GHO Music & Film

Guest House Opera

Christopher Wood

composer and lyricist

Christopher Wood combines an innate affinity for lyricism with an individual approach to harmony and rhythm, marking him out as a modern romantic with a style distinct among most composers working today.

Critics have described his music as ‘exploiting the searing sorrow of chromaticism’ and ‘immediately accessible, yet uncompromisingly modern.’ Christopher Wood’s catalogue of works offers artists, ensembles and television and film producers the opportunity to add some sensuous sounds to their programmes through music which freely crosses the so-called boundaries between tonal and atonal; melodic and impressionistic.

Chamber Music

String Quartet (1995) – approx 13’
for 2 violins, viola, and cello

Premiered by the Fine Arts Sinfonia, Braithwaite Hall, Croydon Clocktower; October 31, 1995. Second performance by the London Mozart Players Chamber Music Ensemble in a lunchtime recital, Fairfield, Croydon; May 14 1996.

Conversation Piece (1996) – 5’
for oboe and piano

Premiered by James Turnbull (ob) and Richard Osmond (pno), Whitgift School, Croydon; July 3, 1996. James later performed the piece in front of an audience of over 20 oboists at a masterclass run by Nicholas Daniel in Greece!

Conversation Piece (1997) – 5’
for oboe quartet (oboe, violin, viola and cello)

Premiered by the Fine Arts Sinfonia, conductor Michael Nebe, Fairfield, Croydon; April 29, 1997. Also performed at the Croydon Chameleon concerts at the Braithwaite Hall, Croydon Clocktower; November 1999 and November 2000.

Songs from the Edge (1997) – 6’
song cycle: 3 songs for tenor, violin, oboe and piano

Premiered by Nicholas Hewitt (ten), Crispin Flowerday (vln), Richard Howe (ob) and Daniel Osborne (pno); Whitgift School, Croydon; June 30, 1997

Revised version (From a window, Mother and Nothing) for soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, harp, piano, violin, viola and cello, premiered by Julia Rae (soprano) and the Fine Arts Sinfonia under Michael Nebe; Fairfield, Croydon, October 10, 2000. Further revised version, with a fourth song added (The Tart’s Song) premiered by mezzo soprano Akiko Enomoto and the Fine Arts Sinfonia under Michael Nebe at Fairfield, Croydon; July 12, 2005. Four-song version performed by mezzo soprano Akiko Enomoto in a concert entitled Wa! – a celebration of English and Japanese song – at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea, March 10, 2006. Nothing and Mother performed by members of Guest House Opera at the Myers Studio, Epsom Playhouse and Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton; May 2010.

Scene from a Sad, Sad Story (1998) – 6’
for flute, bassoon and piano

Premiered by Ruth Makoff (fl), Peter Dodsworth (bssn) and Gemma Webster (pno), as winners of the Whitgift/London Mozart Players Prize in the 1998 Croydon Music Festival; Whitgift School, Croydon; October 13, 1998

Scene from a Sad, Sad Story (1999) – 6’
for flute, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and piano

Premiered by the Fina Arts Sinfonia in a lunchtime recital; Fairfield, Croydon; 1999. Second performance by the FAS under Micheal Nebe, Millennium Music Day, Fairfield, Croydon.

Lost in Life (2001) – 4’

Song for soprano and chamber ensemble (fl, clar, ob, hn, bssn, pno, 2vlns, vla, cell)

Commissioned and premiered by the Fine Arts Sinfonia, as one in a trilogy of Songs of Exile composed by contemporary Croydon composers; Fairfield, Croydon, October 9, 2001.

Portents and Omens (2003) – 4’
For flute, oboe, clarinet, string quartet and piano

Commissioned by Michael Nebe, director of the Fine Arts Sinfonia, and premiered by the FAS in the lunchtime recitals series at Fairfield, Croydon, on June 24, 2003 as one of a trilogy of new works on the theme War and Peace by local composers.

Harmony (2007) – 1’ 30”
London 2012 Olympic anthem for solo mezzo soprano and strings

First demo recording by Japanese mezzo Akiko Enomoto, as a solo, 2008. See choral music.

Harmony (2007) – 1’ 30”
For duo (sop/mezz sop); trio (STB) and quartet/choir (SATB).

Arranged for and performed at GHO concerts since 2007.

Orchestral Music

Requiem for the twentieth century (1999) – 13’
for solo viola and string orchestra

Commissioned and premiered by the London Mozart Players as part of the orchestra’s celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of their Croydon residency. Premiered by Judith Busbridge (principal viola, London Mozart Players) and the strings of the LMP under MD Matthias Bamert; Fairfield, Croydon; May 15, 1999. Second performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Juritz: Trinity Church, Wimbledon; April 29, 2000; third performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Parry; Millennium Music Day, Fairfield, Croydon, October 21, 2000; fourth performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Juritz; Kingston Parish Church, Surrey, February 9, 2002.

Triptych (2001) – 13’
For orchestra (2fl, 2ob, 2clar, 2bssn, 4hns, 3tpts, 3tbns, hp, timps, stgs).

Commissioned and premiered by the Lambeth Orchestra, south London; premiered under director Christopher Fifield; at St Luke’s Church, Knights Hill, West Norwood, on May 19, 2001. Revised 2004 and 2011, the latter version superceding all previous versions.

Wedding Music Suite (2004) – 9’
for string orchestra and harp

  1. Adagio – 3’
  2. Interlude – 4’
  3. Proclamation – 2’

Originally written as a suite of organ music, for the composer’s marriage to Maggie, in 1978. The Adagio was conceived as a slow march for the entry of the bride; the Interlude was played during the signing of the register; and the Proclamation set a joyous mood for the newly-weds to leave the church to. Revised and re-arranged for strings and harp in 2004. The Interlude was premiered in Guest House Opera’s concerts in All Saints Church, Carshalton and the Europa Gallery, Sutton, on 7 May and 12 June (Imagine Festival) 2011.

Sea Changes (2013) – 11’
for orchestra (2fl, 2ob, 2clar, bass clar, bssn, 2tpts, 2 hns, 2tbns, timps, perc, celesta, tub bells, stgs)

Sea Changes was commissioned by Sutton Council for the 2013 Imagine Festival of the Arts in Sutton, Surrey. The theme for the festival was ‘water’ and this piece of descriptive sea music was to be used as a ‘sea ballet,’ performed by a solo dancer from Apsara Arts. Sea Changes was heard at All Saints Church, Carshalton on 5 October and again at Sutton Life Centre, on 6 October, as a computer-generated soundtrack. It awaits its ‘live’ premiere.

Part 1 – Daybreak. The sun rises over a peaceful sea. Sunlight glistens on the surface. There’s a feeling of serenity.

Part 2 – The wind gathers, the water becomes choppy and spray begins to fly.

Part 3 – Storm. The weather gathers in strength and then the storm breaks. There’s a short lull before the storm returns, ending with a powerful climax.

Part 4 – A bell tolls. The storm brought devastation and tragedy and a requiem follows for those who perished. The mood changes, the requiem ending in a mysterious mood, with the bell returning.

Part 5 – Evening. Calm returns as twilight marks the nearing of the end of the day. The sea is once again tranquil. The moon shines over the water but nothing will ever be quite the same again…

 

Orchestral Music

Requiem for the twentieth century (1999) – 13’
for solo viola and string orchestra

Commissioned and premiered by the London Mozart Players as part of the orchestra’s celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of their Croydon residency. Premiered by Judith Busbridge (principal viola, London Mozart Players) and the strings of the LMP under MD Matthias Bamert; Fairfield, Croydon; May 15, 1999. Second performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Juritz: Trinity Church, Wimbledon; April 29, 2000; third performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Parry; Millennium Music Day, Fairfield, Croydon, October 21, 2000; fourth performance (same soloist and orchestra), directed by David Juritz; Kingston Parish Church, Surrey, February 9, 2002.

Triptych (2001) – 13’
For orchestra (2fl, 2ob, 2clar, 2bssn, 4hns, 3tpts, 3tbns, hp, timps, stgs).

Commissioned and premiered by the Lambeth Orchestra, south London; premiered under director Christopher Fifield; at St Luke’s Church, Knights Hill, West Norwood, on May 19, 2001. Revised 2004 and 2011, the latter version superceding all previous versions.

Wedding Music Suite (2004) – 9’
for string orchestra and harp

  1. Adagio – 3’
  2. Interlude – 4’
  3. Proclamation – 2’

Originally written as a suite of organ music, for the composer’s marriage to Maggie, in 1978. The Adagio was conceived as a slow march for the entry of the bride; the Interlude was played during the signing of the register; and the Proclamation set a joyous mood for the newly-weds to leave the church to. Revised and re-arranged for strings and harp in 2004. The Interlude was premiered in Guest House Opera’s concerts in All Saints Church, Carshalton and the Europa Gallery, Sutton, on 7 May and 12 June (Imagine Festival) 2011.

Sea Changes (2013) – 11’
for orchestra (2fl, 2ob, 2clar, bass clar, bssn, 2tpts, 2 hns, 2tbns, timps, perc, celesta, tub bells, stgs)

Sea Changes was commissioned by Sutton Council for the 2013 Imagine Festival of the Arts in Sutton, Surrey. The theme for the festival was ‘water’ and this piece of descriptive sea music was to be used as a ‘sea ballet,’ performed by a solo dancer from Apsara Arts. Sea Changes was heard at All Saints Church, Carshalton on 5 October and again at Sutton Life Centre, on 6 October, as a computer-generated soundtrack. It awaits its ‘live’ premiere.

Part 1 – Daybreak. The sun rises over a peaceful sea. Sunlight glistens on the surface. There’s a feeling of serenity.

Part 2 – The wind gathers, the water becomes choppy and spray begins to fly.

Part 3 – Storm. The weather gathers in strength and then the storm breaks. There’s a short lull before the storm returns, ending with a powerful climax.

Part 4 – A bell tolls. The storm brought devastation and tragedy and a requiem follows for those who perished. The mood changes, the requiem ending in a mysterious mood, with the bell returning.

Part 5 – Evening. Calm returns as twilight marks the nearing of the end of the day. The sea is once again tranquil. The moon shines over the water but nothing will ever be quite the same again…

 

Opera/Music Theatre/Cabaret

 Carter in Crisis (1989) – 13’ A chamber opera for solo (high) baritone and piano

Premiered by Paddy Cockshutt (baritone) and Jo Szajbman (piano); at the Unitarian Church, Richmond, Surrey; February 11, 1989. Further performances: Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton (with Zlatan Fazlic, pno); Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Society, Beddington (with Jan Winstone, pno); Millennium Music Day, Fairfield, Croydon (with Jan Winstone, pno). Further performances as part of the trilogy No Way Out! (2009-2010)

The Tart and the Princess (2000) – 12’A chamber opera for solo soprano and piano

Premiered, as a concert version, by Rachel Chapman (soprano) and Jan Winstone (piano) at Millennium Music Day, Fairfield, Croydon, October 20, 2000. The first piece in an intended trilogy of chamber operas; it was first performed in this context in May 2010 (see below).

Chains! (1986/1990) – 1hr 45’ Rock opera in 3 acts for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Premiered by Guest House Opera (amateur); Adrian Mann Theatre, Ewell, Surrey, 1986; revised for an in-house Guest House Opera (amateur) production at the Secombe Centre, Sutton, Surrey, March 1990.

This is a ‘work in progress.’ It is planned to premiere the fully revised and re-orchestrated opera at a future date.

  1. Being revised and re-orchestrated (soloists; chorus; tpt; alt sax; ten sax; tbn; bari sax; 2 gtrs; keybds; bass; drums; perc; stgs) before further performance.

Chains! – Concert Suite of Songs and Scenes (2011) – 35’ For mezzo soprano, tenor, baritone and bass baritone soloists; plus orchestra: (alto sax, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums; and strings).

Prelude; Act I scene 1; Act II scene 2; The things you never said; Act III scene 2. First performed by Guest House Opera in the Europa Gallery, Sutton Central Library, June 12 2011.

Another version of this suite performed by Guest House Opera in All Saints Church, Carshalton, Saturday 9 June 2012, as part of the Imagine Festival of the Arts, in Sutton.

It is planned to prepare and premiere a second concert suite from Chains! for future performance.

Choral Music

Peace is rolling like a river (2000) – 8’
for choir (S1,S2,A,T,B) and organ

Commissioned by the Croydon Philharmonic Choir and premiered in its Christmas concert; Fairfield, Croydon, December 16, 2000. Second performance by the Perosi Singers (5 singers and organist), New Malden, Surrey. Revised January, 2007.

Peace is rolling like a river (2010) – 10’
for choir (S1,S2,A,T,B), brass quintet (2 tpts, hn, tbn, tba), organ and strings

New version supercedes all previous versions. Completed August 2010.

Harmony (2007) – 1’ 30”
for choir (SATB) and strings

First recorded by Japanese mezzo Akiko Enomoto, as a solo. Since re-arranged for various combinations of voices, all with string accompaniment. Performed by Guest House Opera (sop, ten, bari.) in 2010. Performed by Guest House Opera (sop, alt, ten, bari) All Saints Church, Carshalton, Saturday 7 May 2011, Harmony Concert, Imagine Festival of the Arts, Europa Gallery, Sutton, June 12 2011 and Imagine Festival concert at All Saints, Carshalton on 9 June 2012.

I have a dream (2012) – 13’
For solo mezzo soprano, choir (SATB) and string orchestra

A tribute to Martin Luther King, on the eve of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Originally planned as Part II of a longer work, this piece, which is now a stand-alone piece, was premiered by Akiko Enomoto and the Guest House Opera Chorus and strings, under the baton of the composer, in All Saints Church, Carshalton, Saturday 9 June, as part of the Imagine Festival of the Arts 2012.

5 Sea Songs (2013) – 18’ (approx.)
for vocal quartet or choir (SATB) with piano

The five Sea Songs were commissioned by Sutton Council for the 2013 Imagine Festival of the Arts in Sutton, Surrey. The theme for the festival was ‘water’ and the composer chose to contribute a set of sea songs and a piece of descriptive orchestral sea music to be used in a ‘sea ballet.’ The Sea Songs were sung at All Saints Church, Carshalton on 5 October and again at Sutton Life Centre, on 6 October, by Guest House Opera’s vocal quartet, conducted by the composer.

Full Fathom Five is set to Ariel’s text from Shakespeare’s The Tempest; The atonal Deep in the Black of the Sea reveals some of his darker imaginings; Sally on the Shore was added as an ensemble piece in the style of a traditional folk song; while Sea of Tranquility is a study in soft and very soft dynamics. Sea of Tranquility takes its name from the area on the Moon’s surface where Apollo 11 made the first lunar landing. Drifting is an adaptation of a scene from the rock opera, Chains! It requires a fifth singer to take the solo lead vocal. Here it is given to a soprano rather than, as in the opera, the lead tenor, Miller. Drifting is intended for performance only in the vocal quintet/orchestral arrangement version featured here.

Duration: approx. 18 mins – Full Fathom Five 3 mins; Deep in the Black of the Sea 3 mins; Sally on the Shore 3 mins; Sea of Tranquility 3 mins 22’; Drifting 5 mins 15.’

A World War One Oratorio (2015) – 30’ approx. plus readings For Solo soprano, choir (SATB), string orchestra, brass quintet, timpani and organ

Conceived by the London Borough of Sutton’s WW1 Commemoration Steering Group and composed specifically for the Carshalton Choral Society, which premiered the work, under the direction of Philip Collin, in All Saints Church, Carshalton, on 21 November 2015, with soloist soprano Maggie Cooper, readings selected by Will Harris and a narrative written by Dick Bower. The music takes the form of six separate movements:

  1. Introduction – Let slip the Dogs of War (Words by Jessie Pope, William Shakespeare and Christopher Wood)
  2. Dead Man’s Dump (Words by Christopher Wood, after Isaac Rosenberg)
  3. My Son Jack – soprano and choir (Words by Christopher Wood, after a poem by Rudyard Kipling)
  4. Green Grows the Day (TTBB) (Words by Christopher Wood)
  5. The Last Post/My Son Jack – reprise
  6. Finale: Peace is rolling like a river (Words by Christopher Wood and from Ecclesiastes 3)

Green Grows the Day and Peace is rolling like a river have been performed as separate pieces.

Close his eyes (2016) – 4’ 30 (approx.) Song for solo soprano, string orchestra, brass quintet and timpani

Words and music written for soprano Maggie Cooper as an additional piece to include in A Great War Oratorio, but also suitable for separate performance. Written February to April 2016.

 

A Quickie with Quentin (2008) – 12’ Cabaret songs for solo tenor/high baritone, with piano

  1. Risqué old Quentin from Cheam
  2. The life of a bubble
  3. If at first you don’t succeed…

A work in progress. First three songs performed by tenor Randy Nichol at the Myers Studio, Epsom Playhouse (May 13, 2010) and the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton (May 28, 2010).

The life of a bubble sung by Kevin McRae in All Saints Church, Carshalton, Saturday 7 May 2011 and Harmony Concert, Imagine Festival of the Arts, Europa Gallery, Sutton, June 12 2011.

No Way Out! (2009) – 35’ A trilogy of chamber operas for soprano, tenor and (high) baritone, with piano

  1. The Tart and the Princess (for solo soprano) – 12’
  2. The Dinner Party (for soprano, tenor and high baritone) – 19’
  3. Carter in Crisis (for solo high baritone) – 13’

Premiered by the composer’s group, Guest House Opera, as a single chamber opera (three stories, running on in real time, or a single opera in 3 acts), at All Saints Church, Carshalton, Surrey; December 7 2009. Performers: Lynn Boudreau (soprano), Randy Nichol (tenor), Pat Cockshutt (baritone), with Christina Ward (piano). Further performances: by GHO at the Myers Studio, Epsom Playhouse, May 13 2010, and the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre, Carshalton, May 28 2010, with Kevin McRae as Carter and with Anthony McCarthy, piano.

Tutu Ubuntu (2012-)

A work in progress, using material from I have a dream; first performed in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as part of Conversations for Change at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, on Tuesday October 23 2012.

 

Educational 

A Giant on the Line (1997) Musical story for narrator, trumpet, 2 clarinets and percussion

Commissioned by the London Mozart Players as a work to take out to junior schools as part of a programme to inform and enthuse children. The incidental music was composed specifically to accompany and illustrate the story, written by Martin Mooney. Premiered by Martin Mooney, Paul Archibald (tpt), Angela Malsbury (clar), Maragaret Archibald (E flat, bass and B flat clars) and Ben Hoffnung (perc) and played in various junior schools across London.

 

Works in Progress:

Symphony (2011-) For large orchestra: 2fls (one doubling piccolo), 2 obs, 2 clars, 2 bssns, 4 hns, 3 tpts’ 3tbns, tba, 3 timps, pno, hp, stgs; plus mezzo soprano soloist and SATB choir

Cabaret – for soloists

String Quartet No.2

The Evil Doctor Zog (working title) – chamber opera in a ‘horror’ genre.

Message from the Guest (up-tempo jazz signature theme)
Memo from Moro (swing/rock)
Restaurant des Moulins (bossa nova ballad)
Exodus (arrangement of the film score theme)
Sad Old Sunday (jazz ballad)
Peter Gunn (arrangement of the Henry Mancini movie theme)

Sandy (with the laughing eyes) (pop)
Sitting here in the park (jazz ballad)
Worlds on worlds (folk pop)
Sunset (jazz ballad)
Autumn’s Wine* (pop ballad)
Love Song (folk pop)
Suddenly (pop)
Marcia (pop ballad)
Love, reach out! (pop)
McAlester (blues rock)

Chicago (blues rock)
Something is wrong (pop)
Black Eyes (rock)
Everybody’s gotta get hurt sometime (blues/ballad)
Feels like it’s gonna rain (country)
It’s a mean old scene (slow blues)
(Take me on your) Caravan (rock)
Fool that you are* (bossa nova)

Give me some love* (blues)
Sleepy Town (jazz ballad)
Walk with me (bossa nova)
Evermore (fast Latin)
For all this time (acoustic jazz)
Something’s moving (acoustic jazz)
Eagle (folk pop adaptation of Worlds on Worlds)

Get inside! (rock)
Just another fading star (slow heavy rock)
Hey Old Man (ensemble rock)
Oo, that livin’ (rock)
Turned my radio on* (rock ballad)
If we’re ever gonna reach that heaven* (ballad)
I’ve been deceived (rock ballad)

Prophet of wisdom* (rock)
Drifting (slow and up-tempo rock)
Life’s a little harder now* (rock ballad)
Unclean! (funk rock)
The things you never said* (jazz ballad)
Prisoners all are we (ensemble rock chorus)
(Take me on your) Caravan (rock)
Seduction of the Jailor (funk rock instrumental)*

Waiting* (cool jazz)
On the Road – Again! (jazz rock)
Restaurant des Moulins (up tempo Latin)
Film Music 1* (funk rock)
Film Music 2 (slow rock)