New Year Recital – Aberdeen

Aberdeen Organ

King’s College Chapel

The University of Aberdeen

2004 Aubertin Organ

Monday 20th January – 7:30pm

‘The Tree of Peace’
Contemporary British Music for Organ





Full Programme

White Note Paraphrase (1994)
James MacMillan (b.1959)

Exsultet (2014)
Phillip A. Cooke (b.1980)

The Tree of Peace (2016)
Judith Weir (b.1954)

Epitaph (2014)
Phillip A. Cooke

Chorale Prelude Nunn bitten wir den Heiligen Geist (2019)
Ruth Byrchmore (b.1966) – part of The Orgelbüchlein Project

Chorale Prelude Wo Gott zum Haus nicht gibt sein Gunst (2014)
Robert Saxton (b.1953) – part of The Orgelbüchlein Project

Chorale Prelude in memory of Oliver Knussen (2019)
Robert Saxton

WORLD PREMIEREHymn Tune Prelude on Rhosymedre
Phillip A. Cooke

Passacaglia on the name John McCabe (2015)
Robert Saxton

WORLD PREMIERE – Berceuse for a baby, on the notes EzrA ClincH
Robert Saxton

Passacaglia & Fugue in C minor, BWV 582
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)



Robert Saxton was born in London in 1953 and started composing at the age of six. Guidance in early years from Benjamin Britten and lessons with Elisabeth Lutyens was followed by periods of study at both Cambridge (undergraduate) and Oxford (postgraduate) Universities with Robin Holloway and Robert Sherlaw Johnson respectively, and also with Luciano Berio. He won the Gaudeamus International Composers Prize in Holland at the age of twenty one. In 1986 he was awarded the Fulbright Arts Fellowship to the USA, where he was in residence at Princeton. He became a DMus (Oxon) in 1992 and was elected an Hon Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 2015.

He has written works for the BBC (TV, Proms and Radio), LSO, LPO, ECO, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Northern Sinfonia and David Blake (conductor), Antara, Arditti and Chilingirian String Quartets, St Paul Chamber Orchestra (USA), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival/Opera North, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, City of London, Three Choirs and Lichfield festivals, Stephen Darlington and the choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, the choir of Merton College Oxford, Susan Milan, Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett, Simon Desbruslais, Clare Hammond. Edward Wickham and The Clerks’ Group, Teresa Cahill, Leon Fleisher, Tamsin Little, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, John Wallace and the Raphael Wallfisch and John York duo.

Since 1999 he has been at Oxford University, where he is Professor of Composition in the Faculty of Music and Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcester College. Since 2013, he has also been Composer-in-Association at the Purcell School for Young Musicians. His music from 1972 until 1998 was published by Chester/Music Sales and, since then, by the University of York Music Press and Ricordi (Berlin). Recordings have appeared on the Sony Classical, Hyperion, Metier, EMI , NMC, Divine Art and Signum labels.

Robert Saxton is married to the soprano, Teresa Cahill.

Phillip Cooke was born in Cumbria in 1980, spending the first 18 years of his life in the Lake District. He studied composition in Durham and Manchester Universities and for a PhD with Anthony Powers at Cardiff University. He has had works played across the country and further afield by many top choirs and ensembles.

Recent works were featured in the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Lake District Summer Music Festival (LDSM), Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Musica Sacrae (Poland), Sound Festival (Aberdeen), St Magnus Festival, The Cumnock Tryst and the John Armitage Memorial (JAM) concerts. Works were performed in most of the leading cathedrals and churches in the UK. Recent works have been performed by, amongst others, the BBC Singers and The Sixteen. As of 2011 his choral works have been published by Novello and Schott. In 2012 he was a winner of the ‘Musica Sacra International Composers Competition 2012’ which led to performances in Poland and Lithuania, in 2016 he won the Gesualdo Six Composition Prize for his motet Judas Mercator Pessimus and in 2017 his anthem For He is Our Peace won the Tenth Annual Anthem Competition in Worcester, Massachusetts. His work has regularly been premiered and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and has also recently been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Classic FM. His large-scale choral/orchestral work Noah’s Fire was premiered in Chester Cathedral in November 2015. A CD of his choral works performed by the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge and Onyx Brass was released to great acclaim on Regent Records in April 2014, and the CD of The Eternal Ecstasy (again performed by Selwyn) including his motet of the same name reached the classical charts top 10 in August 2015. In 2017, his work The World on Fire featured on a number one in the classical charts performed by the Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford. There are currently seven commercial recordings available featuring his music.

He is strongly influenced by his native Lake District and by history. His main musical influences are found in continuing and reconciling a pastoral British tradition; he has written articles on James MacMillan, Edward Elgar, Herbert Howells, Francis Pott and British Secular Requiems. He co-edited a book of essays on Howells which was published by Boydell and Brewer in October 2013 and has recently finished writing the first major study on MacMillan’s music that was published by the same publishers in June 2019. He is married with two children, lives in Aberdeenshire and supports Everton (for his sins…). From 2007 – 08 he was a Career Development Fellow at the Faculty of Music, Oxford University and a Junior Research Fellow (2007 – 10) at The Queen’s College, Oxford University. He was composition tutor at Eton College from 2011-12. As of January 2013, he was appointed a Lecturer in Composition at Aberdeen University, becoming Deputy Head in 2015, Senior Lecturer in 2017 and Head of Music in 2018.



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1 Response to New Year Recital – Aberdeen

  1. Kayla S says:

    Very thoughtful bblog


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