giving thanks

World-renowned British composer debuts powerful new concert in Houston

World-renowned British composer debuts powerful new concert in Houston

Howard Goodall
Top U.K. composer Howard Goodall premieres his new work in Houston. Photo courtesy of Howard Goodall

A world-renowned British composer is back in Houston to debut his latest work.

Howard Goodall, a celebrated musician, composer, and writer, will premiere his new choral work Unconditional Love 7 pm Sunday, November 14 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (3471 Westheimer Rd.) at a free performance for classical-loving locals.

Goodall’s world premiere was born out of the global pandemic and also, fittingly, centers on the theme of thanksgiving. Unconditional Love is scored for soprano solo, (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), piano, organ and brass ensemble. His piece is scored for soprano solo, (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), piano, organ, and brass ensemble.

Grace Roman, associate director of music and fine arts at the church, will perform the solo vocal pieces.

Music lovers can expect Goodall’s trademark cerebral writing, which focuses on themes that will “memorialize the loss” the world experienced during COVID, look to “hope for the future,” and “empower the young,” Goodall tells CultureMap.

“My approach to thanksgiving is quite reflective,” says Goodall. “Those parts will be more gentle and tender in their musical quality. When it gets to celebrating the young, that’s when it goes to a higher gear.”

For Goodall, this theme of thanksgiving is “quite personal,” he says. To wit, his daughter, Daisy, is a noted epidemiologist in the U.K.; his younger daughter Millie is a teacher. The composer says he took a “backseat” the past year watching the two undertake their work despite overwhelming crises.

“This piece is very, very now,” Goodall notes. “I hope the audience responds to the movement on the health workers. “And I hope that the movement on the young lights a flame inside people’s hearts, as we thank them for putting their lives on hold.”

Unconditional Love is the third world premiere for Goodall at St. Luke’s. Invictus: A Passion received its world premiere at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in 2018, while his Christmas Cantata debuted in 2019.

With the new work, the holidays of Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving will all have been honored by Goodall and St. Luke’s.

Easily one of  Britain’s best-known composers of choral music, stage musicals, TV and film scores, and a distinguished music historian and broadcaster, Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem has had more than 550 live performances throughout the world since its première in 2008 and won him a Classical BRIT Award for Composer of the Year.

Expect a poignant, rousing, celebratory work. “I think I write good tunes,” jokes Goodall, dropping his Brit humility for a quick quip.

The composer says he’s “thrilled” to be back in Houston. “It’s just an incredibly diverse city overflowing with life,” he says of the Bayou City. “Just an incredibly warm, embracing, hug of a city.”

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Unconditional Love premieres at 7 pm Sunday, November 14 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd. in the main sanctuary. For more information, visit www.stlukesmethodist.org. Free.