Connection and Inspiration
It was at Chichester where the family of one of Reading Phoenix Choir’s members, Howard Jenner, met Walter Hussey. Both Howard and his elder brother Anthony were choristers at Chichester Cathedral in the 1960s, and one of their most striking memories was of a newly commissioned piece by Bryan Kelly. If you listen to his Magnificat in C today it still sounds fresh and exciting.
Walter Hussey believed that not only was there an important duty to foster the continuation of our choral tradition, but also that composers should be paid for what they do as they need to make a living just the same as anyone else. It should be noted that it wasn’t just new music that Walter Hussey promoted. He was also involved in commissioning works of art from such distinguished artists as Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, John Piper and Marc Chagall.
Inspired by the memory of the work of Walter Hussey, the idea for a composition competition evolved. Reading Phoenix Choir have commissioned a number of works over their 50 year history, and in 2016 were involved in the premiere of a new joint project between Bob Chilcott and Age UK in Oxfordshire, so the opportunity to create their own composition competition was too good to pass up.
And so the Walter Hussey Composition Competition was born.
Reading Phoenix Choir
Performance is the lifeblood of the group and, for 50 years, the choir has given up to 20 concerts a year at a range of beautiful churches and concert halls. During this time, they have always aimed to produce musical artistry of the highest calibre, as well as raising over £300,000 in support of various charities.
In 2007, the choir were lucky enough to sing at the Royal Albert Hall after winning the British Heart Foundation Scratch Choral Challenge, and in November 2016 they made their fourth appearance at the Brandenburg Choral Festival in London.
Previous tours abroad have included America, Russia and many countries across Europe. On previous trips the choir have sung mass at Notre Dame Cathedral and received a standing ovation at Voronezh Opera House. Over the years, many choir exchanges have been undertaken including with choirs from Voronezh, Matera in Italy, the Dvorak Choir from the Czech Republic and choirs from Sacramento and Helsinki.
In 2018 the choir embarked on its first concert tour of northern Spain, and in 2019 they toured Herefordshire including a concert in Hereford Cathedral where Golden Day by Gerson Batista and Gold Leaves by Ethan McGrath, both pieces from the 2018 Walter Hussey Composition Competition were performed.
For more information, please visit: www.readingphoenixchoir.com