2020 kicked off with an exciting residency with the Hong Kong Youth Choir which culminated with a concert in which Bob conducted his own music, including Five Days that Changed the World, A Little Jazz Mass, and Gloria. That concert was broadcast in September and you can hear it here. In February he travelled to Rendsburg, Germany to work with conductors and singers in reading sessions and workshops. His final trip before the 'lockdown' made both travel and choir attendance impossible was a visit to Houston where he oversaw the recording sessions of the Grammy Award-winning Houston Chamber Choir.
Bob Simpson's award-winning choir and the talented Treble Choir of Houston (conductor, Marianna Simpson) gave two concert performances of the newly-revised Circlesong, a 40-minute celebration of the Seven Ages of Man written to texts from the indigenous tribes of North America. Both the concerts and the CD recording also included three pieces performed by the treble choir, All Things Pass, Circles of Motion, and the exuberant Like a Rainbow. The editing process has revealed a stunning display of choral artistry, and a deeply moving work. It is anticipated that the CD and download will be released by the British label, Signum Classics, in 2021.
The enforced period of closure has enabled work on the CD recorded by NFM Wroclaw of music by Bob, Francis Pott, Sir James MacMillan, and Cecilia McDowall to continue. The focus of the disc is Move him into the sun, which Bob wrote in 2018 to a commission from Shrewsbury BookFest to mark the centenary of the untimely death of the poet Wilfred Owen just a few days before the 1918 Armistice. It includes the first recording of his Canticles of Light and three shorter pieces by the other composers chosen to reflect the theme of remembrance. Again, it will be released by Signum Classics later in 2021.
Sadly, singing days, residencies, and festivals scheduled from March have now all been postponed. The process of rescheduling has begun and as the impact of the virus on the performing arts becomes apparent we will be able to confirm new dates for the performances in Norwich and Oxford of the youth opera, Birdland, the world première of Lightwaves at picfest, the youth choir festival in Eugene, OR, and the piece composed for Sing for Peace in Kyoto Concert Hall, Make us a channel of your peace.
Bob is Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers and will enjoy a number of projects with the choir through the Autumn term, including recording the ACDA commission Songs my heart taught me, conduction the broadcast of the winner in the BBC Carol Competition, and conducting a Christmas concert at the Barbican Centre on Tuesday 15 December. Elsewhere this Autumn, 25 October sees the final concert of the virtual City of Derry International Choir Festival in which Bob conducts his own arrangement of Danny Boy, and a workshop hosted by Choralis (of Washington DC) in which Bob is in conversation with King's Singer Chris Bruerton. On 21 November the Great Missenden Come and Sing event is replaced by Meet the Composer, in which Bob will discuss his own music and career, with recorded extracts. On 3 December he will conduct the Holst Singers in concert, and on 4 December hopes to travel to Poland to conduct the Polish premiere of his Christmas Oratorio.
A full programme is currently scheduled for 2021, and details will be released as the situation becomes clear.