Jonathan Palmer

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Jonathan Palmer spent the early part of his life in Bath, taking up the cello at the age of fifteen. After studying composition with Andrew Byrne at Reading University, he studied conducting with George Hurst and John Carewe, and developed his compositional skills for a while under Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. His teaching career began in Southampton, continued in Bruton, Somerset, diversified in Bermuda and he finally settled in Bristol, where he was appointed as Director of Music at Clifton High School in 1994.

He decided to retire in 2007 in order to concentrate on his composition, and for eight years was a part-time research student at the University of Bristol. In August 2010 he was awarded the Raymond Warren Prize for Composition. Having studied under Professor Geoff Poole and Professor John Pickard, he completed his PhD in Composition in January 2015. His portfolio consisted of five original compositions, and a written commentary that examined the role of extra-musical stimuli as catalysts in the creative musical process. In order to consolidate his own compositional language, his research focussed on composition, drawing stimulus from visual artworks, from the writings of their creators, and from naturally-occurring visual structures. He is now a Fellow of Trinity College, London, in Composition, and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Over the years he has conducted numerous choirs and orchestras in many large-scale events. In September 2013, he was appointed conductor of Portishead Choral Society. In the spring of 2014, he composed a new cantata for the choir to coincide with their Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Awake the Voice, a thirty minute work in six movements for chorus, four soloists, audience and full orchestra was premiered on 13th December, 2014. He is currently working on the third set of four carol orchestrations for choir, audience and orchestra. Other future projects include a song cycle for soprano and piano, and a ‘showpiece’ for flute and piano commissioned by the celebrated flautist Jean-Michel Tanguy.

As well as playing the double bass player in orchestras, he also enjoys playing the cello in chamber music. In his spare time he enjoys maintaining his classic cars, instrument restoration, cooking and travelling.

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The SCA online database currently lists 21 scores by Jonathan Palmer.
Title Year Instrumentation Mins      Other Information                                         Audio View score Publ.
Awake the Voice 2014 for SATB soloists, SATB Choir, Audience and Chamber Orchestra. 21-30 New cantata for Advent, with audience participation in three of the six movements. Movement 1
Movement 2
Movement 3
Movement 4
Movement 5
Movement 6 
N/A view score Self 
Bombshells 1986 Musical 30+ A two hour stage musical. Winner of the Six Counties Festival in 1988.  listen N/A 
Cantata Europa 1992 Soprano, Tenor soli, SATB and Full Orchestra 30+ Commissioned by Wincanton Arts Association. The recording is of the final section: 'And let us all in single voice proclaim our peace in harmony', sung in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.   listen view score Self 
Carol Arrangement: I Saw Three Ships 2013 Solo, SATB Chorus , Audience and Orchestra 4 Designed for December concerts, where there is an orchestra available, and an audience wanting to join in.   listen view score Self 
Carol Arrangement: Good King Wenceslas 2013 SATB Choir, Audience and Orchestra 3 As above.  listen view score Self 
Crystal Eyes 2012 Wind Quintet 7-8 A set of 'Miniatures' for wind quintet (with all the doublings).
Movement 1 - Heliotrope
Movement 2 - Bleu Jaune
Movement 3 - Bismuth
Movement 4 - Tiger's Eye
Movement 5 - Celestine  
N/A view score Self 
December Suite 2004 Chamber Orchestra 11-15 Five Christmas 'Funtasias', based on well-known carol tunes.   N/A N/A Self 
Doom Triptych 2012 Trumpet and Organ 11-15 Commissioned by Colin Bloch. First performance on 28th February 2013 at St Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol.  listen N/A Self 
Dove Sta Amore 1982 Oboe and Piano 5-6 The original version for oboe d'amore and piano. "I have played the piece a number of times in recitals and it goes down very well. It is an entirely different genre from the usual d’amore repertoire." (Geoffrey Bridge)  listen N/A Self 
Dove Sta amore 1983 Oboe and strings 5-6 The later version for oboe d'amore and strings.  listen N/A Self 
Happy Returns 2015 Full Orchestra 5-6 Anniversary Concert Overture (for John Rutter and the composer - both 70).  N/A N/A Self 
In Freedom's Name 1984 Tenor, Bass soli, TTBB choir, audience and Full Orchestra. 21-30 A dramatic cantata, celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Monmouth Rebellion. Text by Robin Bush. Commissioned by Somerset Orchestral Society   N/A N/A Self 
Magnificat 2003 SSAA and organ 4 First performed at Santa Maria della Pieta, Venice on 13th July 2005.   listen N/A Recital Music 
Praise to St Cecilia 1988 SSAA and organ 5-6 Soprano/Alto soli + choir and organ. Ideally to be performed on 22nd November. Recording distorted.  listen N/A Self 
Rejoice for Music 2006 for Massed voices and full orchestra 9-10 First performance in the Colston Hall, Bristol on 9th February 2007.  N/A N/A Self 
'Reminiscences' Concerto for Double bass and Orchestra 2011 Double bass and Chamber Orchestra 21-30 Commissioned by David Heyes. First performance at Holy Trinity Church, Henleaze, Bristol on 26th November 2011, soloist: Davd Heyes with Bristol Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer.   N/A N/A Self 
She Walks in Beauty 2001 Soprano, Tenor soli, SATB and Full Orchestra 21-30 Commissioned by 'Clifton High School Old Girls Society' to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Clifton High School and the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Listen to two movements here:
4. The Merry Wife of Windsor
7. Finale-Dialogue

4. The Merry Wife of Windsor (Full score)
7. Dialogue Finale Vocal Score 
N/A N/A Self 
String Quartet No 2 2010 String Quartet 21-30 First performance by the Brodowski Quartet at a lunchtime concert: University of Bristol on 23rd November 2011. The intention was to produce a pointillist musical texture, in self-contained 'blocks', each of which would correspond to one of the coloured squares in the painting. (See Score/painting link).   listen view score Self 
Sweet Somerset 2012 S/A soli, SATB and Small Orchestra 21-30 Cantata commissioned by Bruton Choral Society; settings of poems entitled The Poets' Light' by Ian Kelway.   N/A N/A Self 
The Five Joys of the Virgin Mary 1981 SSAA, 9 part brass and organ 21-30 Revised in 1997.  listen N/A Self 
The Starlight Night 2008 Voice, Clarinet and Percussion 7-8 Text by Gerard Manley Hopkins. First performed by Gemini at a lunchtime concert at the University of Bristol in February 2009.   N/A view score Self 

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