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Will Todd

 b.1970, DurhamWill Todd Photo © Andy Holdsworth

Biography


English    


Will Todd (b.1970) is a British composer and jazz pianist, best known for combining jazz and blues with traditional choral music. He was born in County Durham and attended Durham School on a full music scholarship. He was awarded a scholarship by the Stanley Picker Trust to study music at the University of Bristol with Professor Raymond Warren where he went on to receive a ‘Highly Commended’ MMus. He is an accomplished jazz pianist and workshop leader. His jazz trio has played a large role in one of his most famous works, Mass in Blue (2003).

Mass in Blue (originally entitled Jazz Mass) was commissioned by Hertfordshire Chorus and first performed at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in July 2003. Will and his wife, Bethany Halliday, performed the piano and soprano solos alongside the Blue Planet Orchestra and Hertfordshire Chorus, conducted by David Temple. The work has been performed over 200 times at venues including the Barbican, London and the Lincoln Center, NYC. The work has been performed live on BBC Radio.

His opera The Blackened Man won second prize in the International Verdi Opera Competition in 2002 and was staged at the 2004 Buxton Festival and at the Linbury, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Screams of Kitty Genovese, a music theatre work, has been produced at the Boston Conservatory and New York Musical Theatre Festival and more recently by Tête á Tête Opera in London and Edinburgh.

His anthem The Call of Wisdom was commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service 2012 and performed in front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and broadcast to millions around the world. The single reached no. 3 in the UK iTunes Classical Songs chart. The album features award-winning choir Tenebrae with the English Chamber Orchestra and was Classic FM’s ‘CD of the week’.

As a composer and personality, Will Todd gave the address at the 2012 St Cecilia Service at St Paul's Cathedral, organised by the Musicians Benevolent Fund in front of 2000 guests. The choirs of St Paul's, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral came together for this festival service in praise of music, with guest readers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Sir Willard White.

Todd’s jazz influenced arrangement of the Christian hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’ written for the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London was performed at President Obama's Inauguration Day prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington DC 2013. Todd performed his setting of Amazing Grace at the Nelson Mandela Thanksgiving Service, broadcast live on BBC Radio in a live link up with choirs in Sophiatown, South Africa.

Todd was commissioned to write a choral piece for the BBC’s Great North Passion which aired on Good Friday 2014 and his music features regularly on Classic FM and BBC Radio.

His other works include; his oratorio Saint Cuthbert which has been performed and recorded by the Hallé Orchestra and Choir under Christopher Austin, Among Angels commissioned by the Genesis Foundation and premiered by The Sixteen in Salzburg, Sweetness and Badness written for WNO Max , and Whirlwind, commissioned by Streetwise Opera, first performed at The Sage Gateshead. His Clarinet Concerto was commissioned and written for world renowned clarinettist, Emma Johnson.

Recent projects include a setting of Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale performed at The Barbican, London and The Sage, Gateshead; a new opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Opera Holland Park which has been met with great critical acclaim: "Will Todd's moveabout opera for children of all ages beguiles in a secret garden" (theartsdesk.com).

A new commission for Crouch End Festival Choral, a setting of Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do not go gentle into that goodnight’ was premiered at the Barbican and a Hertfordshire Music Service commission ‘We will remember them’ was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall .

More recent activities include a commission for Newcastle Choral Society; his CD with Tenebrae entitled Lux et Veritas has been hailed by Classic FM as "One of this year’s finest albums". Mass in Blue will be the headline work at the British Choral Director’s Association’s National Conference at the Welsh Royal Academy of Music in Wales. Todd is embarking on a major US tour including performances of Mass in Blue and leading workshops. Todd has been commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association to compose a piece for its bi-annual national conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

September 2014

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