British composer Bob Chilcott has gained popularity in his home country and beyond for choral music ranging from works for children to substantial adult compositions. Unusually, he came to composition later in life, after a long career as a singer.
Robert "Bob" Chilcott was born April 9, 1955. As with so many other vocal performers and composers, his path into music led through a place as a boy singer, in his case at the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. He rejoined the choir as a student at King's College, where he also conducted a university choral society. After graduation, he sang professionally for several years and then joined the King's Singers crossover vocal ensembles in 1985, singing tenor and remaining with the group until 1997. At that point, he departed to pursue composition full-time. One of his most popular early compositions was Can You Hear Me?, a work with a deaf protagonist that includes a sign language component. Chilcott has conducted the work in at least eight countries, including a 2001 performance in Vancouver, Canada, that featured 2,000 singers.
Chilcott's association with the New Orleans Children's Chorus has produced A Little Jazz Mass and other works. Also in New Orleans, This Day, a set of five choral songs, was premiered in 2007 at St. Louis Cathedral by a nationwide choir. In Britain he has conducted the Royal College of Music Chorus and the BBC Singers, of which he is principal guest conductor. He is also president and occasional conductor of the highly regarded Southend Boys Choir.
In the 2010s Chilcott has occupied himself with the composition of larger works, including the Requiem (2010), first performed in Chilcott's adult home of Oxford. His St. John Passion appeared in 2013, and in the U.S. his Ophelia, Caliban, and Miranda was performed at the picfest festival in Eugene, Oregon, with Chilcott conducting both a choir and the Yellowjackets jazz band. His short choral compositions are featured on numerous British cathedral choir releases, and several of his jazz-influenced works were collected on the 2017 Naxos label release All Good Things.