John Rutter

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John Rutter
CBE
John Rutter.jpg
Born John Milford Rutter
(1945-09-24) 24 September 1945 (age 69)
London, England
Alma mater Clare College, Cambridge
Occupation Composer, conductor
Known for Founded the Cambridge Singers, prolific composer
Religion Agnostic [1]
Awards National Patron of Delta Omicron (1985)
Website
www.johnrutter.com

John Milford Rutter CBE (born 24 September 1945) is a British composer, conductor, editor, arranger and record producer, mainly of choral music.

Biography[edit]

Born in London, the son of an industrial chemist and his wife, Rutter grew up living over the Globe pub on London's Marylebone Road.[2] He was educated at Highgate School, where a fellow pupil was John Tavener,[3] before reading music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the choir. He served as director of music at Clare College from 1975 to 1979 and led the choir to international prominence.

In 1974, Rutter visited the United States at the invitation of choral musician Melvin (Mel) Olson and conducted the premiere of his cantata "Gloria" in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Witherspoon Hall of Joslyn Art Museum. The composition, commissioned by Olson's Voices of Mel Olson chorale, has become a much-performed favourite over the years.[citation needed]

In 1981, Rutter founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He resides at Duxford in Cambridgeshire and frequently conducts many choirs and orchestras around the world.

In 1980, he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music. In 2008, he was made an honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple while playing a significant role in the 2008 Temple Festival.

From 1985 to 1992, Rutter suffered severely from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome), which restricted his output; after 1985 he stopped writing music on commission, as he was unable to guarantee meeting deadlines.[4]

Rutter also works as an arranger and editor. As a young man he collaborated with Sir David Willcocks on the extraordinarily successful Carols for Choirs anthology series.

He was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity in 1985.[5][6]

Rutter is also a Vice President of the Joyful Company of Singers.


Compositions[edit]

Rutter's compositions are chiefly choral, and include Christmas carols, anthems and extended works such as a Gloria, the Requiem and the Magnificat.

The world premiere of Rutter's Requiem (1985), and of his authoritative edition of Fauré's Requiem, took place with the Fox Valley Festival Chorus, in Illinois. In 2002, his setting of Psalm 150, commissioned for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, was performed at the Jubilee thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral, London. Similarly, he was commissioned to write a new anthem, "This is the day which the Lord hath made", for the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011, performed at Westminster Abbey during the service.[7]

He has also written an opera for young people called Bang!

Rutter's work is published principally by Oxford University Press in England and by Hinshaw Music in the US. It has been recorded by many choirs, but he conducts his own recordings principally on his Collegium label.

Influences[edit]

Rutter's music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes[citation needed] has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment in addition to the standard piano/organ accompaniment, using various different instrumentations such as strings only, strings and woodwinds or full orchestra with brass and percussion.

Despite composing and conducting much religious music, Rutter told the US television programme 60 Minutes in 2003 that he was not a particularly religious man yet still deeply spiritual and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers.[8] The main topics considered in the 60 Minutes programme, which was broadcast a week before Christmas 2003, were Rutter's popularity with choral groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world and his composition Mass of the Children, written after the sudden death of his son Christopher while a student at Clare College, Cambridge, where Rutter himself had studied.

In a 2009 interview[citation needed] Rutter discussed his understanding of 'genius' and its unique ability to transform lives – whether that genius is communicated in the form of music or other media. He likened the purity of music to that of mathematics and connected the two with a reference to the discovery made by the early Greeks that frequencies of harmonic pitches are related by whole-number ratios.

Reception[edit]

Rutter's music is very popular, particularly in the USA (NBC's Today Show called him "the world's greatest living composer and conductor of choral music")[this quote needs a citation]. In the UK it receives a more mixed reception[citation needed]: most hold him in high regard, as illustrated by the following quotation from a review in the London Evening Standard (25/09/2005): "For the infectiousness of his melodic invention and consummate craftsmanship, Rutter has few peers," while one conservative British composer, David Arditti, didn't regard him as a sufficiently "serious" composer, saying that "Rutter ... is ... hard to take seriously, because of the way in which his sheer technical facility or versatility leads to a superficial, unstable crossover style which is neither quite classical nor pop, and which tends towards mawkish sentimentality in his sugarily-harmonised and orchestrated melodies."[9] The Guardian remarked that "it is as a writer of carols that he has really made his mark ... His larger-scale works – particularly the Gloria (1974), Requiem (1985) and Magnificat (1990) – are also well established in the choral repertoire."[10] David Willcocks considered Rutter "the most gifted composer of his generation."[11]

List of compositions and arrangements[edit]

Extended compositions[edit]

Carols[edit]

Choral works[edit]

  • A Gaelic Blessing for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices ("SATB") and organ or guitar, commissioned in 1978 by the Chancel Choir of the First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Nebraska, in honor of minister of music Mel Olson.
  • Birthday Madrigals for SATB, commissioned in 1995 by Brian Kay and the Cheltenham Bach Choir to celebrate the 75th birthday of George Shearing
  • Carols for Choirs 2 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
  • Carols for Choirs 3 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
  • Carols for Choirs 4 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
  • Dancing Day for SSA with harp or piano
  • Eight Childhood Lyrics
  • Eight Christmas Carols, Set 1 for mixed voices and piano
  • Eight Christmas Carols, Set 2 for mixed voices and piano
  • 100 Carols for Choirs ed. Willcocks and Rutter
  • Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1 for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
  • Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 2 for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
  • Child in a manger from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and keyboard or orchestra
  • Christmas Night for SATB and keyboard or strings
  • Come Down, O Love Divine for double mixed choir and organ
  • Cradle Song from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB unaccompanied
  • Donkey Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • Flemish Carol from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • For the Beauty of the Earth for SATB, SA, or TTBB, and piano
  • Gaelic Blessing
  • Here We Come a-wassailing from Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1
  • The Holly and the Ivy for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • Gloria for mixed voices with brass, percussion and organ or orchestra.
  • I Saw Three Ships from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • "I will sing with the spirit" for SATB and organ, piano or orchestra
  • Jesus Child for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • Jesus Child for unison and piano
  • Joy to the world! for SATB and keyboard or orchestra (2 trumpets, timpani and strings)
  • King Jesus hath a garden from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or flute, harp and strings
  • "Look At The World" for SATB and Orchestra
  • "The Lord bless you and keep you"
  • Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace for SATB or TTBB with organ or harp and strings
  • Love came down at Christmas for SATB and keyboard or strings
  • Mary's Lullaby for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • Nativity Carol for SATB and keyboard or strings
  • O come, O come, Emmanuel from Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1 for SATB and keyboard or orchestra
  • O Lord, thou hast searched me out for SATB chorus, organ and solo cor anglais (or clarinet, or viola)
  • "Psalmfest"
  • Quem pastores laudavere for SATB unaccompanied
  • Quittez, pasteurs for SATB unaccompanied
  • Shepherd's Pipe Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra or for SSAA and piano or orchestra
  • Sing we to this merry company for SATB and orchestra or organ
  • Star Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra or brass with optional children's voices or for unison and piano
  • There is a flower (original composition) for SATB unaccompanied
  • Three Carols from Carols for Choirs 4 for SS and SSA unaccompanied
  • Tomorrow shall be my dancing day from the cycle of carols, Dancing Day for SSA and harp or piano
  • "The Twelve Days of Christmas" from Carols for Choirs 2 for SATB and piano or orchestra
  • Winchester Te Deum For SATB and Piano or Organ
  • Wexford Carol for SATB unaccompanied
  • What sweeter music for SATB and organ or strings

Anthems and other compositions[edit]

Most of these works are original compositions, including new musical settings of standard texts, whilst others are arrangements of traditional hymns.

Music with narration[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4727014/The-carol-singers-shining-star.html
  2. ^ Macfarlane, Alan. "Interview with John Rutter". Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Famous OCs" (PDF). Highgate: The Cholmeleian Society. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week, John Rutter". YouTube. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Welcome To Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity". Delta Omicron. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  6. ^ "News". Delta Omicron. 29 March 2008. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  7. ^ "Order of Service". Telegraph.co.uk. 28 April 2011. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Rebecca Leung (11 February 2009). "Spreading Good Cheer". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  9. ^ "Expansive Poetry Online". Expansivepoetryonline.com. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Guardian, 22 December 2000". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "John Rutter: a Life". Classic FM. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 

Notations[edit]

External links[edit]