Bob Chilcott

BBC Music Magazine - - Thefullscore -

Bob Chilcott be­gan his pro­fes­sional com­pos­ing ca­reer in 1997, a er 12 years as a mem­ber of the King’s Singers. He has writ­ten for choirs of all shapes and sizes, for both chil­dren and adults. This Christ­mas he con­ducts the Hud­der­s­field Choral So­ci­ety and joins up with John Rut­ter for BBC Singers con­certs at Mil­ton Court and Sa ron Hall.

I was lucky enough to have a re­ally great mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

I came from a time when post­war par­ents wanted a bet­ter life for their kids than they had. My fam­ily had no money but I got the chance to go to a choir school. And I had a re­ally de­cent ca­reer as a per­former. I now want to in­vest my time in get­ting peo­ple to un­der­stand that mu­sic is a won­der­ful thing.

We are bril­liant at out­reach pro­grammes in the UK. I think we’re one of the only coun­tries in the world that does it to the ex­tent we do. I was in­volved with the BBC Singers when out­reach was just be­ing thought about, and it seems like ages ago. All over the coun­try or­ches­tras and choir are do­ing a huge amount of work, and it’s vi­tal be­cause there’s not been that ex­am­ple else­where.

Mu­sic has gone out of the pic­ture for a lot of peo­ple. There used to be a real un­der­stand­ing of the id­iom of con­tem­po­rary mu­sic. We don’t see the im­por­tance of in­vest­ing in the idea of what it is to learn a cul­ture and be­come part of your own cul­ture. It’s a shame it’s not seen as be­ing im­por­tant in ed­u­ca­tion. There’s a huge en­ergy for mu­sic in this coun­try but there’s a kind of dis­course in gen­eral life that mu­sic isn’t for many peo­ple.

I’ve just writ­ten a Christ­mas Ora­to­rio for the Three Choirs Fes­ti­val next year. I wrote a St John Pas­sion a few years ago for Glouces­ter Cathe­dral, and for that I wrote new hymn set­tings of well-known words, like chorales. I’ve done that with this piece as well. Bach’s Christ­mas Ora­to­rio is a mag­nif­i­cent work and I love that it was a very func­tional piece in its time.

My favourite carols are O Holy Night and John Rut­ter’s What Sweeter Mu­sic. When you hear the Rut­ter you think ev­ery­thing is al­right. I took part in BBC

Ra­dio 4’s pro­gramme Soul

Mu­sic about O Holy Night. There’s some­thing very spe­cial about it. I said to Rut­ter that I loved his choral ar­range­ment of it, and he said he can’t stand the piece, which made me laugh. I love it.

What’s the score?: ‘There’s a huge en­ergy for mu­sic in this coun­try’

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