Stephen Cleobury (1948 – 2019)

Released on November 25, 2019

Stephen Cleobury It is with great sadness that Oxford University Press shares the news of the death of Sir Stephen Cleobury. He is survived by his wife Emma and two daughters.

Ben Selby, Director of Music Publishing, OUP, comments:

With Stephen Cleobury’s passing we have lost a man of great wisdom, integrity and a complete musician. He shall be greatly missed.

Stephen Cleobury enjoyed a long career as conductor, organist, composer and arranger. For over 35 years he has been associated with one of the world’s most famous choirs, that of King’s College, Cambridge. His work at King’s brought him into fruitful relationships with many leading performers of international repute.

At King’s, he sought to maintain and enhance the reputation of the world-famous Choir, considerably broadening the daily service repertoire, commissioning new music from leading composers – including John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music and Bob Chilcott’s Shepherd’s Carol – principally for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and developing its activities in broadcasting, recording and touring.

Stephen contributed to the OUP catalogue, not only with his commissioning of Oxford composers for King’s, but with choral works of his own, including Joys Seven and A Shropshire Carol. He also co-edited the successful Advent for Choirs with Malcolm Archer.

Stephen was President of the Friends of Cathedral Music and of the Herbert Howells Society, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an honorary fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians, and a liveryman of the Musicians’ Company. He was appointed CBE in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music and knighted in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

If for nothing else, Stephen Cleobury should go down as the man who really recharged the writing of contemporary choral music – not just the Christmas carol, but the fact that his commissioning has affected how people write choral music. In all four corners of the globe people switch on the radio on Christmas Eve and hear a new piece of music.” Jeremy Summerly, CD Review, Radio 3, 1 December 2018

Photo provided by Nick Rutter

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Author: Shirley