|Name Alan Bullard||Role Composer|
|Similar People Carlo Rustichelli, Bob Chilcott, Malcolm Archer, Herbert Howells, Christopher Norton|
Alan bullard s wondrous cross
Alan Bullard (born 4 August 1947) is a British composer, known mainly for his choral and educational music. His compositions are regularly performed and broadcast worldwide, and they appear on a number of CDs.
- Alan bullard s wondrous cross
- Alan bullard love came down at christmas
- Early career and education
- Professional career
- Musical language and reception
- Main publishers
- Selected choirs
- Selected performers
- Selected orchestras and ensembles
- Selected conductors
Alan bullard love came down at christmas
Early career and education
He was born in Norwood, South London on 4 August 1947, son of artists Paul Bullard and Jeanne Bullard, and lived as a child in Blackheath, South-East London. He attended St. Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School, where he learnt music with Desmond Swinburn, while studying piano with Geoffrey Flowers and John Allen at the Blackheath Conservatoire of Music. He then studied with Herbert Howells, Ruth Gipps and Antony Hopkins at the Royal College of Music, and took postgraduate study with Arnold Whittall at Nottingham University. For the next few years he taught music part-time in several art schools and at the London College of Music (from 1970 to 1975).
Apart from a short song written in 1967 when he was a student of Herbert Howells, the earliest work that Alan Bullard now acknowledges is his Three Poems of W B Yeats of 1973. This work, and a cluster of other choral works, (several of which found publishers such as Banks and the RSCM) written at about the same time, are almost the only pieces to survive this period.
The opportunity of a permanent teaching post at what is now Colchester Institute (where Bullard taught from 1975 to 2005) caused a move to the Essex countryside, and later to Colchester. Here encouragement by several colleagues and friends resulted in a growing musical confidence and output: for example Colchester Choral Society (director Ian Ray) commissioned three large-scale works for choir and orchestra.
In 1985 Bullard wrote a setting for unaccompanied choir of four sixteenth-century poems entitled Madrigal Book. This work came to the attention of Stephen Wilkinson and was the beginning of a long association with Alan Bullard's choral music, resulting in several broadcasts by the BBC Northern Singers.
Meanwhile, his work in the area of choral music for amateurs attracted the interest of Oxford University Press, and there is now in their catalogue a wide variety of Bullard’s anthems and carols for different choral groupings and situations, many of which are performed world-wide.
Many of Bullard’s orchestral pieces found first performances in East Anglia, often under the baton of Christopher Phelps. Bullard has also written much chamber music for many instrumental combinations and his music for wind groups, in particular, has found particular favour, as has his music for the recorder, an instrument he enjoys playing as an amateur.
Bullard has also written much music for children and adult learners: he is a contributor to many instrumental collections and is the composer of Joining the Dots (ABRSM) an on-going series to develop musical sight-reading, and the editor and author, with his wife Janet, of the Pianoworks piano tutor series published by Oxford University Press. Bullard claims to find ‘the writing of an interesting Grade One piece as exciting as any other musical challenge’.
In 2008 Bullard was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Essex for his work in composition and education, and in 2010 he received three awards from the Music Industries Association (MIA) for his publications in that year.
Musical language and reception
Bullard acknowledges the influence of twentieth-century composers such as Benjamin Britten and Herbert Howells on his musical language, as well as that of mediaeval and renaissance music. Writers have described his music as ‘gentle, melodic, and unfailingly well-crafted’, and showing ‘a real sense of pianistic understanding, economical and linear without sounding clichéd’. Another critic has said ‘Bullard’s music shows a genuine love for melodic contours and a delicate shading of a harmonic language that is respectful of tradition without being a slave to it’. Of his Christmas carols, writers have said that ‘Bullard’s direct tuneful language draws its chief source of inspiration from the eloquent simplicity of folk-carols’ and that ‘he shows a sensitivity to the text, and vocal lines that show a natural easy flow’ and found his carol ‘Glory to the Christ-Child’ to be a ‘rigorous and exhilarating setting of mediaeval lyrics’. And educational material such as Pianoworks (with his wife Janet as co-writer) has been welcomed as ‘attractive, unpatronising and adult in manner’.
Bullard's is not ivory tower music - what seems to please him most is to write music which performers enjoy playing and audiences enjoy hearing: music which might provide something of a challenge, but which is not out of reach. As one critic put it: ‘He sees his role as quietly getting on with the vocation of writing music that people will want to sing and play on the everyday, as well as the special occasion’.