Aston, Peter (George)

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Aston, Peter (George)

Aston, Peter (George), English conductor, musicologist, and composer; b. Birmingham, Oct. 5, 1938. He studied composition and conducting at the Birmingham School of Music (1956–60), and then musicology at the Univ. of York (1964-69; Ph.D., 1970, with the diss. George Jeffreys and the English Baroque). He was a lecturer in music (1964–72) and senior lecturer (1972–74) at the Univ. of York. From 1974 to 1988 he was prof. and head of music at the Univ. of East Anglia, where he served as a professorial fellow from 1998. As a conductor, he was musical director of the Tudor Consort (1959–65) and the English Baroque Ensemble (1967–70). From 1975 to 1988 he was conductor of the Aldeburgh Festival Singers. In 1981 he co-founded and thereafter was artistic director of the Norwich Festival of Contemporary Church Music. He was composer-in-residence and principal guest conductor of the Zephyr Point Choral Festival in Nev. in 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1999. In 1993 he became principal guest conductor of the Sacramento (Calif.) International Bach Festival. Aston was elected a fellow of the Royal Soc. of Arts in 1980. He was made an honorary fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians in 1995 and of the Royal School of Church Music in 1999. As a conductor, he has led performances of works ranging from the 15th century to the present day. He is especially known for his dedication to vocal ensemble music of the 16th and 17th centuries, and of the 20th century British repertoire. He ed. the complete works of George Jeffreys. As a composer, he has written many sacred and secular vocal pieces.

Writings

With J. Paynter, Sound and Silence (London, 1970); The Music of York Minster (London, 1972); with J. Webb, Music Theory in Practice (3 vols., London, 1992-93).

Works

DRAMATIC: Sacrapant the Sorcercer, children’s opera (1967). CHAMBER: Nocturne for Flute and Percussion (1965); 3 Pieces for Oboe (1968). VOCAL: Five Songs of Crazy Jane for Soprano (1963); Three Shakespeare Songs for Soprano and Chorus (1964); My Dancing Day, chamber cantata for Soprano, Tenor, Flute, Clarinet, and String Quartet (1966); Haec Dies, Resurrection cantata for Chorus and Organ (1972); CarmenLuminis, cantata for Chamber Choir and Wind Quintet (1975); The True Glory for Chorus and Orch. or Organ (1976); A Song of the Lord, thy Keeper for Chorus, String Orch., Piano, and Percussion (1983); From the Book of Thel, threnody for 5 Solo Voices or Small Chorus, after William Blake (1983); A Mass for All Saints for Chorus and Organ (1987); Where shall wisdom be found? for Chorus (1991); The King of Love for Soprano, Chorus, and Organ (1992); Psalm 150 for Chorus and Organ (1995); How lovely is your dwelling-place for 2 Choruses (1996); O be joyful in the Lord for Chorus and Organ (1999).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire