Ronald Geoffrey Corp OBE (born January 4, 1951) is a composer, conductor, and Church of England priest. He is founder and Artistic Director of the New London Orchestra (NLO) and the New London Children's Choir. Corp is Musical Director of The London Chorus, a position he took up in 1994, and is also Musical Director of the Highgate Choral Society.
Ronald Corp was born and grew up in Wells, Somerset, later studying music at Oxford University. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to music.
New London Orchestra
See also New London Orchestra
When Ronald Corp founded the New London Orchestra in 1988, his conducting career was launched: engagements have included concerts and recordings with many orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as well as appearing at the BBC Proms.
Through his role as conductor and Artistic Director, Corp programmes and aims to bring to life repertoire written in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries which is rarely heard in concert. His introductions from the stage are a key part of his mission to make music more accessible. Together with the New London Orchestra, his championing of neglected music has resulted in some 20 recordings with Hyperion Records which feature composers such as Milhaud, Satie, Elinor Remick Warren, Virgil Thomson, John Foulds and the Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz; and a series of Light Music Classics, four of them of British, and one each of American Light Music Classics and European Light Music Classics.
The issue in late 2010 by Corp and the NLO of the first digital recording of Rutland Boughton's opera The Queen of Cornwall was designated 'Disc of The Month' in Opera magazine, March 2011and 'Editor's Choice' in Gramophone, September 2011.
New London Children’s Choir
See also New London Children's Choir
The New London Children’s Choir was launched by Ronald Corp in 1991 with the aim of introducing children to the challenges and fun of singing and performing all types of music. The Choir is one of the busiest and most successful children’s ensembles in the country and has commissioned more than 40 new pieces and premiered numerous other works by composers including its patrons Louis Andriessen and Michael Nyman. It has performed frequently at the Proms, made a number of film soundtrack and TV recordings, including the soundtrack to Star Wars Episode 1, 'The Phantom Menace' and been engaged for concerts and recordings with all the major London orchestras and opera companies. The choir and its members have appeared regularly in major London concert halls working with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and sing onstage at the English National Opera.
Ronald Corp began writing music at a very early age. Learning the piano gave him a means of hearing and notating the pieces. He wrote throughout his teens and his undergraduate days at Oxford.
The list of his compositions is extensive and dominated by works for voice, whether solo, for small vocal groupings, church choirs or massive choral societies – Highgate Choral Society and the London Chorus have been regular performers over the years. His first major choral work And All the Trumpets Sounded was premiered in 1989 by Highgate Choral Society, the composer stating, "My piece focuses on war, the dead and the trumpets of the last judgement". Five years later, and combining text from the Te Deum with Wordsworth and Hopkins, the cantata Laudamus was premiered to great critical acclaim at St John's, Smith Square by the London Choral Society (now the London Chorus). In 2003 BBC Radio 3 commissioned a major work for the BBC Singers – an a cappella setting of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach.
Following his work with youth choruses and the formation of the New London Children's Choir, Corp also established himself as a composer for young voices. On the strength of this reputation, he was commissioned to write for the Farnham Youth Choir who were winners of their section in the 'Sainsbury Choir of the Year' (1998), resulting in Four Elizabethan Lyrics to texts by Shakespeare, Dekker, Jonson and Chidiock Tichborne. Other substantial works for children’s choir include Cornucopia, a cycle of songs with orchestra (1997), and its successor Kaleidoscope (2002) which includes a setting of 'The Owl and the Pussycat'. His Christmas opera Wenceslas was premiered by the New London Children's Choir in 1982 and revived in 2008, while a more recent children's opera, The Ice Mountain, had three performances in 2010-11 by the same choir, and has been recorded.
His interest in literature is evident in the many song-sets devoted to settings of a single poet, e.g. The Music of Francis Thompson which received its première at Benslow Music Trust in January, 2010. An earlier set, The Music of Whitman, had its première at the 2011 Tardebigge English Song Festival in Worcestershire, performed by Mark Stone (baritone) and Stephen Barlow (piano); while The Music of Browning was first performed in October of the same year as part of the Little Venice Music Festival with Robert Presley (baritone) and Andrew Robinson (piano). In March 2013, the baritone Lee Tsang premiered The Music of Larkin at Middleton Hall in Hull, Yorkshire. There are also discrete songs such as the humorous The Bath, and song-cycles such as Flower of Cities which takes London as its unifying theme.
Among his orchestral works are Symphony No. 1 (2009) which evokes "a journey from darkness to light" and the programmatic triptych Guernsey Postcards (2004) with its depictions of a local fair, Pembroke Bay and St. Peter Port, commissioned by the Guernsey Camerata.
Another large-scale work is the Piano Concerto No.1 (1997) which has received three performances by pianists Julian Evans and Leon McCawley and was described by one critic as,
"... possibly the most winningly successful British Piano Concerto of the last forty years or so. It is, wholly exceptionally, very well written in true virtuoso pianistic style."
On Saturday 9 July 2011, Corp celebrated his 60th birthday year at the Royal Festival Hall in London with a performance of And All the Trumpets Sounded and the world première of The Wayfarer (In Homage to Mahler) for 16 solo singers and orchestra – a setting of two of Mahler's own poems from his Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and of his early poem 'Im Lenz'. Ronald Corp conducted the NLO, and the combined forces of Highgate Choral Society, The London Chorus and the New London Children's Choir were deployed in the rest of the concert. A pre-concert talk took place with Corp in conversation with Richard Morrison.
On 23 November 2011 a new anthem Laudate Dominum was performed at the Festival of St. Cecilia Service at Westminster Cathedral. This had been specially commissioned by the Musicians Benevolent Fund and was sung by the combined choirs of Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral under Martin Baker.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee was celebrated by a special concert given at the Barbican by Highgate Choral Society and the NLO on Saturday 9 June 2012, to include the première of This Sceptr'd Isle by Corp, a stirring seven-minute setting of text from Shakespeare's Richard II, the orchestra replete with surging sea-imagery and fanfares for four trumpets.
More detailed information on Corp's life as a composer can be found on the Ronald Corp website.
An interest in Buddhist literature is reflected in his setting of parts of the Dhammapada (2010) for eight solo singers (or SATB choir) interspersed with recordings of bells at temples sacred to the Buddha; and the cycle Songs of the Elder Sisters (from the Therigatha) for mezzo-soprano, baritone, alto flute, clarinet and viola. The latter was recorded in February 2012 with Sarah Castle (mezzo-soprano) and Sam Evans (baritone) while Dhammapada had been recorded and released by Stone Records in 2011.
Andrew Stewart writes: "How does the composer respond to those who question why a Christian minister was drawn to set a fundamental Buddhist text? Dhammapada, he says, was created to open dialogue among faiths: 'It’s about inviting people to open their ears and minds to spirituality. These words, thought to be by the Buddha himself, tell us essential truths, which stand against cynical and untrusting ways of seeing the world and our place in it.' Dhammapada contemplates the corrupting force of material things and the transience of wealth, beauty and power."
The music critic Michael Church reviewed the recording thus: "...Set for small choir, it becomes a beguiling work, full of scrunchy dissonances but graceful to the ear", designating it 'Album of the Week' in The Independent, 29 January, 2011.
Also recorded in May 2012 were the String Quartet No. 3, the Clarinet Quintet 'Crawhall' and The Yellow Wallpaper for mezzo-soprano and string quintet, all composed in 2011. In these, the Maggini String Quartet are joined by Andrew Marriner (clarinet), Rebecca de Pont Davies (mezzo-soprano) and John Tattersdill (double bass). Regarding the subtitle of 'Crawhall' for the Quintet, Ronald Corp states:
"Joseph Crawhall (1821–1896) was an engraver, writer, businessman, patron of arts, book designer, collector of antiquities, campaigner for the perseveration of architecture and a significant character in the life of Newcastle. His colourful life and wonderful woodblock illustrations have inspired this clarinet quintet which I hope gives some flavour of this most remarkable and likeable man."
The Yellow Wallpaper is a dramatic scena with text by Francis Booth adapted from the short story of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This work continues the current trend for chamber compositions and unconventional instrumental/vocal groupings: Lullaby for a Lost Soul features a setting for counter-tenor, vibraphone, flute and cello with re-imaginings of the melancholy music of John Dowland. The text follows themes of loss, death and helplessness. It was recorded in September 2012.
In January 2013, three of these works, The Yellow Wallpaper, Songs of the Elder Sisters and Lullaby for a Lost Soul were performed at the event 'Corp de Ballet' in collaboration with The Chantry Dance Company for a CD launch at the Village Underground, Shoreditch, London.
Recordings of Music by Ronald Corp
Beside the recordings shown in the Discography below, other of the recorded compositions of Ronald Corp include:
- And All the Trumpets Sounded performed by The London Chorus, Mark Stone (baritone) and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Corp on Dutton Epoch (2011).
- Five Flower Songs, Spring (When Daisies pied), Give to my Eyes, Lord and 'At Day-close in November' plus children’s choir works by other composers on Pigs Could Fly, performed by the New London Children's Choir on Naxos (2008).
- Susanni sung by Worcester Cathedral Choir under Donald Hunt on the disc Joy to the World – A selection from The Novello Book of Carols on Hyperion/Helios (2003).
|Disc Title||Contents||Performers||Label and Catalogue Number||Recording and
|Forever Child and Other Choral Music||Forever Child
cond. by Ronald Corp
|[Orchestral Works]||Guernsey Postcards
Piano Concerto No. 1
|The Songs of Ronald Corp||The Music of Housman
The Music of Whitman
|Mark Stone (baritone)
Simon Lepper (piano)
|String Quartets||String Quartet No. 1 'The Bustard'
String Quartet No. 2
|Maggini String Quartet
Marke Wilde (tenor)
|Dhammapada||Dhammapada||Apsara Chamber Choir
cond. by Ronald Corp
|The Ice Mountain||The Ice Mountain (an opera for
children's voices and small ensemble or
|The New London Children's Choir
Members of New London Orchestra
|Things I didn't say||Things I didn't say (Steve Mainwaring)
The Revival (Henry Vaughan)
|Apsara Chamber Choir
Edward Batting (organ)
|String, Paper, Wood||String Quartet No. 3
The Yellow Wallpaper
|Rebecca de Pont Davies
List of Compositions
The music of Ronald Corp is published by Boosey and Hawkes (BH), Chester Music (C), Colla Voce (CV), Faber Music (F), Novello (N), Oxford University Press (OUP), Royal Society of Church Music (RSCM), Stainer and Bell (SB), Trinity Guildhall (TG) and the Ronald Corp website (RC). Where no publisher is given, please refer to the Ronald Corp website which is also undertaking a project to publish the other listed works.
Programme notes, music excerpts and links to publishers and score purchasing facilities can be found on the Ronald Corp website.
Songs, Song-cycles and Song Sets
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2011.
- "Press Office – BBC Proms 2007: Proms extras". BBC. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 18 Oct 2010.
- "Bacewicz: Music for string orchestra". Hyperion CDA67783. 2009. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- Fairman, Richard. Review in Opera online magazine, March 2011, "The Queen of Cornwall, Boughton". opera.co.uk. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- 'Disc of the Month' citation at the Association of British Orchestras "New London Orchestra". abo.org.uk. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- Cited on Presto Classical website, "Gramophone Magazine 'Editor's Choice'". prestoclassical.co.uk. September 2011. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- Programme note for the Royal Festival Hall performance on 9 July, 2011. Full text at "And All the Trumpets Sounded – Programme Notes". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- See critical reception recorded on the composer's website under "Reviews of Laudamus". Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Benslow Music Trust: Concerts". benslowmusic.org. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Première of The Music of Whitman". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- "Première of The Music of Browning". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- Programme note by Ronald Corp for the recording on Dutton Epoch CDLX 7233. Full text at "Symphony No. 1 – Programme Notes". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- Matthew-Walker, Robert. Review in Musical Opinion cited on the composer's website under "Reviews of Piano Concerto No.1". Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Maggini Quartet – Mozart, Mendelssohn, Corp". InstantEncore. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "60th Birthday Concert". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- "Festival of Saint Cecilia Service". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebration Concert". ronaldcorp.com. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- Stewart, Andrew. "Ronald Corp at 60: A Life in Music". ronaldcorp.com. January, 2011. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- Church, Michael. The Independent newspaper cited at "Album of the Week: Ronald Corp – Dhammapada". stonerecords.co.uk. January, 2011. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013.
- "Corp de Ballet". chantrydancecompany.org. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Corp: And All the Trumpets Sounded and Michael Hurd: The Shepherd's Calendar". Dutton Epoch CDLX 7280. 2011. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Hark! Chantage at Christmas: Various Composers". EMI Gold 5 099923 579620. 2008. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Pigs Could Fly: Various Composers". Naxos 8.572113. 2008. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Joy to the World: Various Composers". Hyperion CDH88031/Helios CDH55161. 2003. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Praise on High: Various Composers". Lammas Records LAMM 117D. 1999. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Corp: Forever Child and Other Choral Music". Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Corp: Guernsey Postcards, Piano Concerto No. 1, Symphony No. 1". Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "The Songs of Ronald Corp". Stone Records. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Ronald Corp: String Quartets". Naxos. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Dhammapada". Stone Records. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Ronald Corp: The Ice Mountain". Naxos. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "Things I didn't say". Stone Records. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- "String, Paper, Wood". Stone Records. Retrieved 16 Aug 2013.
- Ronald Corp website
- Ronald Corp on Stone Records
- Ronald Corp on Hyperion
- Ronald Corp recordings on iTunes
- The Independent newspaper interview with Edward Seckerson on 28 June 2011
- Audio clip of the Clarinet Quintet 'Crawhall', third movement – Allegretto grazioso played by Andrew Marriner and the Maggini String Quartet
- Video of excerpt from Dhammapada performed by Apsara Chamber Choir directed by the composer
- Video of Ronald Corp's setting of 'The Owl and the Pussycat' performed by Mark Stone and Simon Lepper
- Video of excerpts from the 2012 recording of Songs of the Elder Sisters with the Chantry Dance Company
- Archive of premières and significant performances of Ronald Corp's music 2007–2012
- Bacewicz Music for Strings on Hyperion