My interest in composition began shortly after winning a scholarship to Charterhouse School and starting piano lessons. Having loved the Baroque composers ever since I started attending concerts in the Dorking Halls with my mother (to whom I owe my love of classical music), my first attempts at composition were pastiches in this style.
After reluctantly facing the fact that I was living in the 20th century rather than the 17th or early 18th, I started to develop a more contemporary style. Following in the footsteps of Vaughan Williams, Hindemith and, more recently, Arvo Pärt, I made a detailed study of music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ending up writing pieces which belong stylistically to the present day but which nonetheless draw inspiration from the past – sometimes the very distant past.
I went on to study music at Oxford University, choosing composition as one of my options. With no doors opening for a career in music after I finished my degree, my composition more or less ground to a halt, the process being aided and abetted by the harsh reality of needing to earn my keep! When my setting of Wilfred Owen’s poem Futility for tenor and piano was performed in Winchester in 1981, it was to be the last advertised public performance of any of my compositions for 37 years. This long silence was finally broken in June 2018, when the slow movement (Pastorale) of my sonata for flute and piano received two performances in the space of a week – in Brighton and Wadhurst. It received a third performance, along with the third movement ( Rondo) on 27th May 2023, by Klio Blonz (flute) and Jane Beament (Piano) of the Leto ensemble, which you can enjoy here:
Sonata for Flute and Piano, Pastorale, Rondo
Here are recordings of my two chorale preludes for organ – O come, O come, Emmanuel and O sacred Head sore wounded, recorded on the organ of Wadhurst Parish Church in October 2020.
O Come O Come, Emmanuel
O sacred Head sore wounded
Here is Karen Kingsley performing my Toccata for piano at the Friends’ Meeting House, Brighton,
on 2nd October 2021
Since returning to composition in late 2017, it has been a real privilege to hear several of my pieces performed and indeed, to take part in three performances of my choral works, One particular highlight was to be part of a choir singing my six-part motet O Vos Omnes during the sung Eucharist in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast in August 2019. Apart from this rather special occasion, most performances of my pieces up to now have taken place in the south east of England.
I am still working through some of the pieces I wrote between 1973 and 1981, but this is a list of my completed pieces as at June 2023
SACRED CHORAL MUSIC
Missa Finis Terrae for SSATB.
Congregational Gloria for unison voices and organ.
The “New Forest ” (or Phrygian Mode) Preces and Responses for SATB.
The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23) for SSATB, solo flute, 2 violins, viola and cello.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates (Psalm 24:7-10) for SSATBarB, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones and timpani.
Save Me, O God (verses from Psalm 69) for SATB and 3 trombones.
They that go down to the sea in ships (Psalm 107:23-26, 28-31) for SATB and organ
This is the day (Psalm 118:24) for SSATTB.
Out of the Depths (Psalm 130) for SSATBarB.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive (Isaiah 7:14) for SSATB.
Hark, the glad sound (words by Philip Doddridge) for SATB.
Verbum caro factum est (John 1:14) for SATB.
Hodie Christus natus est for SATB+SATB (i.e., double choir).
O Vos Omnes (Lamentations 1:12) for SSATBarB.
Hosanna to the Son of David (Matthew 21:9, Luke 19:38) for SATB.
I heard a voice from Heaven (Rev 14:13) for SSATBarB
String Quartet No. 1.
String Quartet No. 2.
Sonata for flute & piano.
Sonata for cello and piano.
Trio for flute, viola and harp.
Ricercar octavi toni for brass.
MUSIC FOR ORGAN
Prelude on O Come, O Come, Emmanuel .
Prelude on O Sacred Head sore wounded (Passion Chorale).
Fantasia on Adeste Fideles (O come all ye faithful).
Prelude on Rhyd-y-Groes (Great God of wonders).
‘Phrygian’ Toccata and Fugue.
MUSIC FOR BEGINNERS
Dorian Mode Fantasia for piano or harpsichord.
Springtime for violin and piano.
MUSIC FOR PIANO SOLO
Futility for tenor and piano (words by Wilfred Owen).
MUSIC FOR ORCHESTRA
Dance Suite in five movements.
Concerto Grosso for string orchestra.
John was born in Redhill, Surrey in 1958. He lives in a village near Heathfield, East Sussex. He and his wife are members of Mayfield Baptist Chapel, where he sometimes plays the organ. His other interests include railways, history, gardening and keeping guinea pigs.