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. 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, towards the end of the year.
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 performance 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 2020.
Sadly, singing days, residencies, and festivals scheduled from March to August 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 a channel of your peace.
In September, Bob will resume his residency as Guest Conductor of Birmingham University Singers, and will conduct the BBC Singers on BBC Music Day. He intends to lead three of his popular Come and Sing days, for Cantata Choir on the Isle of Wight, for the Cotswolds village church in Shipton-under-Wychwood, and in Herefordshire with the Kington Choral Society.
In October he'll conduct another Come and Sing workshop in Kent, arranged by the East Malling Singers, an upper-voice day in Chester hosted by Decibellas, and the final opportunity to enjoy one of these fantastic learning experiences this year is in Buckinghamshire on 21st November at Great Missenden. The Busan Choral Festival in South Korea is due to take place in October, followed at the end of the month with the rescheduled concert and workshop in Washington, DC, which features Move him into the sun and Samba Mass, given by Choralis with support from the Washington Children's Choir. European singers are invited to travel to Delft for 7th – 8th November for the opportunity to rehearse and perform with Bob in the first Dutch performance of his Christmas Oratorio under the umbrella of the Delft School of Music.
Back in the UK, on 5th December singers may join Voices of Hope in the North East for another chance to sing Christmas Oratorio. Bob will conduct the Holst Singers' Christmas concert on 3rd December, Huddersfield Choral Society and Black Dyke Band in concert on 11th December, and the BBC Singers in Christmas concerts with John Rutter at the Saffron Hall on 13th December and Barbican Concert Hall on 15th December.