News: Churchill Fellow wins prize for community music

Published: 31 Jan 2019

Author: Mark Lawrence
News: Churchill Fellow wins prize for community music

Composer and Churchill Fellow Mark Lawrence has won the 2018 Lady Groves Award for 'outstanding contribution to music in the community’. It was presented to him after the debut performance of his community opera Home at Last, which marked the centenary of the end of World War One.

Mark was given the award in recognition of his work, spanning more than 25 years, with amateur musicians of all ages and abilities in a diverse range of settings, including hospitals, care homes and schools. During this time, he has worked collaboratively with adults and children on performances that bring together musicians from the community, schools, universities and opera groups. Mark said:

“I have developed a deep conviction in music for all - that is, all ages, backgrounds and abilities. I feel that everyone deserves the opportunity to perform to the highest standard and have tried to achieve this in my compositions for the community, whose style has a handle on the familiar yet stretches singers and players beyond their expectations.”

Below: Mark conducts a dress rehearsal of ‘Home at Last’

Mark conducts a dress rehearsal of ‘Home at Last’

On his Fellowship travels in 1997, Mark travelled to Finland and Estonia to meet choir leaders of prestigious children’s choirs, and he credits these experiences with inspiring and enhancing his later work. He said:

“At the time of my Fellowship I was just beginning to feel my way into working with music in the wider community. I encountered the richness of Finnish and Estonian choral repertoire and the fact that young people in those countries will readily engage in contemporary repertoire without hesitation or prejudice. Most importantly of all, perhaps, I encountered the wonderful choral music of Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, much of which incorporates ancient Estonian folk song. I got to know the composer well, and he became the subject of my PhD at City University, completed in 2013.”

Top photo: Mark, left, is presented with the Lady Groves award by Making Music Board member Glynne Stackhouse, at St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol. All photos by Graham Fowlie

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