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Andrew Gant PDF Print E-mail

Andrew Gant read Music and English at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he sang in the College Choir as a choral scholar under the late Dr George Guest, and where he won the Arthur Quiller-Couch prize for best creative work for the libretto of his opera, Blake. Later he was awarded his MMus and two composition prizes at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied composition with Paul Patterson.  His opera, The Basement Room, was written for the Academy’s opera school and performed both at the Academy and the Cambridge Festival.  In 2002 he was awarded the degree of PhD in composition and contemporary music by Goldsmith’s College, University of London, where he studied with Dr Sadie Harrison. 

He has sung with most of the UK’s leading ensembles, including The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, The Monteverdi Choir, and the Cambridge Singers.  He was first tenor and musical director of the Light Blues male-voice sextet, for whom he wrote many arrangements, and with whom he toured all over the world.  He sang with all the professional Church choirs in London, including a two-year period as a tenor Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey, before, in the early 1990s, moving from singing to directing choirs.  Subsequently he held posts at Selwyn College, Cambridge, The Royal Military Chapel (The Guards Chapel), Wellington Barracks, London, and Worcester College, Oxford.  With each choir he has performed regular concerts in the UK and abroad, and made recordings and broadcasts.  In September 2000 he took up the post of Organist, Choirmaster and Composer at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal. 

In that role Dr Gant is responsible for the music in the two chapels at St James' Palace, and the training of the choir of six Gentlemen-in-Ordinary, who are professional singers, and ten Children of the Chapel, boys who hold scholarships at the City of London School.  The choir's principal duty is to sing the weekly choral service on Sunday mornings, although they are also usually much in evidence at State occasions, for example, at the Queen’s 80th birthday service at St Paul’s Cathedral, the service of Thanksgiving for the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, the annual Remembrance Day Parade at the Cenotaph, the annual service of the Royal Maundy, at the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, and most recently at Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee.   

The choir’s most recent CDs are Carols from Buckingham Palace on Classic FM records, Music at the Coronation of James II on Signum, and Handel: Anthems for the Chapel Royal on Naxos, which was Norman Lebrecht’s CD of the week in the London Evening Standard.  The choir has worked closely with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Master of the Queen’s Music, who has written five works specially for them and two other large-scale choral and orchestral works in which the choir has taken part.  Gant has been the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary, and in recent years he and the choir have featured regularly on both TV and radio, including a three-part series on Radio 3’s The Choir with Aled Jones, a major TV series, Working Monarchy, and an annual Christmas concert from the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace, broadcast on Classic FM. Films associated with major events include those based upon the Queen’s 80th Birthday Prom and the 10th anniversary service of thanksgiving for the life of Diana, Princess of Wales

Today Andrew Gant is widely known as an established composer and conductor, and he is a lecturer in Music at St Peter’s College and St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.  As a composer, one of his most substantial works to date is the jazz-inspired oratorio based upon the colourful medieval English text, The Vision of Piers Plowman.  The recipient of the Elgar Commission from the 2002 Worcester Three Choirs Festival, The Times hailed the oratorio as “ingenious…effective…[and] fun”.  Highly regarded as an operatic composer, his writing in the a capella five-voice opera, May we borrow your husband? commissioned for the 1999 Lichfield Festival was highlighted as being “excellent” (The Independent), “very skilful” (Opera), and “dramatically just right” (Festival Music Matters, BBC Radio 3) at its première. In 2008 the Worcester Three Choirs Festival hosted the world première of the British Symphony, a 40-minute work of five movements which uses traditional folk-song to show how the countries of the British Isles can unite in their music. 

More recently he has composed a Requiem for SATB choir and three violas, premièred by the choir of Worcester College, Oxford, a setting for contralto and organ of O sacrum convivium, and wedding music for organ, first performed by the composer in Rome.  Excellently Bright is an eight-minute work for SATB choir and two horns written for Encoro, and conducted by Janet Lince.  The first of two operatic commissions, Don't go down the Elephant was premiered by Patricia Rozario, and the second, Never let me go, a re-working of a story by Hilary Mantel, is in progress. The composition of these two operas has been funded by a scholarship from the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation.

Andrew Gant's choral music includes four settings of the Evening Canticles, written to commission for choirs in the UK and Canada, including that of St John's College, Cambridge.  His setting of the words of the introit Ave Verum Corpus has proved immensely popular in the UK and in the States, and has been performed at St Paul's Cathedral, the American Choral Director's Association in San Antonio, Texas, and in the BBC Choir of the Year competition.  It is published by Oxford University Press. In 2011 he set one of the traditional Marian texts, Ave Regina Caelorum, for The Marian Ensemble, with funds from The Finzi Trust. 2012 additions to the choral catalogue include a Missa Brevis, premiered by Sonos at the 2012 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music and Ubi Caritas et Amor, commissioned for the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge in May 2012, and given its London premiere later that month.  For the American market, he has composed a setting of the Creed for choir and organ with optional brass and hand-bells, entitled I believe in the living God.

Music for young people includes two Arts Council/Youth and Music commissions for primary schoolchildren in the North-East of England. Red Priest, Green Wellies is an introduction for young people to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and George and the Knife-Swallower, an introduction to the music of Handel.  Both are written for upper-voice choir and ensemble. Dear Mr Cook is a peripatetic adventure based on the life and writings of Thomas Cook, commissioned by the Leicester Festival and written for children's choir, SATB choir, soloists, and small ensemble.  In 2011 the Children of the Chapel Roay gave the first performance of a companion piece for Britten's Ceremony of Carols entitled This have I done for my true love, and he has also composed a set of Season Songs for unison voices with piano and optional additional vocal lines.

For Andrew Gant's website, visit www.andrewgant.co.uk.

 

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