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New Master of the Queen's Music


Congratulations to composer Judith Weir on her new appointment as Master of the Queen’s Music.


Judith has previously been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Music and has continued to be a regular visitor to Cardiff. Her most recent visit was earlier this summer when she provided advice and guidance to members of the Cardiff University Contemporary Music Group during recording sessions of several of her choral pieces. The CMG recorded four of her pieces, including a world premiere recording of two movements from her song cycle 'Really?'

Dr Robert Fokkens, Lecturer at the School of Music and Director of the CMG said: "It was a wonderful surprise and a real pleasure to have Judith join us for our recording sessions in June. Whilst she has attended CMG and other School of Music concerts in the past (notably the portrait concert of her work which CMG did in 2011), I wasn't expecting her to be available at relatively short notice for these sessions. Not only did she come down to comment on and support the sessions on her four works (three choral works and the world premiere recording of two movements of her chamber work "Really?"), but she also stayed to listen to other works we recorded and the short end-of-recording concert we did that evening. 

"All of this is testament to her commitment to and interest in music-making at all levels and beyond her own work - I have no doubt whatsoever that her comments in the media about travelling around the UK to see and hear the range of music-making in the country are a real commitment, rather than a passing fancy.

"In the sessions themselves, her comments were characteristically thoughtful, supportive and subtle but always enormously helpful - with a few quiet words, she conveys important information about the nature of the music, often helping the performers develop their understanding of music significantly, and allowing them to perform it even more effectively and convincingly. 

"Judith's generosity of spirit, integrity, commitment to music-making of all levels, and remarkable, imaginative but undemonstrative musicianship make her an ideal Master of the Queen's Music in my view, and we are enormously privileged to have been able to work with her in various contexts over the past few years."

Judith succeeds Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as Master of the Queen's Music. The musical equivalent of a Poet Laureate, this is an honorary position conferred on a musician of great distinction.

Judith has also just been announced as the BBC Singers’ Associate Composer from 2015.

Dr David Beard, Senior Lecturer at the School of Music, is currently working on the first book dealing with the music of Judith Weir.

Dr Beard said: “It’s a privilege to work on a composer as inspired as Judith Weir. Whilst looking to provide insights into Judith’s musical style in what will be the first overview of her output of over 100 published works, my research is concerned with Judith’s commitment to the role of music in society, her collaborative projects, and her breadth of interests, including Scottish folk music, German Romanticism, medieval music, Indian, Chinese and South-East European traditions.

“When invited to become Distinguished Visiting Professor of Composition in Cardiff University’s School of Music, some years ago, Judith was not required to teach. However, she insisted that she would only take on the role as an active tutor. I think that speaks volumes about Judith’s character and her suitability as an ambassador for a subject that is fighting for survival in our education system. Articulate whether communicating with children, amateurs or professionals, with a vast range of experience across many musical genres, Judith Weir is an ideal Master of the Queen’s Music at precisely the right time.”




Judith Weir working with three of our Cardiff University Contemporary Music Group students - Jessica Cale, Julia Elizabeth Howell and Chris Gibbons - on the world premiere recording of Judith's 'Really?' last month