Richard Blackford’s “Pietà” – Press Release June 2019



The Bournemouth Symphony Chorus is proud to announce the world première of Pietà, a new work commissioned from the composer Richard Blackford, which will take place at the Lighthouse, Poole on Saturday 22 June 2019. This is the third major work he has composed for the Chorus, following the critically successful Voices of Exile (2001) and Not in Our Time (2011). Pietà has been jointly commissioned by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and St Alban’s Choral Society.

Pietà is a setting of the Stabat Mater, with additional poems by the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. It is for mezzo and baritone soloists, SATB chorus, children’s chorus, strings and solo saxophone.  The performance will be given by the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Youth Chorus, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, internationally renowned soloists Jennifer Johnston and Stephen Gadd, and the brilliant young saxophonist Amy Dickson. The conductor will be Gavin Carr, to whom the work is dedicated.  A brief presentation from Amy Dixon can be viewed here:


The work will be recorded for Nimbus Records shortly after the first performance and released in October 2019. The London première will be on Saturday 19 October 2019 at the Cadogan Hall. The St Alban’s Choral Society will perform it in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, Hertfordshire on Saturday 25 April 2020 with Orchestra Nova under Georg Vass to celebrate the Chorus’s 75thanniversary.


The Story Behind The Music

At the core of Richard Blackford’s Pietà is a setting of the Stabat Mater; but it also includes two poignant poems by the celebrated Russian Anna Akhmatova from Requiem. The poems echo the words in Stabat Mater reflecting the grief of a mother for her son Lev, a student at Leningrad University, who, in 1938, at the height of Stalin’s terror, is arrested in his dormitory room and shipped to an Arctic labour camp.  For 17 months his mother waited in queues and wrote letters to police officials beseeching them to tell her the fate of her son. Her struggle is immortalised in “Requiem”, her most famous work. Alternating between elegy, lamentation and witness, it culminates in its most famous stanza:


For seventeen months I’ve been crying out,
Calling you home.
I flung myself at the hangman’s feet,
For you my son, my horror.


The music embraces the passion of these words. After a recent workshop when the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus studied the work for the first time, conductor Gavin Carr wrote: “It is so compact, and so powerful: the intensity is incredible, and the release at the end is remarkable.”

A presentation from Richard Blackford about Pietà can be viewed here:


The Score

NMP1066 Pietà Vocal Score. Orchestral Parts and Study Score available on request from

About Richard Blackford

Richard Blackford was born in 1954 and studied composition with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music, then with Hans Werner Henze in Rome. Early awards include the Tagore Gold Medal, the Ricordi Prize and the Mendelssohn Scholarship. He was first Composer-in-Residence at Balliol College Oxford, and later Composer-in-Residence to the Brno Philharmonic in the Czech Republic. His works were performed in the major music festivals of the world, including Adelaide, Berlin, Brighton, Montepulciano, Cheltenham, Long Island. He has composed in virtually every medium, including opera, choral, orchestral, theatre, film and ballet, with his most recent ballet Biophony (2015) in collaboration with Bernie Krause and Alonzo King, winning ‘Best Contemporary Performance 2016’ in the Italian dance magazine Danza&Danza. As a media composer Richard was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for his 4-hour score for the CNN/BBC series Millennium, and in 2015 was awarded Die Goldene Deutschland for services to music in Germany. His literary collaborators include; Ted Hughes, Maya Angelou and Tony Harrison. He is a Director of the charity Music For Youth, President of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and a Trustee of the Aberystwyth MusicFest. Richard Blackford’s music is published by Novello and Nimbus Music Publishing.

Further Information for Press/Media

Press tickets for the première on 22nd June may still be possible. Press tickets 19th October at Cadogan Hall are certainly possible. – please request via

Further Information for Festivals, Choral Directors and Choral Ensembles

We are very happy to try to organise invitation tickets for either performance for Festival Directors, Choral Directors and Choral Ensembles genuinely looking to present their own performance of Pietà. Please request via

Sample scores can also be arranged on request.

Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* *|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*Our mailing address is:

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.


Comments are closed.