The Marian Consort

The first track on the latest CD by the Marian consort, Music for the Queen of Heaven is my Salve Regina, written for Truro Cathedral Choir seventeen years ago. I have been commissioned to write an extended Stabat mater for the 10th anniversary of the Marian Consort; the first performance will be at Merton College, Oxford next Spring and the piece will be recorded by Delphian Records.

Also released this month is the 10th recording of The Christ-child, by the MDR Rundfunkchor under Philipp Ahmann.

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Summer premieres in Latvia

On 30 July Agnese Urka, Dārta Treija, Christopher Walsh and Eduards Fiskovičs will give the first performance of Exile Meditations at the Latvian National Railway Museum in Rīga.  The half-hour piece sets texts by four of the so-called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ poets (Latvian post-war displaced persons who eventually settled in New York) and three present-day Middle Eastern refugee writers.

On 22 August Arvydas Kazlauskas and the State Choir “Latvija” under Māris Sirmais will premiere Ave maris stella (combining the medieval Latin hymn with a contemporary poem by Anna Rancāne) at St Gertrude Old Church in Rīga.

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Spring recordings

New releases this Spring include the premiere recording of Our flags are wafting in hope and grief (with words by Doris Kareva about the Singing Revolution in the Baltic States) on the debut disc from new young choir Sansara; the Exon Singers‘ 50th Anniversary disc on new label Rubicon Classics features Ave Maria alongside other commissions for the choir; the Vancouver-based Phoenix Chamber Choir include Not no faceless Angel and the sixth recording of To Morning on their latest CD, and the Choir of the Queen’s College, Oxford, include Ecce venio cito on their Signum Records disc A new heaven.

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Vox Clara CD reviews

Vox Clara, released earlier this year on Regent Records, continues to garner excellent reviews. It was an ‘Editor’s choice’ in the November issue of Gramophone magazine, who called it ‘heart-stoppingly gorgeous’ and a ‘glorious release…unbeatable’. The Sunday Times wrote of ‘an irresistible allure’ and The Observer of ‘a stunning set of Advent Antiphons and a wonderfully lithe and sinuous Cantate Domino.’ Choir and Organ magazine called it ‘a refreshingly different disc’ and MusicWeb said ‘The disc is full of imaginatively crafted music which gives further evidence of why Gabriel Jackson is so highly regarded as a choral composer.‘  

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Atomos Saxophone Quartet

The brand-new Atomos Saxophone Quartet, based in Rīga, will include LM-7: Aquarius in their debut concerts in November. The first performance on their mini-tour of Latvia will be at the Valmiera Musuem on 15 November, followed by concerts at the New Castle in Cēsis on 16 November, Liepāja Museum on 17 November and Birojnīca in Rīga on 20 November. LM-7: Aquarius was commissioned by the Lunar Saxophone Quartet and first performed by them in 2006.

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September recordings

Three new recordings are released this month. Untitled (for Robert Irvine), my contribution to cellist and very old friend Robert Irvine‘s Songs and Lullabies collection in aid of UNESCO is on DelphianNowell sing we, originally commissioned by Truro Cathedral Choir, is the title track of the second album from young American professional choir Brevitas. And The Sixteen, on their own label Coro, release the 9th commercial recording to date of The Christ-child.

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New concerto

I am one of the first nine composers to receive a grant from the PRS Foundation‘s Composers Fund (in assoctaiona with the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation). This will enable me to compose a substantial piece for alto saxophone, strings and percussion. Stone.Water.Sound. will have its premiere performances in Tallinn and Riga.

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To the Field of Stars

To the Field of Stars continues to get oustanding reviews. Musicweb calls it “an important, richly imagined work” in their review of the premiere recording, by co-commissioners S:t Jakobs Kammarkör. A second recording has just been released, by the Nonsuch Singers, who gave the UK premiere of the piece in 2014. The new CD on Convivium Records also includes Creator of the Stars of Night and music by Byrd, Victoria, Arvo Pärt & Jonathan Dove.

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New recordings

CD releases this winter include the fifth recording to date of To Morning, by the Rodolfus Choir on Signum, two commissions from the choir of the Immaculate Conception, Farm St., and an iTunes single of A Prayer of King Henry VI by the New London Singers. Next Spring will see the release of Fantasia with Anniversary Chorale, by guitarist Tom Kerstens, the second recording of the half-hour To the field of stars by the Nonsuch Singers under Tom Bullard, and a disc of my work (with lots of premiere recordings) by Truro Cathedral Choir on Regent Records.

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London International A Cappella Choir Competition

As well as being featured composer at this year’s London International A Cappella Choir Competition, I shall be joining Mark Williams, Lionel Meunier and Peter Phillips as a judge at the final on September 26th. The competition, at St John’s Smith Square in London, involves seven choirs from the UK and beyond and the week begins with the Tallis Scholars‘ 2000th concert  which will include Ave Dei patris filia, commissioned by the group for their 40th anniversary in 2013.

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Airplane Cantata at the RAF Museum

In a special concert to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the BBC Singers, with Rex Lawson (pianola) and conducted by Martyn Brabbins, will perform Airplane Cantata along with other aviation-inspired pieces by Bob Chilcott, Edward Cowie and George Antheil. The concert on 18 September will take place in one of the hangars at the RAF Museum in Hendon.

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Spring Rounds on TV

On May 25th Youth Choir Kamēr… premiered Spring Rounds, for soprano, choir and orchestra, at the Latvian National Opera in their 25th anniversary concert. That sold-out concert was broadcast on Latvian TV and is now available to watch on their website here. Preceded by two other anniversary commissions by Ēriks Ešenvalds and Raimonds Tiguls, Spring Rounds starts at 1 hour 5 minutes.

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New CD recording from Truro Cathedral

At the beginning of May Christopher Gray and Truro Cathedral Choir recorded a new CD of my work. It includes the first recordings of Vox clara ecce intonat, Holy is the true light, Two Pentecost Motets, the instrumental works Aria for Joel and Vicki and Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen as well as the complete Seven Advent Antiphons and several other works written for the choir over the years. Also featured are saxophonist Joel Garthwaite and organist Luke Bond and the disc will be released by Regent Records in the Spring of 2016.

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Spring Rounds in Riga

May 25th 2015 will see the first performance of Spring Rounds, a half-hour piece for soprano, choir and orchestra, at the Latvian National Opera in Riga. Commissioned by the great youth choir Kamēr… for their 25th Anniversary, Spring Rounds will also feature soprano Jolanta Strikaite, and will be conducted by the Artistic Director of Kamēr…, Jānis Liepiņš. The special birthday concert will also include new music by Ēriks Ešenvalds and Raimonds Tiguls and will be broadcast by Latvian Radio and by Latvian Television.

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The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2015

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, commissioned by Merton College, Oxford for their 750th Anniversary in 2014 will receive its West Coast premiere on 21 February, given by the Tudor Choir & Players under Doug Fullington. On Palm Sunday, 29 March, Yale Camerata will present the work in New Haven; also in March, the London premiere will be given by the Royal College of Music Junior Department Chamber Choir & Orchestra under Joy Hill on the 21st, followed five days later by a EBU broadcast performance by David Hill with the BBC Singers and Endymion.

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Five new publications

Available now from Oxford University Press are five recent scores: La musique, commissioned by Dame Felicity Lott and the Choir of Royal Holloway (also just out on CD from Hyperion Records); I say that we are wound with mercy, a Gerald Manley Hopkins setting also just released on CD by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford; a Tennyson setting, In memoriam, commissioned by Coro and the York Chapter House Choir in memory of Clare Latham; Our flags are wafting in hope and grief, a piece about the Singing Revolution in the Baltic States with words by the great Estonian poet Doris Kareva; and Ave Dei patris filia, written last year for the 40th anniversary of The Tallis Scholars

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