OUR NEXT CONCERT
Cream Tea Concert
John Rutter (ed.) – Opera Highlights
Conductor: Christopher Fletcher
Date: Saturday 1 July, Concert 3:30pm
Location: The Cathedral Church of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface, Cecil St., Plymouth
Tickets: £15 to include a cream tea
Tickets available in advance from:
Plymouth: Framing Centre, 83 Hyde Park Rd, (01752 255020)
Tavistock: Mainly Stationery, Brook St, 01822 618500
Buckfast: Post Office (01364 642941)
Kingsbridge: Tourist Info.Ctr. (01548 853195)
Saltash: Bookshelf, 96 Fore St. (01752 845804)
Contact choir ticket manager for group concessions 01822 853791
John Rutter’s popular music embraces hymn settings for choirs, Christmas carols, and epic choral works such as the Gloria and the Requiem. He’s also written orchestral and instrumental pieces and TV soundtracks.
Born on 24 September 1945 in London, John Rutter was educated at Highgate School, where a fellow pupil was the future composer John Tavener. At school, Rutter already loved to sing and compose.
When Rutter began his degree at Clare College, Cambridge, he was already an experienced composer. At 18 he wrote his famous Shepherd’s Pipe Carol. David Willcocks, who was running the music department at King’s College, looked over Rutter’s manuscripts and said, “Would you be interested in seeing some of these published?” Rutter said, “I was truly gobsmacked.”
In 1974, Rutter visited Nebraska, USA, to conduct the premiere of his cantata Gloria. Between 1975 and 1979 he returned to Clare College where, as director of music, he made a tremendous impact, raising choral standards to the level of the more famous King’s. Yet by now his own music had really begun to take off and he was also increasingly in demand as a conductor.
Rutter’s larger choral works, Gloria (1974), Requiem (1985), Magnificat (1990), Psalmfest (1993) and Mass of the Children (2003) have been performed countless times in Britain, North America, and a growing number of other countries.
Rutter’s music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century, as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes, in addition to the standard piano or organ accompaniment, has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment as well, using varied instrumentation.
When composing, Rutter will often work from mid-morning until midnight with only a break for dinner. He thrives on discipline and feels that the most vital aspect of any new piece is to come up with a first-rate idea, which then becomes a vital springboard for the piece as a whole. He prefers to make revisions and corrections as he goes along rather than revisit and make any changes after a piece has appeared in print.
Rutter co-edited four volumes in the Carols for Choirs series with Sir David Willcocks, and, later, edited the first two volumes in the Oxford Choral Classics series, Opera Choruses (1995) and European Sacred Music (1996).
Nowadays, John Rutter is often invited to compose music for special occasions, most memorably for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, which featured his enraptured anthem, This Is The Day.
In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon John Rutter in recognition of his contribution to church music. He was also honoured in the 2007 Queen’s New Year Honours List, receiving a CBE for services to music.
Opera Choruses is a collection of classic opera choruses, skilfully arranged as separate concert works, all with excellent English singing translations.
CHRISTOPHER FLETCHER Conductor
In 1978, Christopher was awarded a scholarship to study music at Trinity College of Music, London, becoming a Graduate and Fellow of the College. He moved to South Devon in 1984, since when he has been actively involved with choirs, church music and teaching. After 8 years as organist and Director of Music of the Parish and Priory Church of St Mary Totnes, in 2001 he was appointed to a similar post at the Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral. Since 1996 he has been Director of Music and Conductor of Plymouth Philharmonic Choir. During his tenure the choir has become recognised as one of the best large amateur choirs in the country.
Performances with the choir which stand out include: Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ with Sir Thomas Allen as soloist, David Fanshawe’s ‘African Sanctus’ in the presence of the composer, Karl Jenkin’s ‘The Armed Man’, with the Orchestra of the Royal Marines, which was judged by the Plymouth Herald to be the best classical concert of the year, and the choir’s recent performance of Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’ which many members of the audience thought possibly the choir’s best ever!
In addition Christopher is conductor of the Chagford Singers, the Lupridge Singers and the Stanborough Chorus . He has also conducted the South Devon Choir. As well as being in demand as a choral workshop leader, Christopher helped to found the annual Rotary ‘Come and Sing’ charity concert at Buckfast Abbey in 1999, which he has conducted each year since and which regularly attracts 200 singers from all over Devon and beyond. In 2008 he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International. Christopher is also in demand as an after – dinner speaker.