Here are my 10 music discoveries from the year, all of which can be watched freely on YouTube.
- The young Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds – a friend of mine – has a true gift for writing choral music of quality that touches the heart and is grateful to sing. Here is his piece Salutation, as sung at its August 2017 première in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge (I was there!) by the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain of which I am proud to be President. The conductor was another friend, Stephen Layton.
- Lovely singing from the young London-based vocal consort Siglo de Oro! They commissioned Owain Park – recently tagged by Gramophone magazine as ‘one to watch’ – to compose this subtle, expressive Lord’s Prayer setting.
- One of 12 new and irresistible songs for children’s choir, to fresh inventive words by Alasdair Middleton, by Jonathan Dove – a fabulously gifted composer who is fast becoming a national treasure. The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Boys’ Choir gives a high-spirited performance. I was there and was captivated.
- Heard this imaginative new piece by young Singaporean composer Darius Lim at the recent impressive and vibrant CEDROS choral festival in Mexico City.
- I remember struggling as a ten-year-old to play the recorder at school. What a joy after all these years to hear it played properly – virtuosically indeed – by Martin Bernstein, accompanied by my friends of the exciting new ensemble Baroquelyn in New York. The Handel recorder sonata they are playing is my rediscovery of an instrument I never knew could sound this good.
- Remember the Singers Unlimited, the inspiration behind all the great vocal groups who followed them? And Gene Puerling’s exquisite arrangements? I still treasure their vinyl albums. Well, here’s a loving re-creation of one of Gene’s finest charts, London by Night, from my very talented young friends VOCES8.
- Just watch this! A violinist’s left-hand finger movements are usually no more than a distant blur on a concert platform, but here they are, up close: two violin parts and just one violinist, Kerson Leong, Menuhin Competition prizewinner and dedicatee of my recent work Visions. It’s a movement by the 18th-century French composer Leclair, and it looks—as well as sounds—amazing.
- For a composer in his early twenties to be awarded a whole album devoted to his music – and recorded by The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge – there has to be something special there. There is . . . try it!
- This Billy Joel song, exquisitely arranged by Bob Chilcott, always tears my heart out. The King’s Singers have very much made it their own, and here’s the definitive performance.
- Elin Manahan Thomas will be singing this lovely and little-known piece at my Christmas Celebration concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on 4th December, and at Town Hall and Symphony Hall on 13th December.