Oxford celebrates Saxton’s 65th birthday

The University of Oxford is to hold a concert tomorrow, Friday 2nd November, in celebration of eminent composer and Professor of Composition Robert Saxton’s 65th birthday. Ensemble ISIS, the Faculty of Music’s contemporary music ensemble, founded by Robert Saxton and John Traill in 2002, will join with the St Anne’s Camerata to perform Saxton’s The Resurrection of the Soldiers and his Chamber Symphony: The Circles of Light

Saxton is currently a Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcest College Oxford and the recent years of Saxton’s prolific output have seen many successes, including notable commissions, performances and CD releases, with numerous complimentary reviews.  Performances have included: the premiere of The Resurrection of the Soldiers, commissioned by the 2016 Presteigne Festival and the English Symphony Orchestra, premiered by the Presteigne Festival Orchestra and conducted by George Vass, then performed by the ESO in September 2016, and also by the Aldeburgh Festival Orchestra in June 2017 at the Aldeburgh Festival; a tour of Hortus Musicae 1 and 2 by Clare Hammond in 2016, including performances in Welwyn, Derby and Yatton;  Saxton’s new song cycle Time and the Seasons, premiered by Roderick Williams and Andrew West in the Holywell Music Room at the Oxford Lieder Festival on October 16th 2013, and toured by them in March 2014, a work which was described as ‘haunting, elegaic’ by The Guardian and declared ‘delightful’ by a four star review in The Times.  2013 saw the premiere of Saxton’s new trumpet concerto Shakespeare Scenes, by Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan at Stratford upon Avon in May and then a further performance at the Bangor New Music Festival in 2014.  Clare Hammond premiered Hortus Musicae, Book 1 at the City of London Festival in June 2013. 

Recently recorded works are: Saxton’s ‘Little Prelude for John McCabe’ on the Divine Art CD A Garland for John McCabe;  the Toccata Classics CD of his piano music recorded by Clare Hammond, which features his recent Hortus Musicae 1 and Hortus Musicae 2; For Teresa for solo piano, commissioned by William Howard and released on the Sixteen Contemporary Love Songs CD by Orchid Classics.  In 2015 Signum released the SIGCD​​​​​​403 Psalm recording, which included an old (Psalm: A Song of Ascents, 1992) and a new (Shakespeare Scenes, 2013, described by Gramophone magazine as ‘splendid’) trumpet concerto, performed by Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan.  Other new works during the past few years include Vexilla Regis (2014), dedicated to Benjamin Nicholas and the choir of Merton College, Oxford on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the foundation of the college; Praeludium on the name George Frideric Handel, which was premiered at the Wigmore Hall on 3rd March 2015 by the Navarra Quartet; The Legend of King Herla (2015), commissioned by flute and harp duo Antara (Thomas Hancox and Rachel Wick), given numerous performances around the UK; String Quartet No. 4; and Our Father Whose Creative Will, written for Stephen Darlington’s Farewell Evensong on 7th July 2018 at Christ Church, Oxford. 

In 2016 Saxton was featured composer at the Presteigne Festival.  On 2nd January 2016 Saxton was the guest on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Composer of Tomorrow, when he gave a young composer masterclass.   In 2015 he was featured as composer of the first concert in the PLG Young Artists New Year Series and in that year his work Sonata for Brass Band on a Prelude of Orlando Gibbons was shortlisted by the BASCA Awards.  2014 saw the second year of Saxton’s post as Composer in Association at the Purcell School.

The programme will be conducted by Dr John Traill and will include also include works by two talented students of Saxton's, Deborah Pritchard and Samantha Fernando.  The concert will take place at 19.30 in the Holywell Music Room.  Tickets are free and full details may be found here.

UYMP congratulates  Robert Saxton on his 65th birthday and on so much fabulous music and wishes him many happy returns!

Photo credit: Katie Vandyck

(1 Nov 2018)

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