An evening with Frederick Stocken on 25/10/2012 by David Sutton


Frederick StockenIt is not often that we have a published and accomplished composer in our midst but we have one in CLESO. Frederick was persuaded by us to talk about his life and work and the result was a fascinating and informative evening. He brought along several recordings of his work and I think it is safe to say we were delighted and entranced with what we heard and witnessed. The following is a consommé of the highlights which figure in my memory banks.

Frederick played us several of his works on his audio equipment and the one that sticks out for me was the haunting ‘Lament for Bosnia’ for solo cello and orchestra which was commissioned by the Bosnian government. Initially he was perplexed as to how to approach this very complex and deeply sad subject until he had a mental ‘nudge’. Frederick then remembered his own background and the agonies suffered when humans brutalise humans in that his grandmother entered Auschwitz and didn’t come out. The result in music is this piece. It deserves to be very widely known and, to me, is just as moving as the Samuel Barber adagio. Extracts were also played from a Mass written for Brompton Oratory. The effect was mesmerising with full orchestra, choir and organ going full tilt in the Sanctus (I think). I urge you to get on the phone to Classic FM and request these!

Frederick also told us of his awakening for writing for his instrument, the organ, and told us about ‘Angels’ and he played us the last movement. This is a set of four pieces each depicting a sound picture of the four Archangels. The breadth and majesty of these heavenly beings is so easily given to be performed on this instrument and, in my view, Frederick’s thought of orchestrating these pieces is to be encouraged as it would lend a new dimension to the sound.

His composing style is firmly grounded in tonality - I am sure I am not alone when I get lost with some of the more avant-garde offerings we now sometimes get. You can absorb Frederick’s music easily at first hearing.

It was an evening which was enjoyable as well as enlightening. A good crowd of CLESO members and folk from St Mary’s Church attended and afterwards we repaired to the refreshments served us by Jane Regan of St Mary’s choir and her team. The effective audio equipment was operated very efficiently by Lucia Aiche. Thanks are due to the rector and PCC of St Mary’s Church for allowing us to use the church and magnificent 3 manual Grant Degens and Bradbeer organ which Frederick used to great effect during the evening.

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