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.
In 2017 he was short-listed for an RPS (Royal Philharmonic Society) Award for his 2016 work The Voyage. The commission 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. The libretto is by poet Charles Bennett, with whom Bob has made several collaborations.
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 congratulations the group on reaching 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 at their US Summer School in De Pauw, IN in June. In April 2018 he and they, with Simon Carrington, perform with massed choirs at New York’s Carnegie Hall in a DCINY concert.
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. He then travelled to Japan where he adjudicated at the Fukushima Vocal Music Festival and conducted choirs in Kyoto. In May Bob returned to Wroclaw to work with the stunning NFM Wroclaw choir, performing a concert which included The Making of the Drum and Marriage to my Lady Poverty as well as Standing as I do by Cecilia McDowall and a selection of madrigals.
Each June Bob alternates between the children’s choir festivals of picfest and Crescent City, and this year he travelled to New Orleans where the repertoire included his commissioned piece, Evening Hymn, published by Oxford University Press. He has also enjoyed leading Come and Sing workshops for the RSCM in Kent, the Burford Singers, choirs in Steyning and the Living Water Africa charity in Salisbury.
Later this Summer he has two weeks in Norway, with the choral organisations Corolua and the Norwegian Choir Association, visits Haderslev to work with Danish Cathedral choirs, and he returns to Helsinki to adjudicate for Let the Peoples Sing. In the autumn both CDs will be launched, All Good Things (Naxos) in London Bridge on 22 September in a concert given by Commotio and In Winter’s Arms in Washington, DC in December. Singing days this term include Barry, South Wales, on 16 September, Congleton in Cheshire on 30 September, the RSCM in Leeds on 21 October, and Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire on 28 October.