Thu, 07/05/2018 - 09:05

Patrick Craig

A former chorister and student of Lichfield Cathedral Choir School will step into the breach at a Lichfield Festival concert next week after its conductor became unwell. 

Patrick Craig was expecting to join his fellow singers in a concert by The Cardinall’s Musick at Lichfield Cathedral on Monday 9 July but instead will pick up the baton in place of Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral, who has fallen ill. 

Patrick, who was a chorister at Lichfield Cathedral between 1977-82, says, “I have a unique attachment to Lichfield and its Cathedral: my dad, brother and nephew were all Head Choristers here and although I never reached those dizzying heights, I have gone on to make a living out of the sacred music that I was first introduced to in this place. I have a vivid memory of singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City from a precarious ledge in a transept at the same height as the organ loft. Singing Allegri’s Miserere in the Whispering Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral, where I’ve worked for nearly a quarter of a century, still makes my stomach wobble in much the same way.”

The Cardinall’s Musick is a highly-acclaimed vocal ensemble which has won many prestigious awards in classical music.  Particularly regarded for its performances of Renaissance music and for commissioning new work, the concert, entitled ‘The Music Makers’, showcases both and includes Praetorius and Byrd alongside recent music by Judith Weir and Paul Crabtree.  Judith Weir, the first female Master of The Queen’s Music, can also be heard in a pre-concert conversation at Wade Street Church (5pm).

“It’s always bittersweet to get the opportunity to conduct the wonderful singers of The Cardinall’s Musick as it inevitably points to the ill health of our inspiring founder conductor Andrew Carwood,” says Patrick.  “But this is a special programme featuring new music that I have memorably premiered at significant festivals in Spitalfields, Orkney and at the Proms and the Wigmore Hall. It will be a thrill to conduct these works back in the Cathedral that I grew up in, and in front of two of the composers to whom we owe so much.”

After leaving Lichfield, Patrick became Organ Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  For many years he has sung with St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, The Cardinall’s Musick and has reached 1000 concerts with the Tallis Scholars.  He also founded and directs the professional all-female vocal ensemble Aurora Nova. 

Patrick Craig is not the only local musician with an international career to appear at this year’s Lichfield Festival.  Renowned soprano Lucy Crowe, from Marchington, will perform Handel and Vivaldi alongside La Nuova Musica on Tuesday 10 July.  The Staffordshire-born singer regularly appears at the world’s greatest opera houses including Covent Garden, and has sung with Sir Simon Rattle.  And Stephen Maddock, the Lichfield-born Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, will give an insight into the running of one of the UK’s leading orchestras.

This year’s Lichfield Festival runs from 4-14 July with highlights including Liza Sings Streisand, Hansel and Gretel, A Celebration of Bernstein and Gershwin, the CBSO and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, folk singers Kris Drever and Julie Fowlis and restaurant critic and jazz pianist Jay Rayner, and a series of events on the theme of #ExtraordinaryWomen.   

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