Bob Chilcott: Fletchling composer and choral conductor

BOB Chilcott has been described by The Observer as "a contemporary hero of British choral music."

BOB Chilcott has been described by The Observer as “a contemporary hero of British choral music.”

He has worked as a full-time composer and choral conductor for the past 13 years. He has over 125 pieces published by Oxford University Press, and versions of several of his pieces are published in German, Swedish, Norwegian, Slovenian, and Icelandic.

Now he has produced a new work, The Shepherds, Sing based on a 17th century poem by George Herbert which will be performed for the first time at a concert, Ring Out Wild Bells, on 6 January at Fletching Church in aid of its Friends.

Bob said he wrote the piece because he had friends in the village, loved the church and liked the idea of the concert.

“In this country we are blessed with beautiful buildings which need upkeep which is very much in the mind with Fletching Church. Anything we can do for these buildings gives them the chance to go on and on.

“It seemed a lovely thing to do straight after Christmas when people seem to be unsure about the New Year and it’s cold.

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“It seemed a nice thing to do to maintain the feeling of joyfulness and we had the opportunity to do this concert and it’s a lovely church and we have some fabulous singers. The concert is about a new start, a new year.”

He said the idea behind the concert is to reflect the beauty of the countryside and celebrate what the land has given us. It’s also about being grateful for the work that people to do to maintain the countryside.

“It’s a lovely subject because when you live in the country or work on the land or with animals you are aware of the way that the seasons and time affects our lives. Often in the city we don’t have that in the same way.”

Bob wrote the piece after reading a lot of poetry, biblical writing and hymns until he came across the poem by George Herbert.

“The poem has Christmas overtones but it has a very universal meaning. It reflects our connection with nature and reflects the idea of shepherds taking care.”

He said that once he has written a piece it takes on a life of its own.

“It’s like building something, you have to have walls that will hold it up and you have to have light in it, you have to have air in it and it needs to be in your mind. It’s three-dimensional or multi-dimensional in another way.

“So however big or small the piece it’s got to stand up on its own and live. When it’s performed again people take it for themselves and it becomes itself.”

As well as Bob Chilcott’s new piece, the concert will include carols, poetry reading, bell ringing and, of course, the Sussex Carol.

Professional London-based group the Band of Voices with harpist Tanya Houghton and trumpeter Charlotte Buchanan will perform the concert.

The email address for tickets is: The prices are �12 in advance and �15 on the door. The Friends of Fletching Church raise funds for the upkeep of this beautiful 13th century church. Thanks to them the Church is warm in winter, has excellent lighting, a newly-shingled spire and a roof that does not leak – and so it remains at the very  heart of this beautiful Sussex village.