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Orr Robin (1909-2005)

Biography of Orr Robin:

Robin Orr was born in Scotland in 1909 where he lived until he was 25. After studying at the Royal College of Music, at Cambridge University (Organ Scholar at Pembroke College) and with Casella (in Italy) and Nadia Boulanger (in France), he moved to Cambridge, where he has spent most of his professional life. He was Organist and Director of Music at St John's College from 1938 to 1951, interrupted by war service in the RAFVR. From 1947 to 1956 he held a University Lectureship and was also a professor at the RCM. The next nine years were spent in Glasgow where he was the first full-time Professor of Music at the University and became the first Chairman of Scottish Opera, an appointment he held for 15 years. He was Professor of Music at Cambridge from 1965 to 1976 (now Emeritus). During that time he made himself responsible for the new Music Faculty buildings, including raising the necessary funds for a first-class concert hall. For many years he was a Trustee of the Carl Rosa Opera and was a director of Welsh National Opera from 1977 to 1982. He is a Mus. D. of Cambridge, an Honorary Fellow of St John's and Pembroke Colleges, Hon. Mus. D. of Glasgow and LLD of Dundee, and was made CBE in 1972. Since retirement from academic work, he has spent much time with his wife in her native Switzerland. He was given Swiss nationality in 1995 and became a member of the Association Suisse des Musiciens in 1997. Robin Orr's compositions include three commissioned operas: Full Circle (by Scottish Television for Scottish Opera in 1967, followed by four other separate productions); Hermiston (by Scottish Opera for the Edinburgh Festival in 1975); and On the Razzle (by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in 1988). He has also written three symphonies that attracted the devoted support of Sir Alexander Gibson and Norman Del Mar. The first, In One Movement, has been performed at the Edinburgh Festival, the London Proms and more than 60 other event world-wide; it was also recorded by HMV. The third, commissioned for the Llandaff Festival in 1978, was taken up in Scotland and most recently had an English premier in Cambridge conducted by Stephen Cleobury. The Sinfonietta Helvetica (BBC commission) was premiered in Glasgow (1991), recognising the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Swiss Confederation. Orr has written several works for voice and strings: From the Book of Philip Sparrow (Janet Baker with the SNO 1969, and ECO 1971) and Journeys & Places (Glasgow University 1971) performed in Cambridge in 1984 by Sally Burgess and the Endellion String Quartet with Chi-Chi-Nwanoku. The Endellion (with tenor and oboe) recently performed Four Romantic Songs (commissioned by Peter Pears in 1949). Chamber and Church music are an important part of his creative work. Songs of Zion (on texts from four of the Psalms) was commissioned for the St Asaph Festival in 1978 and first performed by Stephen Wilkinson with the BBC Northern Singers. It was performed at the Zürich June Festival in 1986 and subsequently recorded for Nimbus by George Guest and St John's College Choir. There have been a number of performances in Switzerland of the Rhapsody for Strings (1956), most notably by the Zürcher Kammerorchester and the Camerata Bern; the Rhapsody has also been performed many times in Britain, by the ECO, SNO and the City of London Sinfonia. In 1998 Robin Orr's autobiography Musical Chairs was published (by Thames Publishing). His latest work is a commission from the BBC for a piece to precede the Monteverdi Vespers, with the BBC Singers under Stephen Cleobury, premiered in Kings College Chapel on 6 August, 1999 and recorded as part of 'Sounding the Millennium'.

CD's with Orr Robin
Music by Robin Orr

ArtNr. GMCD 7196

Robin Orr - Centenary Tribute

ArtNr. GHCD 2350

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