Bob Chilcott’s The Voyage shortlisted for RPS Award

The Voyage, with a libretto by Charles Bennett and a musical score by Bob Chilcott, has been shortlisted in the Learning and Participation category of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards.  Presented in association with BBC Radio 3, the RPS Music Awards recognise live classical music in the UK at its highest level.

The commission for The Voyage came from Age UK and was the brainchild of Paul Cann, CEO of Age UK Oxfordshire, forming a part of a project to highlight and combat loneliness in people of all ages.  "We set up the Campaign to End Loneliness because we know that feeling lonely is a universal heartache felt at any age or stage, but often most intensely in young adulthood and older age. We need to make loneliness everyone's business. The Voyage affirms our shared impulse, young and old, for contact and love as we navigate the journey of life. With Bob Chilcott's sublime music and Charles Bennett's evocative text we are telling this old story in a new way" writes Paul Cann.  To support the rehearsals and two performances Age UK led outreach work in the community.  Each performance of the work featured three choirs, a youth choir, an SATB choir, and a community choir made up of people from all areas of life including stroke survivors, dementia patients, and those from care homes in the Oxfordshire and Berkshire areas.

Bob Chilcott and Charles Bennett have made several collaborations.  Charles writes “It’s naturally very pleasing indeed to see Age UK’s imaginative commission being recognised in this way: and beyond my personal delight at the news is the knowledge that pairing young singers with elder ones can result in a powerful and affecting union. It was a deeply meaningful project to write, and a joy to hear. Bob’s music brought a special, added significance – and I am genuinely uplifted by this nomination.”  Bob has responded by adding The Voyage was a wonderful collaborative project that brought together young and old, amateur and professional, in a genuine spirit of musical community and I am so thrilled that it has been recognised in this way.”

The Voyage received two première performances in March 2016, at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford and at the Reading Concert Hall.  For each concert Age UK Oxfordshire brought together three choirs of mixed ages and experience and a group of young musicians.  Supported by the Arts Council England and charitable trusts, the piece offers evocative music about a journey through life which can be accessed and enjoyed by anyone, whatever their age, stage, and musical ability.

The US première of The Voyage was given in October by VocalEssence, in Minneapolis, MN, conducted by Philip Brunelle.

The Voyage is published by Oxford University Press.

The RPS Awards are announced on the evening of Tuesday 9 May 2017.

2017 highlights

Bob has been honoured as a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music.  The FRSCM is an award for achievements in church music which have international significance, and in 2017 Bob is one of six recipients, together with Garmon Ashby, Katherine Dienes-Williams, Cecilia McDowall, Patrick Russill, and Jeremy Summerly.  The FRSCM will be conferred at a ceremony in the Autumn.  The RSCM is a worldwide organisation which offers support and materials for Church musicians, and Bob is thrilled to be recognised by it.

Two CDs featuring Bob’s music are due for release this year.  In September Commotio releases its second Chilcott Naxos disc which includes the Nidaros Jazz Mass, Jazz Songs of Innocence, and Ophelia, Caliban, and Miranda, together with The Real of Heart and Thou, my love, art fair.  Alex Hawkins and friends provide the unique jazz accompaniments, and Matthew Berry shares the conducting duties with the composer.  Also in September the next phase in the collaboration with Washington DC-based choir, Choralis, takes the form of the release of a CD containing the Gloria, Wenceslas, My Perfect Stranger, The Nine Gifts and Jesus, Springing.  Gretchen Kuhrmann conducts her choir and DC musicians for the release on British label, Signum.

Bob sang with the King’s Singers for 12 years, and the group is soon to celebrate its half centenary.  In February the singers recorded an anniversary disc which includes a brand new commission, We Are, and an arrangement of Shenandoah.  Bob was delighted to join them at the sessions, and wishes them well with the anniversary tour.  In June he works with them at their US Summer School in De Pauw on a choral music stream.  In April 2018 he and they, with Simon Carrington, perform with massed choirs at New York’s Carnegie Hall in a DCINY concert.

Every June Bob alternates between the children’s choir festivals of picfest and Crescent City, and this year will travel to New Orleans where the massed children’s choir will première a new commission.

Early March saw the first performance, in St John’s Smith Square, of A Tree of Song at the British Kodály Academy celebration concert.  Bob is proud to have been invited to become a patron for the organisation.