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ESO McCabe Chair

From 2013 until his death in February 2015, John McCabe was Composer-in-Association with the English Symphony Orchestra (ESO) based in Worcestershire.

The ESO's principal conductor, Kenneth Woods, comments: 'It will forever be a source of deep regret that John's appointment as composer-in-association with the orchestra coincided almost exactly with the onset of his illness. There were so many more projects we wanted to do, and I know John bitterly regretted the times he was unable to travel to join us. John was so excited about the prospects for the partnership and was infinitely generous with his wisdom and energy, helping us to put his music in the right contexts. The video interviews we recorded as part of the association are fascinating - John could speak with awe-inspiring fluency on any musical topic. He was someone who could inspire and instruct the most expert professional musicians and engage with a general audience with wit and warmth.'

The ESO has now permanently renamed its Composer-in-Association Chair in memory of John McCabe. The ESO's first John McCabe Composer-in-Association, from 2015, will be Philip Sawyers.

Born in London in 1951, Philip Sawyers began composing as a teenager, shortly after starting to learn violin at the age of thirteen. He studied at Dartington College of the Arts - violin with Colin Sauer and composition with Helen Glatz. At the Guildhall School of Music he studied violin with Joan Spencer and Max Rostal, and received compositional guidance from Buxton Orr, Patric Standford and Edmund Rubbra.

He worked as a violinist in London from 1973, playing in the Royal Opera House Orchestra and freelancing with various other orchestras and chamber groups. In 1997 he studied for a year at Goldsmith's College in the University of London, and from 2001 until 2013 he worked as an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. He now works as a composer, freelance violinist, teacher and adjudicator.

Initial fruits from the association will be a new song cycle, Songs of Loss and Regret, to receive its first performance in Hereford Cathedral on 7 October 2015, and Sawyers' Third Symphony, to be played in the ESO's 2015-16 season and recorded for Nimbus.


Posted: 16 May 2015

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