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Living in the moment: the melody of change – John Rutter CBE, Composer & Conductor

About This Episode

We’re joined this week by renowned conductor and composer John Rutter CBE. John has composed music that has truly defined an age, including for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Described by the New York Times as “the composer who owns Christmas”, John’s story is about bringing people together through creativity, invention and flair. He tells us that following your passion, trusting the creative process and being patient is the key to success.

John Rutter CBE, Composer & Conductor

John Rutter was born in London and studied music at Clare College, Cambridge. He first came to notice as a composer during his student years; much of his early work consisted of church music and other choral pieces including Christmas carols. From 1975–79 he was Director of Music at his alma mater, Clare College, and directed the college chapel choir in various recordings and broadcasts. Since 1979 he has divided his time between composition and conducting. Today his compositions, including such concert-length works as RequiemMagnificatMass of the ChildrenThe Gift of Life, and Visions are performed around the world. His music has featured in a number of British royal occasions, including the two most recent royal weddings. He edits the Oxford Choral Classics series, and, with Sir David Willcocks, co-edited four volumes of Carols for Choirs. In 1983 he formed his own choir the Cambridge Singers, with whom he has made numerous recordings, and he appears regularly in several countries as guest conductor and choral ambassador. He holds a Lambeth Doctorate in Music, and in 2007 was awarded a CBE for services to music.

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Lockdown List

What is a book that has changed your life?

I have been changed by the sum total of all the books I’ve read, the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met – so, no one book in particular.

What are you watching at the moment?

McDonald & Dodds. At the end of a busy week, it’s a bit of comfort TV. I love the geometric beauty of Bath, and I can identify with Dodds.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

Saint Cecilia – the patron saint of musicians, who (according to W. H. Auden) ‘appears and inspires’. She doesn’t always come calling when I’d like her to

In one sentence, describe your ‘new normal’.

The same as the old normal, minus the global travel when I’m conducting; composers work in isolation anyway, so we’re used to it.

What is your best tip for