A composer of often highly expressive and lyrical chamber, vocal, choral, orchestral and dramatic works, it is a great pleasure to welcome English composer Peter Copley to the Composers Edition family. Following studies at the Royal Academy of Music and Akademia Muzyczna, Kraków Copley returned to his home county of Sussex from where he has made an incomparable contribution to musical life over more than four decades. His commitment to orchestras, festivals, choirs and musicians in the region, both professional and amateur has led to a regular stream of public and private ccommissions, performances and broadcasts, often with the finest performers including trumpeter John Wallace, pianist Margaret Fingerhut, bass Sir John Tomlinson, and conductors Barry Wordsworth and Szymon Kawalla. Choral music also plays an important role with numerous performances by regional choirs and beyond, including the BBC Singers.
Frequently inspired by humanitarian and historical topics, recent compositions by Copley include music for the play Prison Dialogues (Brighton Festival 2021) and Music of Exile for viola and 13 solo strings, an Arts Council England funded collaboration with exiled Syrian viola player Raghad Haddad, incorporating Arabic folk scales.
Those who have commissioned and performed Copley’s works will doubtless celebrate the opportunity for broader reception that publication with Composers Edition will support. We look forward to working with Peter in this his 60th year – watch out for news of a special birthday concert planned for March 2022!
I am very happy to be joining the Composers Edition family. As I near sixty, I welcome the opportunity it gives for wider dissemination of my work. I was particularly recommended to apply to join by a clarinettist friend and colleague, Philip Edwards who has performed a number of my works in recent years, particularly at the New London Wind Festival concerts. On visiting the website, I was delighted to see names of composers whose work I admire listed and that was more than enough persuasion for me to take the plunge!Peter Copley
for piano solo
Aubade for Piano was commissioned by Margaret Fingerhut to whom it is dedicated. My intention was to write a kind of companion piece to Britten’s Night Piece (1963). The first performance was given by Margaret Fingerhut at Altes Rathaus, Vienna on the 24th October 2017 and subsequently at St Luke’s Church, Brighton on the 2nd February 2018.
meditations on a chorale melody for wind quartet
The chorale melody ‘Die Nacht ist Kommen’ can be found in Albert Riemenschneider’s collection of J.S.Bach’s complete chorale harmonisations (number 231). An arrangement of this version opens the present work and closes it but what happens in between is not so much a meditation on Bach as on the melody itself. Every section of the piece uses the melody in some form and some of the transforming techniques are analogous to those used by Bach in his Chorale Preludes and Chorale Variations. However, I was not in any way trying to write ‘Neo-Baroque’ music but simply to take the melody, as Bach did, as my starting point and also as a point of return.
‘Die Nacht ist Kommen’ was mostly composed in 2007 and is dedicated to the Southern Winds quartet.
for clarinet in Bb and piano
Fantasy Sonata was composed in late summer – Autumn 2005.
As its title implies, Fantasy Sonata follows in a long tradition of compositions that combine in a continuous movement some of the contrasting elements of a multi movement piece. To some commentators, this implies a rhapsodical looseness of structure but that was certainly not my creative intention in this work. A possible model at the back of my mind when composing, in terms of general architectural proportions, although certainly not in musical language, was John Ireland’s Fantasy-Sonata (1943), written for the clarinettist Frederick Thurston and to my mind one of the finest works for clarinet and piano composed in the last century.
for SATB choir and organ
Missa Brevis was composed for Piers Vaughan and the choir of St Paul’s, Brighton in 1989. It was first performed liturgically by them in November 1990. The first concert performance was given by the Brighton Consort at St Peter’s Church in the May 1991 Brighton Festival. The present version incorporates some minor revisions made in 2007 when the work was transcribed on to Sibelius. Further minor revisions were made in January 2018.
for bass solo, chorus and orchestra
An oratorio portrayal of the Columbus Day meeting at the University of Salamanca 12th October 1936. A key moment in the Spanish Civil War, the incident led to the house arrest of writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, at the time Rector of the university, who died just 2 months later. Based on several sources including Antony Beevor’s history of the Spanish Civil War and Luis Portillo’s 1941 published account of the day it tells the story from Unamuno’s perspective whilst under house arrest. It also includes a setting of Unamuno’s own poem La nevada es silenciosa (the snowfall is so silent).
for clarinet in Bb, violin, viola and cello
Scherzos and Arias was composed between January and November 1992 and was based on a misunderstanding. When I was invited to compose a ‘Clarinet Quartet’, being a string player, I naturally assumed the present combination of instruments. It was only when I was well underway that it transpired that what was meant was a piece for four clarinets. Nonetheless, I pressed on and the present work resulted (the four-clarinet piece never did get written!). The five movements are all based on the same material but the contrasts between them are intended to be more apparent than their underlying unity which is latent rather than manifest.
version for SATB choir and organ (with English or Latin text)
Short Mass was composed in the summer of 2020 as some lockdown restrictions were starting to be removed and singing was once more permitted in churches. At St Bartholemow’s Church, Brighton, this was initially limited to a single cantor with organ and so the setting was originally conceived for just these forces with an English text. However, I subsequently produced a version of this for SATB and organ and also slightly revised versions for both forces setting instead the Latin text.
version for solo voice and organ (with English or Latin text)
Short Mass was composed in the summer of 2020 as some lockdown restrictions were starting to be removed and singing was once more permitted in churches. At St Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton, this was initially limited to a single cantor with organ and so the setting was originally conceived for just these forces with an English text. However, I subsequently produced a version of this for SATB and organ and also slightly revised versions for both forces setting instead the Latin text.
for SATB choir
Two Carols were composed in the summer of 2012 as a silver wedding present for Lucinda Haughton and Stephen Charlesworth. They were first performed by the BBC Singers at a broadcast concert from the Temple Church, London winter festival on the 15th December 2017. They may be performed, either by choirs or single voices. If the former, ‘solo / tutti’ directions should be observed. If the latter, the minimum forces required are six voices: SSAATB for Balulalow and SSATBB for Sir Christèmas. Sir Christèmas is also available in a version for male voices (AATBaBB), transposed down one tone.
for clarinet in Bb, violin and piano
Three Epitaphs were written between 1996 and 1999 as reactions to the deaths of three friends. While they may be played and understood as abstract music, each has specific connotations with the person in whose memory it was composed.
Dudley Hyams (1942-1998) was a talented but largely unrecognised composer.
Joanne Johnson (1972-1997) was also a gifted composer who died in tragic circumstances at the age of only twenty-five.
Tracey Chadwell (1959-1996) was a singer of phenomenal musicality and artistry.
for SATB choir
Three Medieval Carols were composed in March 1997 for Neil Jenkins and the Brighton Chamber Choir. They were first performed at St Peter’s Church, Brighton in December 1997. They were transcribed on to Sibelius in January 2018 with some minor revisions.
for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon
My Wind Quintet was composed in 1995 and is dedicated to the Susira Wind Quintet, who gave its first performance at the 1996 Brighton Festival. It was revised in December 2020. The starting point in its composition was my reading of an essay by the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołokowski entitled ‘In Praise of Inconsistency’. I wanted to write a piece where completely disparate elements existed side by side, rather than one where a concept of ‘organic’ unity relates everything to everything else. The problem is that inconsistency itself becomes consistent if systematically applied – so I tried to make the piece inconsistent, even in its inconsistency!