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Grainger for Choirs: An Introduction

  • Fri, February 24, 2023
  • 12:00 PM
  • Virtual via Zoom


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For Percy Grainger communal singing was the most direct and expressive form of musical expression. Grainger composed startlingly original choral music throughout his life, often based on his love of the literature of Kipling, Whitman, Swinburne, and others. His folk-song collecting activities in England and Denmark also informed his approach to choral composition, and form the basis of some of his best-known works for choirs.

Grainger for Choirs is the first of two presentations in the series, Grainger and Choral Music, and will include an illustrated overview of Grainger's  music for choirs, beginning with his early large-scale experiments in the setting of irregular rhythms, through his many and varied folk-song settings, to his lifetime's work on the Jungle Book Cycle. The presentation will consider the influence of language and dialect on Grainger's approach to both the composition and performance of choral music, together with the many ways in which his ideas of Free Music, music without pitch division or standard metre, also found their way into his choral writing. The one-hour presentation will conclude with an open Q&A and discussion.

Presenter Dr. Paul Jackson, President of the Percy Grainger Society, is a pianist, conductor, teacher, and musicologist, based in Cambridge, UK. He studied Music at the University of East Anglia, and Music Performance Studies at City University, London. He also holds a PhD in musicology, a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Following posts at the Royal College of Music and the University of Hertfordshire, he was Head of Music and Performing Arts, and Director of Music and Performance, for Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge from 1998 until 2018. As a conductor, he has a wide range of experience in orchestral, choral and operatic works, and has worked extensively in university contexts, directing City University Symphony Orchestra, the University of Hertfordshire Orchestra, Anglia Ruskin Orchestra and Chorus, and the contemporary music group Anglia Sinfonia. He has also directed the opera companies Welwyn Opera and Anglia Opera, and has conducted for Opera East. His publications include contributions to The New Percy Grainger Companion (2010), to Grainger Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2012), to John Ruskin and Nineteenth-Century Education (2018) and, most recently, to The Grainger Journal (2022). He is editor of The Grainger Journal, and is also currently preparing an edition of Percy Grainger’s Round Letters for publication.

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The Percy Grainger Society's programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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