Biography of Pott Francis:
Born in 1957, Francis Pott was a chorister at New College, Oxford, and a Music Scholar at Winchester College and Magdalene College, Cambridge. At Cambridge he studied composition with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood while pursuing piano studies as a private pupil of Hamish Milne in London. He remains active as a solo recitalist and accompanist, and maintains an occasional piano duo partnership with Jeremy Filsell. He has appeared at the Wigmore hall and been heard on BBC Radio 3 playing his own works. Since 1981 Pott has received four national awards for composition. In 1997 he won First Prize in the piano solo section of the Second International Prokofiev Composing Competition, Moscow. The work in question, Toccata (dedicated to Marc-André Hamelin), has been performed in Russia, and more recently the American virtuoso Frederic Chiu gave the London première at the 'Pianoworks' Festival, Blackheath Concert Halls. Pott's output includes several solo piano works. However, he has attracted most attention for his organ music and sacred choral works. In both he has sought selectively to harness fifteenth and sixteenth century polyphonic techniques to a quietly distinctive harmonic idiom. An unusually rigorous use of motivic counterpoint, allied to a concern with the symphonic methods of Nielsen, has found favour in Britain and also particularly in the USA, Germany and Scandinavia. Pott's style, difficult to pigeon-hole, has been compared in the press with composers as diverse as Nielsen, Barber, Janácek, Messiaen, Martin, Tippett, and even Fauré, though it could be mistaken for none of these. Pott's growing concert output includes sonatas for violin and for 'cello (both with piano), songs, a piano quintet and a number of works for oboe (the composer's second instrument). In these a greater Romantic lyricism is apparent, although use of tonality remains free: one critic has noted that in the 'Cello Sonata it "fades in and out like a radio signal, but you know it originates somewhere and is strong there". Pott's work has been heard in at least 15 countries worldwide and broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic. A steady stream of commissions has included the 1999 Elgar Commission for the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, entitled A Song on the End of the World (after a poem of the same name by Czeslaw Milosz, written in Warsaw in 1944). This work, a seven movement, multi-textual oratorio for soloists, chorus and orchestra, seeks both to articulate a passionate plea for world peace and to find a coherent divine purpose in the face of worldly suffering by discovering the image of the Crucifixion re-enacted within the human atrocities of each successive age. The world première took place in Worcester Cathedral four months before the new Millennium performed by Judith Howarth (soprano), Sarah Fryer (mezzo-soprano) and William Clements (bass), the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Adrian Lucas. Current and future projects include concertos for piano and for cor anglais, an ensemble work for brass and percussion, and a three act opera. Pott is also composing a two-piano work which he will perform with Jeremy Filsell. Being both delayed by other projects and made for two, it is entitled Tandem. He has written many virtuoso paraphrases and transcriptions of Romantic repertoire (mainly songs) for the piano. From 1991 to 2001 Francis Pott was Lecturer in Music at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and a bass lay clerk in the Choir of Winchester Cathedral under the direction of David Hill. In 2001 he was appointed administrative Head of Music at London College of Music & Media (the arts faculty of Thames Valley University), the following year becoming its Head both of Composition and of Research Development. He is also researching a book on the output of the Russian
composer Nicolas Medtner. He lives near Winchester with his wife and two children.