JOHN BARTON ARMSTRONG
“a composer for all seasons”
Barry passed away on 30th January 2010 and will be sadly missed for the man, the visionary and the musician
2013 marked the 90th anniversary of John Barton Armstrong’s birth. With the publication of the Cello Sonata, an extended one movement work, ‘cellist Lionel Handy and pianist Nigel Clayton took the piece up and gave several performances at various venues in the UK, including at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the London College of Music. Subsequently they then recorded the work and Sleeveless Records have just released the disc. It is available from all major sources, both as a download and as a CD, and can also be purchased, together with the newly published score, from www.fandmusic.com Further information, together with John Barton Armstrong’s published music and writings, can all be accessed at FAND MUSIC PRESS.
He has given performances of his own music in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota and Mexico. His music has been broadcast in a number of countries, and he has himself broadcast his views on practical musicianship, the act of composing, the future of serious music and other musical topics.
He is a conductor of long-standing experience, always revealing a feeling for the needs of practical musicians, whether professional or amateur.
He has made a number of appearances as accompanist, showing an immediate, sensitive response to both music and singer.
For a full catalogue of works by John Barton Armstrong, visit Fand Music at www.fandmusic.com
John Barton Armstrong was a composer of international reputation, with a wide range of achievement. Among his commissions have been:
‘Forest Impressions‘ – for the Ashford Orchestra; a record, now CD, of this orchestral suite is on the market. (See below.) It is a suite of warm, sometimes pastoral, nostalgic and beguiling music, showing the composer’s love of colourful modulation, and has been described as ‘very English’. The movements are:- Pine Silhouettes – Wistful Elm – Solid Oak – Swaying Poplar – Drooping Willow.
‘Concertino‘ – for chamber group, for a Birmingham concert of modern English music – offers a kaleidoscopic display of independently moving solo instruments, ranging from Trombone to Harpsichord, in a texture evolved from simple figures, with mobile note-clusters, all interweaving and reflecting.
‘Distant World‘ – wind trio, for a contemporary music recital. Recent performances include in Purcell Room and Surrey Heath Arts Festival.
‘Cape Horn‘ – electronic music, for a Society for the Promotion of New Music concert; later chosen for music festivals at Notting Hill and Little Baddow. An imaginative ‘electric’ representation of a tempestuous passage through the seas off Tierro del Fuego.
‘Incident at Waterloo‘ – suite for string orchestra, for Wellington College, and vividly depicting and reflecting on the Battle of Waterloo.
‘Cello Sonata‘ – for the recitalist, the late Pamela George. Performed by Markus Stocker and Michael Dussek at St. John’s Smith Square, and on BBC Radio 3. Recent performances include in Purcell Room.
‘The Musicians’ Carol‘ – a simple but engaging piece, for an ISM function.
‘Airborne‘ – a piano suite, for a Kensington contemporary music concert. It is a set of characteristic pieces, each quite briefly, but with great clarity, and unusually, suggesting some aeronautical experience. Written during the composer’s tours of Latin America, and dealing with various finger techniques, titles range from Glider, Cirrus and Ballooning to Caribbean Cumulus, Parachute and Over the Pole.
‘The Times Have Changed; Surrey in Legend and Music‘ – a concert of the composer’s poetry, dialogue and music, for one of the Surrey Heath Arts Festivals.
His third string quartet was first performed at a Festival of English Music at South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell; it was then broadcast, and a record of it is on the market. (See below.) The quartet broke new ground in the handling of this exacting medium, tapping a rich seam of musical devices – and not without a display of sheer harmonic revelling. It is odd, perhaps, but are we right in thinking the scherzo has acquired an illusion that it should really have been born a Samba?
This quartet signalled the way to fully symphonic writing.
Click on the links below to hear some examples of John Barton Armstrong’s music
Forest Impressions – Wistful Elm
String Quartet No.3 Movement 1
An extract from the Cello Sonata
Forest Impressions – Swaying Poplar
Distributor: FAND MUSIC – Glenelg, 10 Avon Close, Petersfield, Hampshire, GU31 4LG
Tel and Fax: 01730 267341
OBELISK MUSIC – 32, Ellerdale Road, London NW3 6BB
Tel: 0171 435 5255
Penelope Cave, solo harpsichordist and past pupil of John ‘Barry’ Armstrong also has pages with Impulse visit her by clicking here.
Barry always recommended a fascinating online music magazine updated daily: Music and Vision.