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Richard Allain

Born: 1965

Nationality: British

Publisher: Novello & Co

Richard Allain's works encompass a wide range of styles, including music theatre, instrumental pieces, sacred choral music, song-writing and works for children. Such is his versatility, he has been commissioned to write music for broadcast on BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4. Choral music is at the heart of his output. His work has been performed by many of the country’s leading choirs and musicians (including the BBC Singers, The Choir of St Paul's Cathedral, Collegium Regale, Commotio, ORA and The Bach Choir). Allain was, for many years, Composer in Association for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain with whom he made several recordings including the acclaimed CD When I’m Gone (Delphian). His music is regularly performed and broadcast within the UK and in countries throughout the world.

Allain’s highly evocative setting of Salve Regina was written in 1992, and was later performed at the BBC Proms. The large-scale choral work I sleep but my heart is awake was written for the saxophonist John Harle, and soprano Sally Matthews. Vespers is a multi-movement work for soloists, chorus and orchestra which draws on texts inspired by the sea. Videte miraculum was commissioned by ORA as a reflection on Tallis's original. Allain's highly imaginative response features on the CD Many are the wonders (Harmonia Mundi). Liturgical music also features in Allain's output, with sets of canticles written for both Wells and Norwich cathedrals. Originally written for a friend’s wedding, Cana's Guest was later selected to form part of the Choirbook for the Queen, a collection of contemporary choral music published to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. It has since become a liturgical staple in many UK choral foundations. 

Allain has written Christmas carols throughout his career, from the miniature Balulalow, written when he was still at school, to Welcome, all wonders, which was commissioned by Collegium Regale and broadcast live on Christmas Eve from King’s College Chapel. His haunting setting of In the bleak midwinter has been recorded by several choirs. Similarly, Coventry Carol has firmly established itself as part of the Christmas choral repertoire with choirs both at home and abroad. More recently, Allain has written two Epiphany carols The Beloved and The Magi's Gifts for Merton College, Oxford, with both setting texts by his brother Thomas.

Deeply committed to music education, together with Thomas, Allain has written several cantatas for young voices. One such light-hearted collaboration, Jake and the Right Genie, was commissioned by the Surrey Millennium Youth Festival. It has since been performed by over 10,000 school children and, on one occasion, an entire Yorkshire village! With its gentle homage to the great David Bowie, Manger Tom retells the Christmas story from the point of view of the stable boy at Bethlehem. Other collaborations include a symphonic rock theatre piece based on Oscar Wilde's Salomé

In 2018, Delphian released a CD solely of Allain's choral music, recorded by Benjamin Nicholas and the Choir of Merton College, Oxford. 

In addition to a busy composition schedule, Richard is Director of Music at Norwich School.
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