Journals Higher Education

Bob Chilcott

‘One of the finest choral composers at work in Britain today’
Marc Rochester, Gramophone Magazine

‘Chilcott's music is understandably popular with choirs, and while he adheres to a directly accessible style with much emphasis on consonant chords, he has the skill to make everything just that little bit intriguing through an odd harmonic twist here or an unexpected melodic turn there.’

Bob Chilcott, described by The Observer as “a contemporary hero of British Choral Music”, has become one of the most widely performed composers of choral music in the world. He has a large catalogue of works published by Oxford University Press which reflects his wide taste in music styles and his commitment to writing music that is both singable and communicative.

From his catalogue of larger works, Salisbury Vespers, written in 2009, was first performed by over 600 singers and players in Salisbury Cathedral. His Requiem, of 2010 has now been performed in sixteen countries, and his large-scale cantata, The Angry Planet, was premièred in the 2012 BBC Proms by 550 adult and young singers. In March 2013 his St John Passion was premièred in Wells Cathedral by the Cathedral Choir conducted by Matthew Owens. Most recently he wrote The King shall rejoice for the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.

Of his smaller works, A Little Jazz Mass remains a favourite with choirs around the world as do many of his pieces for children’s choir, including the piece with sign language, Can you hear me? which was performed at the 2004 Song Festival in Estonia by over 7000 children.

Between 1997 and 2004 he was conductor of the chorus of The Royal College of Music in London and since 2002 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of The BBC Singers. He has been privileged to conduct many choirs in some 30 countries over the last ten years. Over the coming eighteen months he will conduct in Russia, Canada, the USA, Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

There are a number of recordings of his music on the Signum label performed by The BBC Singers, The King’s Singers, The Sirens, and The NFL Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. His Requiem and St John Passion are recorded on the Hyperion label by the Choir of Wells Cathedral. In 2013 albums of his music were released on the Naxos label by The Wellensian Consort and Commotio. His music has been recorded by many other choirs and groups including Tenebrae, The Cambridge Singers, The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and The Choir of Westminster Abbey.

Latest updates

Bob's most recent work is My Perfect Stranger which was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and first performed by the BBC Singers. It is a captivating setting of Kevin Crossley-Holland's retelling of the Christmas story. Soloists take on the roles of key players in the narrative in the central movement, with the upper voices taking on the role of the guiding star, as well as enriching the texture at important moments in the story, whilst artful harp writing creating a vibrant accompaniment.

Bob's latest commission, Move Him Into the Sun, is being written to commemorate the centenary of the death of renowned poet, Wilfred Owen, who died a week before the end of the 1st World War in 1918. The title is from the opening line of Owen's poem, 'Futility'. The 25-minute work will be scored for SATB chorus, children's choir and ensemble, and premieres on 4 November 2018 (the anniversary of Owen's death).

More details about both works will be available soon!

Listen to Bob's recordings on Soundcloud