Christmas concert features music by Leighton Buzzard composer

Composer Philip Stopford from Leighton Buzzard
Composer Philip Stopford from Leighton Buzzard

The work of New York-based composer Philip Stopford, who hails from Leighton Buzzard, will feature in the first Christmas concert for many years presented by Leighton Buzzard Festival Singers.

It will take place at St Barnabas Church at 7pm on Saturday (December 17).

Former Pulford School pupil Philip – now director of music at New York’s Christ Church in Bronxville – started his musical career as a chorister at All Saints with Festival Singers chairman Richard Watts.

He went on to win a place with the prestigious Westminster Abbey Choir – like Richard before him – but retains his local ties as president of the Festival Singers.

Philip recalls going to Westminster Abbey with his mum for a voice trial. He was just seven and thought they might be visiting the zoo or Madame Tussauds.

He was with them for four years and toured America with the choir in 1988. He also sang at Sir Lawrence Olivier’s memorial service.

Philip – who plays the organ, piano and violin – was appointed organ scholar at Truro Cathedral when he left Bedford School. He graduated with a BA in music at Oxford and directed Keble College Chapel Choir.

At 25, he was director of music at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

He is known as a sacred music choral composer and for his contemporary a capella and accompanied settings of traditional Latin and English prayers and hymns, including the Coventry Carol, entitled Lully, Lulla, Lullay.

Three of his works appeared in the Classic FM Hall of Fame 2014.

Festival Singers spokeswoman Helen Jones said: “We are delighted to perform Philip’s lovely Christmas music among a varied festive programme of the old and the new.”

The concert will include a competition between the audience and the mighty St Barnabas organ.