Malcolm Singer

Malcolm is Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, and a professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He read music at Magdalene College, Cambridge before studying in Europe with both Nadia Boulanger and Gyorgy Ligeti. He was later awarded a Harkness Fellowship, spending two years at Stanford University, California. In 1995, a “portrait” concert of his music was given in Cologne, and in 2003 there was a 50th Birthday Concert of his music given in St. John’s, Smith Square, London.

Malcolm has many works to his name and is particularly known for his choral music and his pieces for young people. Making Music for narrator and orchestra was commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and KADDISH for 24 solo voices was written for the BBC Singers. A Hopeful Place was conducted by Lord Menuhin in the Royal Albert Hall, London and Singer’s children’s cantata DRAGONS (to poems by Nick Toczek) is soon to be published. Chamber works include Quartet for Strings, Nonet for Strings, a Piano Quartet ‘The Grammar of Hope’ and his recent Piano Trio.

Working with young musicians

Malcolm has worked with young musicians throughout his professional life, and has composed much music either for young performers, or for a mixture of young musicians and professionals. While Making Music (1983) was written for the children’s audience of the Robert Mayer Concerts (but performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra), H.D.’s Song (1991) is for children’s choir and children’s instrumental ensemble. Dragons (1997), with text by Nick Toczek, is for children’s choir with a full youth (or professional) orchestra and is just about to be published as Dragons- The Musical by Music Sales. A Hopeful Place (1996) commissioned for Lord Menuhin’s 80th birthday concert in the Royal Albert Hall, is scored for children’s choir (with soloists), string octet and symphony orchestra. Fantasia on Yehudi’s Theme (1998) and Rondoletto (2003) were composed specifically for beginner violinists to perform with professional musicians. Rites and Rituals (1997) was a non-notated orchestra work created with the musicians of the Sibelius Academy Orchestra in Helsinki. Perfect Pitch is another children’s cantata with words by Nick Toczek.

Working with Choirs

With the experience he has gained as a conductor of choirs, Malcolm has written a great deal of choral music. His setting of KADDISH was commissioned by the BBC Singers, and And Death Shall Have No Dominion was written for the Westminster Abbey choir. He has set many psalms – Psalms 100, 117 and 122 in Hebrew and Songs of Ascent in English and Jubilate in Latin. Psalms for Today set modern psalms by Ernesto Cardenal (in English translation). His cantata, The Mask of Esther, deals with the book of Esther, as re-worked by the poet Michelene Wandor, and he has set the same writer’s words in the Four Miniatures for Male Voice Choir of 2003. The earliest of his ‘choral’ works is the ever-popular spoken FUGUE.

Working in the Jewish Community

Malcolm is very active in the Jewish musical community. He was Musical Director of the Zemel Choir from 1983-1993 and has conducted the BBC Singers in several concerts of Jewish Music. Malcolm has written much music with Jewish themes. York (with libretto by the poet, Michelene Wandor) was commissioned for the 800th anniversary of massacre of the Jews at Clifford’s Tower and KADDISH was commissioned by the BBC Singers. His setting of Psalm 122 was written for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain’s Jubilee Service, and settings of Psalm 100 and 117 were commissioned by the Zemel Choir for their 40th Anniversary Concert. Jubilate, set in Latin, was written for the St. Alban’s Chamber Choir, and The Mask of Esther (2001) was commissioned jointly by them with the Zemel Choir. He has recently completed an a cappella setting in Hebrew of Psalm 95 (2005) for the Zemel Choir’s 50th anniversary.