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John Rutter

"What We're Listening To" - John Rutter's Suite for Strings

John RutterJohn Rutter is a British composer. He attended and then served as director of music at Clare College in Cambridge and led the choir to international prominence. In 1980, Rutter was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1981 he founded the Cambridge Singers. He was also named Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians and received a Lambert Doctorate of Music from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Because of his choral background, the majority of his own compositions are for choir, such as anthems, Christmas carols, and massive, extended choral works. However, he still used British folk songs as a foundation for his Suite for Strings. The first movement, “A-roving,” opens with dramatic chords and a sweeping full-orchestra theme. A mellow middle section is based on “I sowed the seeds of love”, and then it returns to the first theme at the end of the movement. The second movement is titled “I have a bonnet trimmed with blue” and is primarily of a dance-like texture, with interspersed minor and ethereal sections. The third movement is “O waly waly” and contains the melody from “The Water is Wide.” This movement is beautiful and flowing with luscious melodies in all instruments. The final movement is titled “Dashing away,” and it is where Rutter showcases the full breadth of his ability. He contains numerous variations in melodic and harmonic voicing, texture, techniques, and even juxtaposes another melody alongside the main theme.

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