The January issue of Choral Journal is online and features an interview article with Bob Chilcott and Tim Sharp. You can read it in its entirety online at acda.org/choraljournal. Following is a portion of the interview.
As a composer, conductor, and singer, Bob Chilcott has enjoyed a lifelong association with choral music, first as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and for twelve years as a member of the King’s Singers. He became a full-time composer in 1997 and has produced a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs, which is published by Oxford University Press.
His music has been widely recorded by leading British choirs and groups including The King’s Singers, King’s College, Cambridge, Wells Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, The Sixteen, Tenebrae, The BBC Singers, The Bach Choir, Commotio, and Ora. In 2016 he enjoyed a collaboration with the celebrated singer Katie Melua.
Sharp: What are your primary influences and inspirations for your choral compositions?
Chilcott: I have very broad musical tastes, and I think most of them are reflected in the music I write. As someone who has been a singer, I find the influence of music I have sung, particularly English Church Music, never goes away.
Jazz has also played a big part in my musical life. I love the voice. I love singers, predominantly singers of songs—Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Fritz Wunderlich, Joni Mitchell, Rosa Passos, Alison Kraus, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Randy Newman, and if you’re my age (or any age, for that matter!) The Beatles and early Elton John. I also love words. The power that songs and words have is their ability to conjure up whole worlds or stories, or glimpses of shared experiences, feelings, and senses in a brief moment of time. To try and distil these thoughts into a musical shape is something that really motivates my composing energy.
I am also by nature a melody writer. I like to shape phrases that I think people might enjoy singing. The connection a composer has with the singing voice is a very complex one, because singers are not only motivated by shapes that allow the voice and the breath to flow, but also by the visceral sound and meaning of words, and also the drama and the gesture of the piece that allows the singer the freedom to become the advocate of the song.
Sharp: How much time do you dedicate to composition? Tell us a little about “a day in the life of Bob Chilcott” and your way of working.
Chilcott: I have always been quite a disciplined composer. You have to be when you are working from home. I think it’s important to commit to deadlines and have a strong writing regime. The teapot, the telephone, and the television are never far away, and they all have to be resisted! I work office hours, normally between 9am and 6pm. An hour a day longer than Dolly Parton. I never work in the evenings or late at night.
View this full article (and more!) in the January 2020 issue of Choral Journal, available online at acda.org.