MARTIN BUSSEY is a noted musician and educationist, combining the roles of composer, singer and conductor with his work for the Independent Schools Inspectorate. He was born in London in 1958 and educated at Haberdasher’s Aske’s School, Elstree before reading music as a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. He studied singing with John Carol Case and composition with Robin Holloway. He undertook postgraduate study at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Martin taught at Chetham’s School of Music from 1988 to 2013, including as Head of Music in the Curriculum and Director of Choirs, performing on disc and at the BBC Proms. Martin sings with and directs The BBC Daily Service Singers, and is a vocal tutor at The University of Manchester.
His work over more than twenty-five years with Chester Bach Singers has seen the development of a chamber choir with a wide repertoire of music, both unaccompanied and repertoire for orchestra and small choir, with particularly admired performances of works by Bach and Handel. The choir’s focus on working with young singers was recognised by a BBC Choral Ambition Award in 2010. Chester Bach Singers’ first CD England’s Glory, a collection of music about the sea, was released in June 2009.
Martin is an experienced and versatile composer with a varied catalogue of works. His interests include song, choral music for a variety of forces, and organ music, as well as instrumental works. His larger scale choral works have been well received, beginning with The Pied Piper (1985) and A Brand Plucked from the Burning (1989), his cantata celebrating the life and work of John Wesley. In 2002 the first performances of Severn Meadows were given, a work tracing the life of the poet/composer Ivor Gurney through his own writings. There have been many performances of his song cycles setting individual poets: A Chainless Soul (Emily Bronte), Poems of 1912/13 (Thomas Hardy) and Blue Remembered Hills (A E Housman). His choral music includes challenging a capella works, such as Ave Maria and Christ is the Morning Star , as well as simpler, accompanied music, for example, Listen Sweet Dove (Whitsunday). Many audiences have enjoyed his choral arrangements of classics such as I’ve Got You Under My Skin, The Carnival is Over and Sentimental Journey.
He has a great interest in the connection between words and music, giving regular recital and lecture programmes focussing on settings of individual poets (Housman, Hardy and Gurney) and the output of English song composers in general. In this capacity he is chairman of the Finzi Friends committee where he is active in promoting workshops for young performers and composers. This includes a highly successful young composer competition at the 2010 and 2013 English Song Weekends in Ludlow.
Performances of Martin’s compositions have included songs at the Newbury Spring Festival and the London Song Festival, and This Same Jesus in Poland. Mr Hancock’s Letter, performed at the 2013 Ludlow English Song Weekend, was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, as was The Windhover, performed to launch the Southwell Festival of the Arts. Organ music, including Anima Christi and And An Old White Horse… has been performed at major venues such as St John’s College, Cambridge and Temple Church, London. In March 2014 Chester Bach Singers perform his setting of Browning’s The Pied Piper.
Recently released recordings have received enthusiastic reviews, including Through a Glass a recording of songs, by Marcus Farnsworth, James Baillieu and an ensemble directed by Thomas Kemp, to include Garden Songs and Through a Glass, Darkly, released in September 2014 by Resonus Classics. Other recordings include The Song of the Nuns of Chester by Chester Cathedral Choir on Priory Records and Done is a Battle by Southwark Cathedral Girls’ Choir on Regent Records. Tom Bell’s CD Northern Lights on London Independent Records includes several organ works such as Anima Christi and Border Studies.
Future plans include Albion for Opus Anglicanum to be performed at Tardebigge in July 2015 and a new work for organ duet for Tom Bell and Richard Brasier.