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Programme Notes: Choral Music


Zarathustra's Roundelay  Opus 1

What a beginning! Ambitious, crazy, noisy, very short: the first and last performance. Written during the second year of my music degree at Manchester University. Apologies to Nietzsche and Mahler!!! For SATB and PIano, a recording exists on SoundCloud.

Manchester, 1972

Motet: Ne Recordaris Peccata Mea  Opus 2

A short motet written and performed in Manchester in 1973. 

Two German Partsongs  Opus 3

Short movements for SATB, settings of texts by Stefan Georg, written in Manchester, 1974 

Four Christmas Carols  Opus 12

The first, Adam Lay Ybounden, was written for the Madrigal of Luxembourg, conducted by Carlo Hommel, who performed it before and after Christmas, 1984 - the first time in St Michel, Luxembourg, the second at Arsdorf, the third at Trier. The others have been sung in various arrangements and versions on various occasions by Sotto Voce (Saeul Basilica, 11.12.1987) and by European School choirs and ensembles. 

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1984-87

Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis  Opus 15

Inspired by Stanford and Parry … and it shows! The first performance was given by Dirkjan Horringa and Trajecti Voces (Utrecht NL) at Bodegraven NL 29th September 1999, then 2nd October Breukelen, 3rd October Nistelrode, 15th October Pieterskerk, Utrecht, 18th December Rotterdam, St. Hillegonde. Further performances were given in London and Germany.

The Nunc Dimittis was played at my mother’s funeral, July 2000, and incorporated into the Requiem Op 72, with further performances at Nijmegen, Utrecht, Luxembourg and Trier, Autumn 2001. Recorded again at St Michel, Luxembourg 18th November 2001 and at St Matthias Basilika, Trier on 19th November 2001. It was broadcast in March 2002 on Netherlands Radio and received a performance by the Trier Bach Choir in the Constantine Basilika in 2018.

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1988  


Before Seven Years  Opus 34

Before Seven Years, Seven Years Ago, my grandmother died. Written on the anniversary, these choral vocalisations were performed by Eurocantica at a concert in Copenhagen, Denmark in November, 1989. 

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1989 


Mass in D  Opus 40 

I won my spurs with this work, on a first, nervous visit to the Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson, who liked it and introduced me to Barry Ould of Bardic Edition, who then published it in 1991.  The Mass in D was finished in 1989, although the Kyrie was written at Harrow some years before the rest, in great sadness one morning as I said good-bye to my mother, father and grandfather. It was substantially revised and orchestrated in 2003 and now takes its place beside the Missa Cambrensis (Welsh Mass) the Missa Brevis, the Requiem and the Requiem for Jan Palach. 

The idiom is essentially lyrical, with occasional blue and even sour notes to be heard. The Credo attempts to be a Credo of 'all the Faiths' in that the imitative dislocations undermine somewhat the tradition interpretation of this monotheistic text. Otherwise this is a more or less traditional setting, albeit with a background of quiet menace reflecting the troubled circumstances of its composition. It is dedicated to the memory of my father’s brother, Drum-Major Thomas Bullock, who died as I was writing it. 

I conducted the international choir Eurocantica in the first performance  in Cents, Luxembourg on  June 29th, 1990.  After the premiere it was performed several times more at Soleuvre, the Echternach Basilica on 7th July, 1990 and St Ignatius Church, Prague (27th and 28th October, 1991) There are reviews in TEMPO and LUXEMBOURG NEWS. The revised version was performed with orchestral accompaniment by VOX and Estro Armonico, in Luxembourg in summer 2005. A live CD recording was produced.

Harrow, England and Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1989

Article One  Opus 42

A setting of Article One of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, composed in a sitting - as usual - one night after a performance of my Mass in D and a few drams chez Roby Schiertz. The organ part was orchestrated for the Fanfare Royale Grand Ducale, which I conducted at the premiere. Further performances in Luxembourg were at the Fondation Pescatore on April 23rd, 1991, at the Municipal Theatre on July 15th, 1991 and at the church of St Michel (Human Rights concert, 20th January, 1992) 

Luxembourg, 1990 - One Movement  


Missa Cambrensis  Opus 53

Ymroddedig i fy mam a'm nhad ac Eglwys Sant Padarn yn Llanberis, Cymru. Fy ngwaith mawr cyntaf yn Gymraeg. Opus 53 = 1953, blwyddyn fy ngeni yn Llanberis. Ar gyfer Côr SATB, unawdydd soprano ac organ. Mae gan y symudiad cyntaf (Arglwydd-Kyrie) fwy nag awgrym o fotiff o'r gân 'Dafydd y Garreg Wen' - a fydd yn ailddigwydd trwy gydol yr Offeren, tra bod Gogoniant (Gloria) yn cychwyn gyda dau gord o Anthem Genedlaethol Cymru (Gwlad! Gwlad!). Yn Credaf (Credo) defnyddir alaw ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ fel cyfeiliant y mae’r côr yn dadlau’r testun yn unsain yn ei herbyn, gan roi ymdeimlad o’r traddodiad Cymreig a thechneg Cerdd Dant byrfyfyr ac ychydig wedi’i ddadleoli. Mae gan Sanctaidd (Sanctus) ddarnau ailadroddus tebyg i gloch yn yr organ, y mae'r côr yn datgan a chanmol yn eu herbyn, ac yna Hosanna yn dawnsio. Yn Bendigedig (Benedictus) mae’r unawdydd soprano yn canu dros ffigwr corawl braidd yn betrusgar cyn i’r Hosanna ddychwelyd a daw’r gwaith i ben gydag Oen Duw (Agnus Dei) gydag awgrymiadau o ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ ond yn bennaf yn dywyll a llwm gyda phumedau agored cyn a. dychwelyd i gerddoriaeth agoriadol y symudiad cyntaf. Collwyd y sgôr hwn am dros 25 mlynedd, ond cafodd ei ailddarganfod yn hapus ac yn rhyfeddol ym mis Ionawr, 2023.

Leudelange, Lwcsembwrg, 1991

Dedicated to my mother and father and the Church of St. Padarn in Llanberis, Wales. My first major work in Welsh. Opus 53 = 1953, the year of my birth in Llanberis. For SATB Choir, soprano soloist and organ. The first movement (Arglwydd-Kyrie) has more than a hint of a motif from the song ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ - which will recur throughout the Mass, whereas Gogoniant (Gloria) begins with two chords from the Welsh National Anthem (Gwlad! Gwlad!). In Credaf (Credo) the melody of ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ is used as an accompaniment against which the choir delaims the text in unison, giving a feel of the Welsh tradition and technique of improvisatory and slightly dislocated Cerdd Dant. Sanctaidd (Sanctus) has repetitive bell-like passages in the organ, against which the choir declaims and acclaims, followed by a dancing Hosanna. In Bendigedig (Benedictus) the soprano soloist sings over a somewhat hesitant choral figure before the Hosanna returns and the work ends with Oen Duw (Agnus Dei) with hints of ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ but mainly is dark and stark with open fifths before a return to the opening music of the first movement. This score was lost for over 25 years, but happily and suprisingly rediscovered in January, 2023.

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1991

Ein Tad (Pater Noster)  Opus 54

Dedicated to St Padarn’s Church, Llanberis, in honour of our many family connections … the instrumentation, SATB, organ and harp, is inspired by the Janacek Otce Nas - which I conducted in Prague with the combined choirs of St Ignatious and Eurocantica in October, 1991. This work is in Welsh.

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1991   


Salm 150  Opus 57

A tri-lingual setting (Welsh, German, Latin) for Double-Choir, an entry for the Gregynog Festival 

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1992    


Nant Gwrtheyrn  Opus 60

A piece for Male Voice Choir and Piano, this was written in 1992 as an Eisteddfod entry. I met the poet, Aled Rhys Wilam, at Castell Nedd Eisteddfod. He later visited me in Fachwen, but I was asleep!!!!!

Leudelange, Luxembourg, 1992


Ein Tad (Pater Noster)  Opus 66

A further setting of the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh, for Male Voice Choir and Piano. Dedicated to and recorded by Cor Meibion Dyffryn Peris, published by Curiad.

Limpertsberg, Luxembourg, 1993 

Requiem  Opus 72

This Requiem, like every other, is deeply personal. It was begun in 1994 following the death of my father, put aside, and completed at my house in Wales in the weeks following the death of my mother, in 2000.

Written for mixed choir, soprano solo and string orchestra, the seven movements are more or less based upon the texts and the format of the funeral service given for my mother. As well, some of the traditional Latin is used. The work includes settings of Psalm 121 and the Nunc Dimittis which also provides the final Meditation. The third movement, 'Death is nothing at all', for Soprano Solo, is the very core of the work, and its 'message'.

The story of the Requiem is quite amazing. It was written with great reluctance and very rapidly. Almost before the (digital) ink was dry, Dirkjan Horringa phoned from the Netherlands to ask if, by chance, I might happen to have a ….. Requiem! … for Trajecti Voces to perform in 2001. We never looked back!

The very beautiful performances given by the choir, orchestra and soloists and the inspired conducting of Dirkjan Horringa have had a profound effect on every audience. Miraculously, the recording of the most moving of the initial concerts is not only technically perfect but also free from the normal audience noises which all too often can intrude.

I regard both performance and recording as absolutely definitive, and am deeply grateful to all involved.

Fachwen, Wales, 2000

Four Shakespeare Songs  Opus 98    


Written in Luxembourg in 1997, these are four pieces of theatre music for unaccompanied low voices, in unison and two parts

What shall we have that killed the deer?

Blow, blow, thou winter wind

It was a lover and his lass

Wedding is Great Juno's crown

Buschdorf, Luxembourg, 1997  

Dehmel-Lieder  Opus 104

Three settings of poems by R. Dehmel for SATB a cappella



Die stille Stadt

Buschdorf, Luxembourg, 1997 


Missa Brevis  Opus 137

Written at great speed just after the Luxembourg and Trier performances of the Requiem opus 72. Performed in Utrecht and elsewhere in Holland, and in Luxembourg at St Michel and in a Cathedral Service. I wrote the optional Credo at the request of the Archbishop of Luxembourg in one hour on the day of the first Luxembourg performance! There is a live recording.

Canach, Luxembourg, 2001  


Oratorio: The Green Man  Opus 153

Written to a libretto by Richard Simmons, a celebration of pre-Christian ‘religion’ in the shape of the Green Man, to be found throughout England but particularly in this case inspired by the prolific examples which adorn Rochester Cathedral.

Fachwen, Wales, 2004

Motet: Ave Verum Corpus  Opus 154 

A setting of the latin text for choir and organ which has been recorded and widely performed.

Fachwen, Wales, 2004    


Von Leben und Tod  Opus 156  


Settings of three poems by  Rainer Maria Rilke for unaccompanied SATB choir.


O Leben Leben, wunderliche Zeit

Tränen, Tränen, die aus mir brechen    

Fachwen, Wales,  2005   


Te Deum  Opus 157

This festive Te Deum was written to celebrate the first ten years of VOX. Composed in March 2005, its atmosphere of joyful exuberance reflects not only a celebration of the choir, but also the historic Welsh victory in the Six Nations Rugby Championship achieved (and celebrated!) the day before composition began.

Canach, Luxembourg, 2005

Motet: Plachá modlitba za mamkino srdce  Opus 160

Following the tragic death of Denisa Krotilova, a young mother and the treasurer of Vox, the International Choir in Luxembourg, I wrote this piece very quickly at the end of a rehearsal. It was performed and recorded by VOX in Luxembourg, Mersch and Junglinster in June 2006, The beautiful text is by the Slovak poet Milan Rúfus

Grund, Luxembourg 2005 

Requiem for Jan Palach  Opus 182

This Requiem, written in July, 2008, does not offer visions of sanctity, paradise and redemption. Nor is it a celebration of life, or death. By adding to some of the traditional Latin text mighty lines from Jan Hus (some of which are inscribed on his monument in the Old Town Square in Prague), some graffiti   which appeared, very briefly, on the Wenceslas Monument just after Jan Palach’s death, and which were rapidly removed, and other words from the Prague of 1968 and 1969 as well as Article One of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the music seeks to confront the horror of a despairing suicide, the smell of petrol and burning flesh and desperation in the face of overwhelming political brutality.

Traditional consolation (in the shape, here, of two quotations from the sweetest of Requiems, that of Gabriel Fauré) is irrelevant, and thus violently dispensed with. Eternal Light is replaced by the incandescence of flames. Enduring values are sought. The hope implied by ethical statements is subordinated to the vital necessity of remembering.

The music is tonal, despite dissonance, and cyclical. Themes and motifs recur, particularly an organ phrase which seeks to evoke rising heat and flame. At times anguished, the music resolves into stable tonalities associated with enduring ethical concepts. In other places the treatment is almost bucolic, and perhaps with a feel of Bohemia. There is a place for innocence.

It has been an honour to write this work, in memory of Jan Palach and of the others who suffered, protested and fought for us all in Prague.


Toto requiem, složené během července 2008, neobsahuje vize svatosti, ráje a vykoupení. Ani není oslavou života nebo smrti. Cílem této kompozice, ve které bylo do tradičního latinského textu dodáno pár řádek z monumentálního husitského chorálu, několik graffiti a dalších hesel z Prahy z let 1968 a 1969, jakož i Článek 1 Všeobecné deklarace lidských práv Organizace spojených národů, je konfrontace hororu zoufalé osoby páchající sebevraždu, zápachu benzínu a hořícího lidského těla a beznaděje s všudypřítomnou politickou brutalitou.

Tradiční útěcha (zde ve formě dvou citací z nejsladšího requiem, requiem složeného Gabrielem Fauré) není relevalntní, a je tudíž obejita. Věčné světlo je nahrazeno žárem plamenů. Hledají se trvalé hodnoty. Naděje obsažená v morálních prohlášeních je podřízena zásadní potřebě nezapomenout.

Komponovat tuto skladbu, k uctění památky Jana Palacha a dalších, kteří trpěli, protestovali a bojovali v Praze za nás všechny, byl skutečný horor.

Navzdory disonancím, je tato hudba tonální a cyklicky komponovaná. Motivy a náměty se opakují, zejména varhanní motiv, jenž má evokovat rostoucí žár a plameny. Občas mučivá a úzkostná hudba se rozpouští do stálých a vyrovnaných tonalit, spojených s trvalými morálními hodnotami. Jiné pasáže skladby jsou skoro bukolické, a rovněž snad s českým nádechem. Je tam prostor pro nevinnost.


Dieses Requiem wurde im Auftrag von der tschechischen Botschaft in Luxembourg im Juli 2008 komponiert, am 29. Januar 2009 uraufgeführt und am 12. Februar 2009 in der St. Martinskirche zu Dudelange in Luxembourg aufgenommen. Das Requiem bietet keine Traumbilder an, weder von der Heiligkeit, noch von dem Paradies noch von der Erlösung. Um so weniger stellt das Werk ein Lebensfeier oder ein Todesfeier dar. Indem der Komponist dem herkömmlichen lateinischen Text die mächtigen Verse des Jan Hus (von denen einige auf dessen Denkmal in der Prager Altstadt geschrieben stehen), sowie einige Graffiti, die kurz nach dem Tod Jan Palachs auf dem Wenzelsplatz-Denkmal erschienen, um dann rasch wieder gelöscht zu werden, und andere Texte aus Prag der Jahre 1968 und 1969 zusammen mit dem 1. Artikel der Allgemeinen Erklärung der Menschenrechte der Vereinigten Nationen, hinzufügt, strebt er dem Schrecken eines verzweifelten Selbstmordes, dem Geruch des Kraftstoffes sowie des verbrennenden Fleisches und der Verzweifelung angesichts einer überwältigenden politischen Gewaltätigkeit entgegen.

Traditioneller Trost (hier dargestellt in Form von zwei Zitaten aus dem süßesten aller Requiems, das von Gabriel Fauré) ist irrelevant, und wird deshalb heftig entbehrt. Ewiges Licht wird durch die Weißglut der Flammen ersetzt. Dauerhafte Werte werden gesucht. Die Hoffnung mitinbegriffen durch ethische Erklärungen, wird der vitalen Notwendigkeit des Erinnerns untergeordnet.

Trotz ihrer Dissonanz ist die Musik tonal und zyklisch konzipiert. Themen und Motive kehren wieder, insbesondere eine Orgelfrase, die bestrebt ist die auflodernde Hitze und Flamme hervorzurufen. Zuweilen beängstigt, löst sich die Musik in stabilen Tonalitäten auf, die andauernden, ethischen Begriffen zugesellt sind. An andere Stellen ist die Handlung beinahe bukolisch, und vielleicht mit einem Hauch aus dem Böhmischen. Dort findet auch die Unschuld ihren Platz.

Es war eine Ehre, dieses Werk zu schreiben im Gedenken an Jan Palach und all den anderen, die für uns in Prag gelitten, protestiert und gekämpft haben.

Three Chinese Poems Opus 197

These short settings of poems by Wang Wei and P’ei Ti were written for my chamber choir, Mosel Voices, in 2011. We recorded them in Limpertsberg, Luxembourg in May 2012 and they can be found on You Tube and SoundCloud. The intensely evocative poems are 'The Sun Sets', 'On the Lonely Mountain' and 'The Pavilion of the Lake'.

Canach, Luxembourg, October 2011

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