Win for Alison Willis

We are delighted to share the news that Walter Hussey Composition Competition finalist Alison Willis has recently won the joint Derby Cathedral and Friends of Cathedral Music Composition Competition.

Find out more here.


Our Final QuaranTune

Our final QuaranTune is Evening Hymn by Henry Balfour Gardiner. It has been chosen by Howard who sings tenor in choir.

Evening Hymn is a classic of English choral music. Written in 1908, it is Balfour Gardiner’s most well known piece in which he sets the hymn Te Lucis Ante Terminum for choir and organ.

This recording was made by an audience member at a performance by the choir at Douai Abbey in 2013 and gives the viewer the impression they are attending the concert live.

We’ve been Shortlisted for a Making Music Award

We are delighted to announce that the inaugural Walter Hussey Composition Competition has been shortlisted for the new Making Music Awards, which will form part of an online celebratory evening of musical creativity on Tuesday 8 September.

The awards celebrate leisure-time music groups and their activity, and the often unrecognised talent which helps the sector to flourish across the UK.

All awards will be announced by Debbie Wiseman OBE, one of the UK’s top film and television composers, following the Making Music annual general meeting.

The Walter Hussey Composition Competition was shortlisted in the category for best project involving new music along with

  • Music Action International – Conflict and Compassion, in partnership with refugee torture survivor collective, Stone Flowers, and Manchester Camerata Orchestra
  • Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society – Schools Composition Project, in partnership with Dunfermline High School and The Waid Academy

The judging panel comprised Carl Stevens, Arts Council England Senior Manager, Audience Insight & Innovation / Music; Peter Lawson, promoter and former Making Music Chair; conductor and producer Clare Edwards; and Dorothy Wilson MBE FRSA, Making Music Chair.

“It was a pleasure and privilege to review so many innovative and interesting projects from all over the UK,” said Making Music Chair Dorothy Wilson, “In the end, alongside quality, we considered innovation, diversity and community involvement when reaching our difficult decision.”

The world premiere of Gerson Batista’s Golden Day, the winning entry in the first Walter Hussey Composition Competition has already won Reading Phoenix Choir the Performance of the Year Award at the Reading Cultural Awards.

A winning but sleepy QuaranTune

Our 11th QuaranTune is Sleep by American composer Eric Whitacre. This was chosen by soprano Gill, who recalls choir winning the British Heart Foundation’s Scratch Choral Challenge and performing it at the Royal Albert Hall.

The lyrics are by the poet Charles Anthony Silvestri.

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon

Upon my pillow safe in bed
A thousand pictures fill my head
I cannot sleep, my mind’s a-flight
And yet my limbs seem made of lead

If there are noises in the night
A frightening shadow, flickering light
As I surrender unto sleep
Where clouds of dream give second sight

What dreams may come both dark and deep
On flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep (Dark and Deep)
Sleep (Sleep)

This recording comes from the choir’s 40th anniversary CD.

A truly golden QuaranTune

This week’s QuaranTune has been chosen by regular audience member, Emily. Her pick is Golden Day by Gerson Batista.

Golden Day was the winner of our inaugural Walter Hussey Composition Competition and was premiered during our 50th season at a concert in Reading Concert Hall, with Portuguese composer Batista in attendance.

That performance also won the Performance of the Year at Reading Cultural Awards 2019.

This version was recorded back in February and is available to stream or buy from all the usual channels (iTunes, Spotify).

A QuaranTune that builds to a thrilling climax

Second soprano Fiona introduces this week’s QuaranTune – Song for Athene by John Tavener.

Originally commissioned by the BBC in 1993 this piece was written by John Tavener as a tribute to a friend killed in a cycling accident. It is perhaps more famously known for being performed by Westminster Abbey Choir for Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.

The words are drawn from a combination of the Orthodox funeral service and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

This version was recorded by Reading Phoenix Choir at a concert in Wells-next-the-Sea in June 2011.