Making Waves


A new disc of works by the world renowned choral composer Bob Chilcott. Bob has been involved in choral music for most of his life and since he became a professional composer in 1997 he has had over 100 works published by Oxford University Press. He was hailed by Gramophone magazine as “one of the finest choral composers at work in Britain today.”

This CD includes tracks with The Sirens, an ensemble of young professional women’s voices specially created for this recording. Also featuring are a jazz trio with Alexander Hawkins on piano, Michael Chilcott on bass and Dereck Scurll on drums.

The works included here reflect the strong support and interest that Bob’s vocal music generates, with commissions from a wide variety of choral societies, children & youth choirs and professional choruses.


What people are saying

“Making Waves, with its Morse code riff, sonorous harmonies and plaintive soprano solo line, has all the makings of a Classic FM hit.”

Andrew Stewart – Classic FM Magazine

“If you don’t yet know Chilcott, this is a great place to start; you are likely to be surprised and delighted, for here is an ‘accessible’ modern composer with a strongly individual voice and, at his best, the power to move deeply.”

Gwyn Parry-Jones –

Bob Chilcott | The Sirens

Release date:28th Oct 2008
Order code:SIGCD142
Barcode: 635212014226

The Guardian, 26th October 2008

Some welcome new repertoire for sopranos and altos here from a contemporary hero of British choral music, Bob Chilcott. Perhaps the most intriguing in this rewarding and diverse collection for young voices, deftly sung by the Sirens, is the discs title track ‘Making Waves’, written for two youth choirs to sing simultaneously on either side of the Atlantic, linked only by a telephone line a piece commissioned to mark the centenary of Marconi’s first trans-oceanic wireless transmission. The hugely talented Iain Farrington accompanies with characteristic taste and charm.

Stephen Pritchard

Classic FM Magazine, February 2009

Like John Rutter before him, Bob Chilcott worked tirelessly during his Cambridge student days with fine ‘local’ groups. As a member of the King’s Singers and subsequently as a freelance composer, Chilcott has forged a convincing, unashamedly accessible synthesis of musical languages, drawing freely on jazz, folk and classical elements in his choral pieces. The works here, for upper voices and jazz trio, are beautifully sung by The Sirens and superbly handled by Signum’s production team. Making Waves, with its Morse code riff, sonorous harmonies and plaintive soprano solo line, has all the makings of a Classic FM hit.

Andrew Stewart, December 2008

There can’t be many choral singers in Britain who have yet to encounter the name and music of Bob Chilcott. For a time, he was dogged by being described sniffily as ‘the new John Rutter’ – as if Rutter was ‘old’! – but has now established himself completely in his own right. This disc demonstrates exactly what it is that makes his music so popular and such a delight to sing: an instinctive understanding of what ‘works’ in vocal writing. This is just as you’d expect from a distinguished ex- Kings College choral scholar and ex King’s Singer. He has a strong and characterful melodic gift, and an intense response to selected texts.

He is ably assisted on this Signum disc by The Sirens, a group of young professional female singers, brought together by Elizabeth Fleming and Chilcott himself, and pianists Iain Farrington and Alexander Hawkins, this last in the Little Jazz Mass along with bassist Michael Chilcott and drummer Derek Scurll.

The first song, ‘Circles of Motion’, is an ideal introduction to Chilcott’s style; a subdued yet active piano part, like sunlight playing on waves, and a swaying, gently syncopated melody in the choir. ‘Like a Rainbow’ is more vigorous and assertive, but surprises with its sudden turn to thoughtfulness and mystery. That prepares the way for ‘All things pass’, a contemplative setting of 6th century words by Lau-Tzu.

‘Making Waves’ was written for a TV programme celebrating Marconi’s life, and begins and ends with the quiet sound of Morse code signals. The piece is unaccompanied, and Chilcott develops wonderful vocal textures. It gives an opportunity for member of The Sirens to take solos, which, here as elsewhere, they do with aplomb.

The next group of three contains some of his most irresistible songs. ‘The Lily and the Rose’ is an exquisite setting of a haunting 16th century text, while ‘Catch a falling star’ explores the gentle melancholy of the famous poem by John Donne. In between these comes – possibly my favourite track on the disc – a brilliant version of ‘So fair and bright’. The way Chilcott lifts the texture with his writing for the piano is a joy, as are his subtle touches of minor key harmony, clouding momentarily the brightness of the song.

‘This Day’, tracks 12 – 16, is a short cycle of songs which are settings of, respectively, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Ken, a Jewish prayer, R.S. Thomas and John Henry Newman. All very attractive, though my only real ‘thumbs-down’ amongst all the tracks on the disc is for ‘The Bright Field’. It seems to me that Gwyn Parry-Jones December 2008 Making Waves Chilcott’s rather hum-drum setting with its twee melody entirely misses the sense of revelation, of epiphany that shines out of this very great poem. But my admiration for Chilcott is such that I must add a health warning to my criticism! It’s always problematic when one encounters a song based on a text that one knows and loves well, for the composer may have an entirely different ‘take’ on the poem. Sometimes this can be stimulating, at others, as here for me, it has a negative impact.

The ‘Little Jazz Mass’ that completes the disc is, I think, great fun, largely because the composer has had the sense to keep the movements short and sweet. Again, Chilcott’s great gifts for melody, rhythm and texture are much in evidence, and the ‘Agnus Dei’, the most extended movement, is a beautiful and affecting concluding item.

If you don’t yet know Chilcott, this is a great place to start; you are likely to be surprised and delighted, for here is an ‘accessible’ modern composer with a strongly individual voice and, at his best, the power to move deeply.

Gwyn Parry-Jones, December 2008

Perhaps the most gifted choral writer at work today, Chilcott has a talent for spiritual melody that nods neither to the American midwest nor the English pasture. His title song, commemorating Marconi’s first transmission, is infectiously singable, irresistibly memorable. Lovelier still is The Lily and the Rose. A century from now, womens’ choirs will still be singing it.

Norman Lebrecht

  1. Circles of motion – Making Waves –
  2. Like a rainbow – Making Waves –
  3. All things pass – Making Waves –
  4. Making Waves – Making Waves –
  5. The Lily and the Rose – Making Waves –
  6. So fair and bright – Making Waves –
  7. Catch a falling star – Making Waves –
  8. Swansongs 1 – Making Waves –
  9. Like a singing bird – Making Waves –
  10. Swansongs 2 – Making Waves –
  11. All for love of one – Making Waves –
  12. I Bring me the sunset in a cup – This Day –
  13. II Awake, my soul – This Day –
  14. III This Day – This Day –
  15. IV The bright field – This Day –
  16. V O Lord, support us all the day long – This Day –
  17. I Kyrie eleison – A Little Jazz Mass –
  18. II Gloria – A Little Jazz Mass –
  19. III Sanctus – A Little Jazz Mass –
  20. IV Benedictus – A Little Jazz Mass –
  21. V Agnus Dei – A Little Jazz Mass –

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