + keyboard
Mixed Voice Choir (S, A, Men) + keyboard
Unison Voices + keyboard
Unison Voices + simplified keyboard and chords
Sheet music and rehearsal files are available to download for free at https://www.stbrides.com/a-song-for-the-season-of-creation/preview score Publisher details & further information
- To The Atlantic
children's choir and piano
2018 5' contact composer
To the Atlantic was commissioned by Liverpool Philharmonic for a joint concert of the organisation’s junior choirs (Liverpool Philharmonic Children’s Choir and Melody Makers) and the orchestras of In Harmony Liverpool (Resonate Youth Philharmonic and Everton Junior Philharmonic). I set a text by the wonderful Liverpool poet Roger McGough, whose poetry shot to prominence with The Mersey Sound in 1967. The poem is titled ‘Gateway to the Atlantic’, and explores Liverpool’s relationship with the sea.
Premiered by Liverpool Philharmonic Children’s Choir, Melody Makers, Resonate Youth Philharmonic and Everton Junior Philharmonic, conducted by Rod Skipp, on 8 July 2018 at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.preview score Publisher details & further information
- Sounds and Sweet Airs
upper voice choir with piano, string orchestra or chamber orchestra
2018 12' Composers Edition
Commissioned by Neil and Rosemary McCormick, Sounds and Sweet Airs is dedicated to John Jenkins and Sherborne School for Girls. It was written to celebrate the opening of the Merritt Centre at Sherborne School for Girls, and was first performed by the school’s choir and orchestra under the baton of John Jenkins on 27 June 2019. It’s a setting of Act 3 Scene 2 from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1610-11), in which Caliban speaks to Stephano and Trinculo:
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,
That if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
The piece can be performed by upper voice choir with any of the following forces: piano / string orchestra / string orchestra + piano / chamber orchestra / chamber orchestra + piano.nnThe piano part can be played on the organ, with voicing at the organist’s discretion. It’s largely a reduction of the orchestral parts, so should be used judiciously when string orchestra or chamber orchestra are playing, dropping out and reinforcing as appropriate. A selection of the wind and brass parts can be used rather than the full complement. The double bass part is optional.
I wrote Sounds and Sweet Airs late in 2018. In one continuous movement, it lasts about 12 minutes.preview score Publisher details & further information
- Salisbury Service: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis
2016 15' RSCM Publications
I have known Nick and Eleanor Steinitz for many years, through our association with Pigotts Music Camp, an inspirational place in the Chiltern Hills. My music came to their attention through some of the works that I’ve performed there with friends. It must have made a favourable impression as they then approached me with this commission for an Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for Salisbury Cathedral.
Salisbury Service is in memory of their son Chris, who had been a chorister at Salisbury. I never had a chance to meet Chris, but he was about my age and was known by many of my friends. I would have loved to have known him. Nick and Eleanor asked for the work to be more a celebration than a doleful piece of remembrance, and I have kept this in mind while writing the piece.
I am inevitably aware of the many wonderful previous settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, and I have taken the opportunity to acquaint – and in some cases reacquaint – myself with some of these. So while the varied and ever-evolving world of Anglican church music is an important reference point, it is balanced with my own individual compositional style, itself an almost indefinable bunch of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic tics that I find myself turning to again and again.
I am grateful in particular to Ian Tracey, organist of Liverpool Cathedral, for his invaluable help with the organ registrations, to David Halls for agreeing to take on the first performance, and above all to Nick and Eleanor Steinitz for the faith they have in my ability to carry out this precious commission.
Premiered by by the Salisbury Cathedral Choirs and organist John Challenger, conducted by David Halls, Salisbury Cathedral, 19 November 2016.preview score
I was really pleased with the way my choristers and men rose to the challenges of this work. At first sight, it seemed to be very complicated but as we grew to understand and learn it, we were able to discern its stylistic unity and the composer’s particular way of writing for voices. It meant that the Salisbury Service was easier than it looked and, once we had mastered a section, that section really stuck in the memories of the choir members. The organist had a lot of fun with the detailed organ writing too.David Halls, Director of Music, Salisbury Cathedral
- Super Slow Way: A Rhapsody for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
soprano solo, cello solo, tabla solo, 3 narrators, children’s choir, community choir, chamber choir, brass band
2016 85' contact composer
Super Slow Way: A Rhapsody for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is celebration of the history, people and stories of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal through music, using as its departure point a series of poems specially written by Ian McMillan. It was commissioned by the Canal and River Trust to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The Rhapsody is formed of many contrasting sections, each running into the next, which together form a seamless and ever-varying exploration of the canal’s story. Sometimes the different choirs take the limelight, at other times the soloists soar free, and the band also has its moments of bright, bold glory. Interspersed throughout are sections where the narrators contribute a vital onward narrative flow to the Rhapsody.
It was performed on Sunday 16 October at King George’s Hall, Blackburn. Clark Rundell conducted soloists Amanda Roocroft (soprano), Jonathan Aasgaard (cello) and Kuljit Bhamra (tabla), narrators Farmeen Akhtar, Ian McMillan and Lisa Parry, Super Slow Way Chamber Choir, Blackburn People’s Choir, Children’s Voices of Blackburn (pupils from Lower Darwen Primary School, Cedars Primary School, Ashleigh Primary School, Intack Primary School, St Silas Primary School) and Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. Ian Brownbill was the producer.
It’s in 21 sections, as follows:
- Towpath Chant
- Fantasy on Canal Ballads
- Super Slow Way: The Year Turns
- Sunset Over The Canal
- Narrative No.1
- Canal Dream
- The Water Was Frozen
- Narrative No.2
- The Week Held In Water
- This Is Art
- Narrative No.3
- Towpath Stories
- Narrative No.4
- Haiku Floating On The Water
- Narrative No.5
- A Knife Of Water
- Rhapsody On Boat Names And Some Observations On The Weather
- Narrative No.6 & No.7
- The Northern Powerhouse
- Sailor’s Carol / Gàir na mara
solo fiddle, youth choir, mixed choir, symphony orchestra
2015 4' available from composer
Sailor’s Carol / Gàir na mara was commissioned by Liverpool Philharmonic for performance at the 2015 Spirit of Christmas concerts in Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. A theme of folk music was running throughout the season, and the special guest for the concerts was legendary Northumbrian pipes player Kathryn Tickell. Kathryn is also a fine folk fiddler, and in this piece I wrote a solo part for her, alongside the massed forces of Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra.
The text combines two sources, with the mixed choir singing ‘Sailor’s Carol’ by the Cornish poet Charles Causley, and the youth choir singing ‘Gàir na mara’ (Sea sounds) in Scots Gaelic, a traditional rowing song from Skye. The melody and words were noted from the singing of Frances Tolmie and published in Songs of the Hebrides(1909), edited by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser. Grateful thanks to Liam Redmond for his generous help with the pronunciation and translation of the Scots Gaelic.
Premiered by Kathryn Tickell (solo fiddle), Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Ian Tracey, 17 December 2015, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
youth choir text: traditional Scots Gaelic
mixed choir text: Charles Causleypreview score Publisher details & further information
- On Goes the River: Three Songs of Childhood
2015 15' Composers Edition
A setting for upper voice choir and piano of three poems for children: The Wind (Robert Louis Stevenson), Matilda (Hilaire Belloc) and Where Go The Boats? (Robert Louis Stevenson).
Commissioned by my friends Nick and Eleanor Steinitz in memory of Corinna, and written for the Senior Choir and Chamber Choir of Finchley Children’s Music Group, and their director Grace Rossiter, for their concert on Saturday 14 November 2015.
Parts for an ensemble of six instruments (oboe, two violins, viola, cello and double bass), and a full score, are also available. There are two options for performance: (1) choir and piano, or (2) choir, piano and the full ensemble.preview score
“The young singers and instrumentalists from the Finchley Children’s Music Group thrived on the challenges offered by Ian Stephens’ piece, On Goes the River: Three Songs of Childhood. They enjoyed singing the well-chosen poetry, which was beautifully set, offering a full range of mood and colour to explore in rehearsal and in performance. The vocal writing was pitched at the appropriate level of difficulty for the choir (boy trebles and girls aged 9 – 18 yrs, SSAA), which was appreciated by the singers. It can be hard to musically engage every singer given the age range, but Ian Stephens managed to achieve this with his clever and sensitive writing, fully exploiting the sounds available to him. The punchy and humorous vocal lines in the 2nd movement were perfectly sandwiched between two more reflective and moving settings. Again, this variety of mood and style was something the choir thoroughly enjoyed. It made for a much variation during rehearsals, and a powerful performance during our concert programme. I had asked Ian Stephens to write a piece that also offered the opportunity for the gifted instrumentalists within the choir to shine. Again, he found the right level of difficulty for these players in On Goes the River. The players rehearsed the work chorally in addition to their separate ensemble rehearsals, so they knew the piece for both angles. We have on occasion performed other works with an ensemble taken from within the choir (e.g. Britten’s St Nicolas), and so it was fantastic to have a piece written for us in this way. The choir members were delighted to have a piece tailored for them in this way. We look forward to future performances of the work. It sits very easily around a wide range of choral repertoire and, as the instrumental lines are optional, it is possible to perform the short cycle as a choral work with piano accompaniment alone. Equally, I feel all three movements would successfully stand alone as part of a concert programme.”Grace Rossiter , Musical Director, Finchley Children’s Music Group