We are delighted to announce that Judith Bingham OBE has agreed to become one of our Vice-Presidents. We have had a long relationship with Judith since performing and recording her Water lilies as part of ‘a Garland for Linda’ in 1999, and we were delighted to be invited to give the first performance of The drowned lovers at the Three Choirs Festival the following year.
The JCS jointly commissioned her with the Presteigne Festival for Music and the Arts to write a piece for our Gala 21st anniversary concert in 2010, and Distant Thunder received its first performance at the Cadogan Hall in June and its Welsh première in August of that year. This performance was recorded by the BBC and subsequently broadcast in The Choir and has since joined the JCS regular repertoire.
Born in Nottingham, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, before studying composition and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Her composition studies there with Alan Bush and Eric Fenby were later supplemented by lessons from Hans Keller. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and 6 years later the BBC Young Composer award.
Later composition prizes include: the Barlow Prize for a cappella music in 2004, two British Composer Awards in 2004 for The Christmas Truce (choral) and Missa Brevis: The Road to Emmaeus (liturgical), one in 2006 for My Heart Strangely Warm’d and the instrumental award in 2008 for Fantasia. She was once again nominated for an award in 2009 for Shakespeare Requiem, a Leeds Festival Chorus commission.
Judith Bingham was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to music.
You can hear the JCS in a live performance of her Distant Thunder – setting the words of a poem by Robert Bridges – on this video made for us by Howie Watkins in 2012:
Writing at the time, Judith said:
‘This piece is the latest in several re-workings I’ve done of famous, and familiar choral pieces, in which I take the harmonies and re-work them into another piece, with different words. [My Soul, There is a Country from Parry’s Songs of Farewell.] Occasionally in this piece there are overlaps that cause ambiguity in the harmony, but most of the time the harmonies are Parry’s, and in the same spacing. Some of the chords seem implausible, like the discord on the words ‘thick clouds conspire’, but choral bon bons are always much more subtle and ambiguous than we give them credit for. Along with the Bridges poem, I’ve included the words of the Nunc Dimittis which for me, are always associated with twilight.’