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John Rutter – ‘Confessions of a Composer


A fund raising event for The Betty Greasley Education Charity* was held on 30th April when a capacity audience in Holy Trinity Church enjoyed a fascinating evening, intermixed with plenty of humour.


John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and chronicled his early years at Highgate School, where he and John Tavener were members of the boys’ choir which took part in a recording of Britten’s War Requiem. Britten wrote the soprano role especially for Galina Vishnevskaya, wife of Rostrapovitch, and conducted it himself for the recording. John Rutter fell instantly in love with Galina Vishnevskaya when she appeared on stage, clad from head to toe in white feathers!


His years as a Cambridge scholar were followed by him becoming Director of Music at Clare College leading the choir to international fame, which formed the nucleus of the internationally acclaimed Cambridge Singers.


In collaboration with David Willcocks, Director of Music at King’s College the now familiar ‘Carols for Choirs’ was published. John’s love of the Psalms and compositional career has embraced both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television and specialist writing for such groups as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King’s Singers.


He told a story about being only four handshakes away from Beethoven. The reasons being that, as a young man, he had shaken hands with his elderly supervisor who had shaken hands with Brahms, who had shaken hands with Liszt, who had shaken hands (he assumed) with Beethoven. On another occasion he met someone who had come to shake hands with him remarked ‘now you are only one handshake away from Bill Clinton’!


The evening raised £2,144 , which includes sales of CDs. Thank you to all those who attended the event and bought CDs. We’d also like to thank John Price and all those who helped in so many ways: we couldn’t have managed without you.


*Following the death of Betty Greasley in March 2006, her family requested that any donations should be used to help provide for the education of children at the Jersey Basic School in Katete, Eastern Province Zambia, in memory of Betty’s teaching work in Africa and the


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