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Blog » Stephen Cleobury (19482019)

27 Nov  

The death of eminent choral conductor Stephen Cleobury last Friday, just a few month into his retirement, came as shocking news to those of us not in the cathedral music loop.  

 

Cleobury will chiefly be remembered as Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge, where he successfully maintained its world-class choral tradition for the better part of 40 years. Outside Cambridge he conducted the East Anglia Chamber Orchestra (for which he also served as honorary president) and was chief conductor of the BBC Singers from 1995 to 2007 before becoming their connector laureate. He was president of the Royal College of Organists from 1990 to 1992, continuing to give organ recitals throughout his career. Both as conductor and performer he leaves a substantial and highly-regarded discography.

 

He was a great supporter of contemporary music. At King’s he established the annual tradition of commissioning a composer to write a new carol for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. They included such figures as Peter Maxwell Davies, Lennox Berkeley, Judith Weir, Arvo Pärt, Jonathan Harvey, Thea Musgrave and Tansy Davies. As Director of the Cambridge University Musical Society he also recorded Alexander’s Goehr’s The Death of Moses and gave the first performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Sorecerer’s Mirror. 

 

Stephen Cleobury was appointed as CBE in 2009 and knighted this year for his services to choral music.

 

John Rutter: A Tribute to Sir Stephen Cleobury (including insights into the commissioning of the Festival of Nine Lessons Carol)



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