... unfurls with spellbinding intensity ... GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE
Richard Allain is hard to pigeonhole as a composer. His 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. His music has is regularly performed and broadcast within the UK and in countries throughout the world. He studied at London University, and worked at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, before pursuing a parallel career in teaching and composition.
His choral music is widely acclaimed, and his work has been performed by many of the country’s leading choirs and musicians (including BBC Singers, St Paul's Cathedral, Collegium Regale, Commotio, ORA, The Bach Choir, etc). 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).
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. Shadows of Night (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). Originally written for a friend’s wedding, Cana's Guest was later selected to form part of The Queen's Choir Book, 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 U.K. choral foundations.
Music theatre output includes a symphonic/rock chamber opera based on Oscar Wilde's Salomé, and a full-scale reworking of L'Abbe Prevost's classic tale Manon. Allain's skill in adapting his musical language for different genres has also given rise to an album of new songs Cover Girl with the singer Vivienne Ekwulgo (Thriller/West End), which is due for release in 2020.
Instrumental works range from Aria written for solo cello, to New York Fragment for large orchestra. Based on a medieval source, Oriens is scored for solo trumpet and string orchestra. Chamber works include This History for piano trio, Hush Mother, I am filled with Angels for string Quartet, and a number of solo songs and song cycles, including Three Shakespeare Sonnets.
Deeply committed to music education, together with his brother 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.
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 a number of 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.
Currrent projects projects include a piece for two cellos and orchestra for an album to be recorded in 2021, and Illuninare a new work for organ which will be premiered in Westminster Cathedral.
Allain's choral output is contracted to Novello (Wise Music).