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Tuesday, 2 November 1999, 12:00AM

Ups and Downs

Professor Stephen Pratt

Stephen Pratt talks about the preparations made and processes he used in writing his work, Undulations and Other Movements, which was composed in France during 1998. The work was inspired by Parisian mime studies and the landscape of the Charente, and the lecture will include extracts from Psappha's recently-released CD recording.

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Stephen Pratt was the Gresham Professor of Music with Joanna McGregor between 1997 and 2000.

He is Professor of Music at Liverpool Hope University.

Professor Pratt studied first to be a teacher, at Christ’s College of Education, and later he continued his music studies at the Royal Manchester College of Music (conducting with George Hadjinikos) and then to under- and post-graduate study at Reading and Liverpool Universities. At Liverpool he studied composition with Hugh Wood, with whom he continued to study privately until 1975. He became known with works like the Piano Sonata (1974-5) and Star and Dead Leaves for flute and piano (1977) which were both selected for performance in the BBC Young Composers’ Forums of 1976 and 1978. In 1978 an Arts Council bursary enabled him to write his first orchestral work, Some of their Number (1978-9), which was commissioned by the RLPS and given its premiere by the RLPO under Simon Rattle in 1980; it was subsequently given three more performances by the orchestra under Barry Wordsworth in 1984. In 1987 his Strong Winds, Gentle Airs was performed in London at the Festival Hall by the Wirral Schools Concert Band, who had commissioned the work, and following this he became the Performing Rights Society’s composer-in residence to the Wirral which involved him in extended composition projects with pupils from Wirral Schools. In 1991 he completed the first part of Uneasy Vespers, commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society; it was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra with the Finzi Singers under Vernon Handley in the May of that year.

At the request of Wells Cathedral School, he returned to the solo piano for At the turn of the year (1992), heard in Wells, London and more recently in performances by Joanna MacGregor and on Richard Casey’s CD recording; following that, a choral piece, With the drawing of this love (1993), first heard at the Chester Festival given by the Finzi Singers, directed by Paul Spicer; and a work for saxophone, string trio and tape, About time, which was first performed by Take Four in March 1995. In 1997 he completed a Violin Concerto, which he began in 1991, and in the July of that year Joanna MacGregor gave the first performance of The Song Within, a commission for the 1997 Chester Festival. In 1998 he completed Undulations and other Movements for the ensemble Psappha, which received its first performance at the Royal Northern College of Music in November 1999, and was subsequently issued on Psappha’s double CD Waterfront in December 1999. His tape work Four mini-tudes and thirty-three seconds (studies after John Cage) was heard at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in December 1998, and subsequently extracts were used on Joanna MacGregor’s CD of the music of John Cage, Perilous Night. An orchestral work, Surroundings, was a Millennium commission by the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral Concerts Society, and was first performed in the Cathedral in July, 2000.

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