Russell Pascoe, Festival Composer in Residence 2018

A Cornishman, Russell Pascoe was educated at Helston School and Bristol University, where he studied composition with Derek Bourgeois. He has written for most combinations of instrumental and vocal forces. In recognition of his services to music in Cornwall, he was elected a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd in 2000.


Important earlier works include: Four Cornish Folksongs for voice and piano (composed for Benjamin Luxon) and later orchestrated; his opera The Murder of Charlotte Dymond, with a libretto by Christopher William Hill (1999); and his orchestral works The Martyrdom of An Gof (premiered at the Barbican, London in 1997); and Yseult of the White Hands (commissioned by the Cornwall Sinfonia, 2007).


Pascoe has developed a fruitful partnership with St Mary’s Singers, resulting in the commissions, Love’s Agonie (Three Medieval Lyrics) and Salmow Kernewek (Cornish Psalms), available on CD. His Pader an Arleth, a setting of the Lord’s Prayer in Cornish, ‘Lo, how a Rose’, Missa Brevis, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis  and Salutation Carol have all been recorded by Truro Cathedral Choir.


Recent commissions have included: Keskan I, celebrating 100th Anniversary of Cornwall Music Festival; ‘The Harrowing of Hell, a work for four soloists and organ, for Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary; a piece to open Truro Choral Society’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations and Keskan III which was premiered this June as part of the High Sheriff’s Concert in Bristol Cathedral.


In 2012 Pascoe was commissioned by the Three Spires Singers to compose the Secular Requiem, to a text assembled by Anthony Pinching. This substantial work (“outstandingly beautiful…, universal, and – ultimately – full of hope.” – Bel Mooney) was premiered in Truro Cathedral in March 2013, and had its London premiere later that year, proving popular with both choir and the capacity audiences.


2015 saw two more premieres: The song-cycle, Three Masks, One Face was commissioned by Truro 3 Arts, written for Marcus Farnsworth and Iain Burnside, and also performed by them at Truro College and St Endellion Festival, and the large scale Cantata, A Different Child, the third major collaboration with Anthony Pinching as librettist, which was a collaborative project for St Mary’s Singers, local school choirs, soloists and instrumentalists.


The partnership with Anthony Pinching continued in 2015 with the song-cycle, Three Masks, One Face, commissioned by Truro 3 Arts, for Marcus Farnsworth and Iain Burnside, and the large scale cantata based on the apocryphal legends of Christ,  A Different Child.


Russell is delighted to be the Composer in Residence for the Exon Festival and has enjoyed composing music for its concerts.