|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Saturday, August 13, 2022
|Stephen Cleobury, longtime leader of fabled choir, dies at 70|
Stephen Cleobury leads a rehearsal of the renowned Kings College Choir in Cambridge, England, on Nov. 29, 2018. Cleobury, who for 37 years was music director at Kings College, Cambridge - which among other things meant he led one of the most beloved holiday musical events on the planet, the Christmas Eve performance by the colleges celebrated choir - died on Nov. 22, 2019, in York, England. He was 70. Tom Jamieson/The New York Times.
by Neil Genzlinger
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- Stephen Cleobury, who for 37 years was music director at Kings College, Cambridge which among other things meant he led one of the most beloved holiday musical events on the planet, the Christmas Eve performance by the colleges celebrated choir died on Nov. 22 in York, England. He was 70.
Robin Tyson, his manager and a former choir member, said the cause was cancer.
Cleobury, who had stepped down from his post just this past September, was a well-regarded organist when he was named to the Kings College position in 1982. In addition to leading the Choir of Kings College, he oversaw assorted other choral groups and from 1995 to 2007 was chief conductor of the BBC Singers, the noted chamber choir.
But he was most often in the news in connection with the Christmas Eve performance, part of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a service in the Kings College Chapel broadcast on hundreds of radio stations around the world.
Cleobury recorded numerous albums with the choir and toured with it regularly, maintaining and enhancing its standing as one of the great guardians of a choral tradition stretching back centuries. The consistency and excellence of Kings Choir over the years is testimony to the benefits of standards and tradition, Jeremy Eichler wrote in The New York Times in 2004, reviewing a performance at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.
The choir is made up of boys from the Kings College School and undergraduates (known as choral scholars) from Cambridge University. The Christmas Eve performance begins with a single boy stepping forward and singing the opening of Once in Royal Davids City. Cleobury, after preparing several boys for the role, would choose the soloist just moments before the performance began.
What lies behind it is the idea that if you nominate a chorister a week or two weeks beforehand hes got quite a lot of time to get wound up about it, which we dont want to happen, Cleobury said in A Year at Kings, a BBC One film that documented the choirs 2018, culminating in the Christmas Eve concert. And moreover, even if you do that, that particular one might wake up on Christmas Eve with a sore throat. Its really down to whos in the best voice on Christmas Eve.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was a century old last year, and the choir itself dates to the 1400s, when King Henry VI created it. Cleobury was supremely conscious of the tradition, and at first, as he acknowledged to NPR in 2004, felt weighed down by it.
But I managed to get over that, he added. He had his various choirs explore new music.
I felt that a tradition must be nourished with new material, otherwise it fossilizes, he told the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2012. Part of what Ive had in mind is to try to go to composers who would not normally be thought of as writing for church choirs but who are working in mainstream music operas, symphonies, chamber and say, Heres a choir, would you like to write for us?
As part of that exploratory spirit, each year at the festival he would introduce a new carol. Some went over better than others with a certain tradition-steeped segment of the audience.
Could you tell me who had the idea of commissioning that carol, someone wrote to him one year when he included a carol by the modernist composer Harrison Birtwistle, because whoever did should be locked in a dark room and never let out.
Stephen John Cleobury was born on Dec. 31, 1948, in Bromley, southeast of London. His father, John, was a doctor, and his mother, Brenda (Randall) Cleobury, was a nurse.
As a boy he was part of the choir at Worcester Cathedral. He also began studying the organ. He continued those studies at St. Johns College, Cambridge, and served as organist and head of music at St. Matthews Church in Northampton. He also taught at Northampton Grammar School.
He became sub-organist at Westminster Abbey in 1974, a position whose duties included playing for daily services and assisting in conducting the choir. In 1979 he became master of music at Westminster Cathedral.
He continued to perform on the organ after taking the Kings College job and recorded numerous albums of organ music playing the Kings College Chapel instrument. He was knighted this year.
Cleoburys first marriage, to Penny Holloway, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Emma (Disley) Cleobury, whom he married in 2004; their daughters, Frances and Olivia; two daughters from his first marriage, Susannah and Laura; a brother, Nicholas; and a sister, Julia.
The Kings College Chapel, where many of Cleoburys recordings were made, is renowned for its acoustics; it is said that a note can reverberate for five seconds when the chapel is empty.
When its packed with hundreds of people, as it is for the Christmas Eve festival, the resonance is not so pronounced. But, Cleobury told The Boston Globe in 1986, it has a different sort of ambience that enhances the music: the darkness, the candlelight, the large number of people, and the curious sort of silence you get from a large number of people being quiet.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
December 7, 2019
Teen admits attempted murder of French boy at London gallery
For a colorful Brooklyn real-estate pioneer, a 376-year-old receipt
A wealth of surprises: Times critics' top art books of 2019
Tufts removes Sackler family name from facilities over opioid crisis
Artcurial's Furniture and Works of Art sale will showcase more than 350 lots of French and European decorative arts
Spanierman Modern opens an exhibition of works by Andy Moses
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston welcomes new Director
Stephen Cleobury, longtime leader of fabled choir, dies at 70
Playwright Arthur Miller's archive opens to researchers
Fashionable feathers: Italian designer's life in plumes
The Denver Art Museum installs first new works in new Native Arts Gallery
Kunstmuseum Luzern opens an exhibition of works by Fabian Peake
Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, Norway hires Solveig Øvstebø as Executive Director
1960 Daimler Dart sells for £36,800 at H&H Classics Auction Online December 4th
Patrick Church and Paddle8 announces storefront I Look For You In Everything
Works by Franz Richard Unterberger, Zhang Daqian, and Patek Philippe among the headline auction at Clars
John Gerrard's black smoke installation goes on show in Madrid to coincide with COP25
Silver Spitfire back in Britain after round-the-world trip
L'INCONNUE Gallery moving to New York in spring 2010
Prayer Chicago by James Webb brings people together at Winnipeg Art Gallery
COP25 arrives at IFEMA with a large exhibition of Michael Pinsky 'Pollution pods'
2019 recipients of the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists announced
Vittorio Grigolo, star tenor, fired for 'inappropriate' behavior
TAXISPALAIS Kunsthalle opens last chapter of a trilogy on everyday practices
SAAG opens new exhibitions by Laurie Kang and Delcy Morelos
Essential things to know about Frictionless Customer Experience
Profitable bets on Real Madrid after 1xBet apk download for Android
All soccer live scores as part of a proven resource
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.