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Music for you to play and sing … from Nigel Don

Arranging Christmas …


History caught up with me when I received a phone call from Ray Tennant, a brass band conductor I'd not seen in twenty five years, but who had just rediscovered some arrangements I gave him. They were a surprisingly legible manuscript set of parts which the band had not only enjoyed playing but have now recorded for a fund raising CD.

I'm delighted to say that you can hear Ray’s recordings with the Whitburn Band of my arrangements on the Brass Band pages. You can also download, free of charge, sheet music for the arrangements of "Silent Night" and "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" together with a short score for the conductor.

Happy playing and Happy Christmas!

To hear ourselves as others hear us …


I was privileged a few weeks ago to hear my Suite on Brother James’ Air played in Durham Cathedral by the sub-organist Francesca Massey. It was of course a great thrill to hear the piece played by such a fine organist on such a magnificent instrument. But it was also a significant learning experience for me – a point which may not be obvious to those who are not composers.

There are two reasons why we need feedback from quality live performers. Firstly because it is only then that we get to see what the audience actually thinks of a work; and secondly because once music is in the hands of quality performers anything which then seems unsatisfactory must be inherent in what we wrote, and there will be lessons to learn.

It’s not about “knowing what it sounds like”, not least because computers can now show us that pretty accurately; it’s about understanding what performers and audiences make of the music and there’s no short cut to that.

So if you run a choir or an orchestra composers will continue to pester you with scores they’d like you to perform; it’s not just self-promotion, it’s also part of the learning process.

The Cello Quartet … full score, no charge


The Christmas and New Year break has given me an opportunity to dust off and revise some old pieces, and I’m now in a position to put the Cello Quartet I wrote for Lynda MacGregor and her friends in the Cello Consort in 1992 on this website (see News and Cello Quartet).

It’s interesting to reflect on the way in which communication has changed in the intervening twenty five years. We did have music software so the original was not in manuscript, but the internet was the preserve of academics so bits of paper needed to be printed and despatched via the Royal Mail.

Now I can enable you to access the score and parts anywhere on the globe and without charge. The outer movements are quite challenging particularly for the first cello, but the slow movement should be useful to any teacher looking for material for a group of pupils. I hope it’s useful.

Singing for Macmillan Cancer Support

Spring 2017; I was delighted to hear that the singing group Tonic Solway is helping to raise funds for Macmillan at their Spring Concert (see News)

Macmillan plays a hugely important role in looking after people who are living with cancer, and the work of their nurses is well appreciated.

Tonic Solway’s programme is interesting and varied; it includes my settings of songs by Hilaire Belloc and John J Bell, and if you can get to Gatehouse of Fleet or Newton Stewart for the concerts, I am sure you will enjoy them.

Singable Psalms; and a blessing

Nigel is relieved …

11 November 2017; I recently had the opportunity to hear some of my choir pieces rehearsed by the choir of St Mary’s Church, Dundee with their musical director Graeme Stevenson at the organ.

It was great fun to hear what they really sounded like, and encouraging to know that the choir felt it was all singable. This is always a practical concern because my Sibelius programme can “sing anything”. So the settings of Psalm 27, Psalm 119 (no, not all of it) and the Aaronic blessing have been given a clean bill of health.

Many thanks to Graeme and his choristers. The psalms are both for SATB choir and organ; the Aaronic blessing also in four parts but unaccompanied.

You can find the music on this website in Church Music, and proper printed copies are available from me on request. (SATB=Soprano Alto Tenor Bass)

A New Magnificat … or Mary’s Song

Nigel writes …

Hearing the singers at Christmas carol services is always enjoyable and even inspiring. This year I had the opportunity to produce a new version of Mary’s Song (sometimes known by its Latin name: the Magnificat).

Members of Chalmers Church in Morningside, Edinburgh, performed Mary’s song. Three singers were accompanied by an instrumental group comprising flute, violin, clarinet (covering the 2nd violin part), cello and piano. It’s always a privilege to hear musicians play music I have composed or arranged.

The score is on the website on the Church Music page; and I’ll also make the parts available here in good time for next Christmas.

Looking forward to a musical 2018!