Janet Wheeler
  Home Biography Inspiration Compositions Commissions What's new? Reviews Contact  
quote Janet Wheeler's choral music is cleverly crafted with a keen sense of poetryquote

Dr Colin Durrant

Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education, University of London Conductor University of London Chamber Choir & Imperial College Choir

What's new?

“A Poison Tree" at St.Andrew's Church, Farnham

Joanna Tomlinson conducts Farnham Youth choir in a programme of music to launch its 2017/18 season.  An exciting and eclectic programme of sacred and secular works, including new repertoire and some old favourites.

St. Andrew's Church Farnham
aturday 14th October 7:30pm

Hendrix College Carol Competition

Hendrix College, Arkansas, established its Candlelight Carol services, modelled on the Christmas Eve services from Kings College Chapel, in 1964. Janet’s entry Behold, I Come, was selected from over 65 submissions for the 2017 Candlelight Carol Competition and will be premiered on 30 November at the start of a regional tour by the choir.

Granta Chorale "Gather The Good Days" at St.Mary's Church, Linton, Cambs.

This concert takes its title from the new song cycle commissioned by the daughters of Barbara Tealby in memory of their mother and forms a companion piece to Janet’s much-loved John Clare cycle “Time Becomes A Song” which commemorates Barbara’s husband Alfred.  The texts include “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" by Yeats and the children’s nursery rhyme “Little Mousey Brown”.

St. Mary's Church Linton
Saturday 21st October

“Alleluia, I Heard a Voice” at Saffron Hall

Ben Parry conducts the NYCGB Training Choir (South) in a programme of music ranging from Tallis to Lennon and McCartney. Janet’s setting of the Revelations text (well known from the Weelkes version) sits perfectly in this eclectic mix.  Its up-beat style coupled with a sensitivity to the text means it sits as well in a summer concert of part-songs and spirituals as in Evensong (Andrew Parnell)

To listen to "Alleluia, I Heard a Voice" click on Track 10 in the audio player to the right.

Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden
Sunday 2
0 August 5:00pm

Dowland Variations

These variations on John Dowland's love song Come Away, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite were composed originally to be played by a wedding string quartet. This is the first performance in an extended version for string orchestra, including two new variations.

Harlow Symphony Orchestra - St John's Church, Epping
Sunday 2 July 7.30pm

Songs and Visions of Joy

Psallite Women's Choir (director Nancy Hadden) commissioned this work with support from Cockayne Grants for the Arts and the London Community Foundation.
The text weaves together joyful extracts from Psalm 68, Walt Whitman, Thomas Campion and Emily Bronte. Rhapsodic bursts of renaissance flute punctuate shifting choral and solo textures and little touches of percussion add colour and sparkle.

Psallite Women's Choir - The Old Church, Stoke Newington
29 June 7.30pm

By Thee I Will Abide

As part of Granta Chorale’s concert O Radiant Dawn, Granta Chorale will give the premiere of By Thee I Will Abide. With a Psalm-based text, this begins with a troubled and anguished plea for mercy. Then at the resolution ‘By Thee I will Abide’ a soothing lullaby combines a repeating mantra-like accompaniment with weaving canonic lines over the top. Two canons then combine and gradually subside to a peaceful ending.

First performance in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel April 22nd 2017

The piece will also be performed by Granta Chorale in Saffron Hall on May 14th as part of their programme of Motets from Bach to MacMillan.

Both concerts also include Alleluia I Heard a Voice

Everyone Sang - new commission by Farnham Youth Choir

Conductor Joanna Tomlinson has commissioned this setting of First World War poet Siegfred Sassoon’s most famous poem for Farnham Youth Choir. The poem encompasses a joyful reaction to the end of the war and perhaps too the way that an outbreak of singing in the trenches had banished the horror. The setting develops ideas inspired by the poem’s sudden universal joy and bird imagery and its recurring main theme repeats and dies away to the end with the sustained conviction that “the singing will never be done”.
This concert on March 22nd is part of Farnham Festival 2017

I Sing and Ever Shall - new commission by Southampton Philharmonic Choir 26th November

Written for baritone soloist, mixed chorus and orchestra, this is a joyful celebration of singing. Words by Emily Dickinson, Rabindranath Tagore, Sara Teasdale and Abraham Cowley in their differing ways all examine the special powers and attributes of singing. In amongst them comes an energetic dance movement sung entirely to nonsense syllables inspired by Scottish mouth music and vocal exercises. The finale sets a poem by Robert Herrick and builds to a climactic conclusion on the words of the title ‘I Sing and Ever Shall’, a confident assertion for any choir to embrace.

The Ceaseless Round of Circling Planets
25th November

The London première will be given by Imperial College Choir and Orchestra (Director Colin Durrant) at Holy Trinity Church SW7.  Janet conducted the first performance in the final concert of the 2016 Thaxted Festival. In tribute to Gustav Holst, founder of the Festival 100 years ago, the piece combines texts about the harmony of the spheres with Orlando Gibbons’ glorious Renaissance hymn Eternal ruler of the ceaseless round of circling planets, Singing on their way. Atmospheric colour is added by overtone singing and the vibrant ethereal sound of the waterphone.

2016 abcd Convention 26-28 August– Repertoire Sessions, Panel Discussion and MazeMusic Stand

Janet will lead an introductory session to her new score The Ceaseless Round of Circling Planets during the Repertoire Session for independent composers’ music. 

By contrast her setting of Hinei Ma Tov (from Psalm 133) will be sung in a session on music of different faiths led by Jeremy Haneman (Mixed Up Chorus)

MazeMusic’s stand in the trade exhibition will be well stocked with new scores for all abilities and plenty of old favourites – with free advice from the composer thrown in!

Colchester New Music

Janet’s composition Of Beaks and Quills will be premièred by Francis Knights and the Dulcis Venti quartet led by Stephen Watkins on June 4th 2016 at the Headgate Theatre Colchester

Introit wins Friends of Cathedral Music Diamond Jubilee Composition Competition

Janet’s prizewinning Introit We Sing to God the Spring of Mirth will be premiered at a Festal Evensong at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 25th June, 4pm.  The service will celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Friends of Cathedral Music and the Introit will be sung by Southwark Cathedral Great Choir (Boys, Girls and Men).  Members of the Friends of Cathedral Music will receive copies, published by Novello. 

Premiere of "All Heaven Before Mine Eyes" commissioned by St.Michael's Bishops Stortford Sunday 29th May 6pm

To mark the completion of the rebuilding of the church organ and in celebration of the church’s strong choral tradition, St Michael’s has commissioned this festival Anthem.  A text drawn from Dryden and Milton, framed by the Latin Gradual Locus Iste, celebrates the combined power of “the sacred organ’s praise” and “full-voiced choir” to bring “All Heaven before mine eyes”.

Latest newsletter out now

View here and email mailto:fiona@mazemusic.biz to subscribe

I Fagiolini sing "Music to Hear" on Radio 3 

I Fagiolini (Robert Hollingworth) will sing Sonnet 8 (Music to Hear) at Wigmore Hall on Monday 11 April 2016 at 1pm as part of the Radio 3 Lunchtime series. Premièred in 2015 by the Chamber Choir of National Youth Choirs Great Britain in Southwark and Durham, the piece will have March 2016 performances by ULCC (Colin Durrant) and Chandos Chamber Choir (James Davey). NYCGB plan further repeats in July and October 2016.

Responses live on Radio 3

Gloucester Cathedral Choir (Adrian Partington) sang Janet’s Preces and Responses in their Evensong on December 9th 2015, broadcast live from Gloucester Cathedral.

Choros commissions advent carol

On December 6th 2015 Choros gave the première of The Christmas Life, Janet’s setting of Wendy Cope’s poem for SATB and piano, commissioned by Choros director Janet Lincé for the choir.

"Time Becomes A Song" - Granta Chorale in Saffron Walden Saturday 10th October 

Janet's very popular settings of poems by John Clare come home to the choir which first performed them in 2009. Part of a varied programme "from Monteverdi to Moon River" given in the beautiful and acoustically fine Council Chamber of UDC.


Shakespeare's Sonnet 8 - "Music To Hear"
First performance Wednesday 1st July 7:30pm
Southwark Cathedral in the City of London Festival

National Youth Chamber Choir, conductor Ben Parry.

As part of an all-Shakespeare programme The Play's The Thing ,the NYCGB Chamber Choir will give the premiere of this SATB setting of the poet’s attempt to persuade a young man to get married by drawing an analogy between the harmonies of music and wedded bliss.


"Time Becomes A Song" London Premiere
Thursday 25th June 7pm
St. Vedast, Foster Lane, London EC2V 6HH.

Illumination Chamber Choir, conducted by Alexander Campkin, will give the first London performance of Janet’s popular song cycle of John Clare poems.  Clare’s powerful evocation of nature and of his intense feelings for his first love are matched by the choral agility and melting beauty of the musical settings.

Commissioned in 2009 by the family of Alfred Tealby, with support from OCR, the work was first performed in a special celebration of the life and work of John Clare in Glinton Church (where he attended school) near his birthplace in Helpston, Cambridgeshire.


"Sleep, O Cluster of Friends" premiere at Saffron Hall, Saturday 6th June at 7:30pm.

Janet’s setting of Matthew Arnold’s elegy for the Brontes, for chamber choir and harp, will be sung by Granta Chorale as part of its summer concert.  Harpist Anne Denholm returns to Saffron Walden to accompany the choir.

The piece combines traditional and modern techniques for the harp, first evoking gentle summer on the Yorkshire moors but then recognising that the stormier side of the Brontes’ landscape was more in keeping with their muse.


God is Everywhere premiere in London Festival of Contemporary Church Music 17th May.

Janet’s setting of John Clare’s poem God is Everywhere for choir and organ was performed as the communion anthem at the Festival Eucharist at St Pancras’ Church, Euston Road on the final day of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. The choir of St Pancras Church was directed by Christopher Batchelor with organ accompaniment from Leon Charles.

Gaudeamus Igitur in JAM "Music of our Time" - Brandenburg Choral Festival

JAM (John Armitage Memorial) has chosen Gaudeamus Igitur for inclusion in the Music of our Time concert on Wednesday 18th March at St Bride’s, Fleet Street.  The concert, given by the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge and Onyx Brass was conducted by Nicholas Cleobury and formed part of the Brandenburg Choral Festival.
More details on http://www.jamconcert.org/concerts/music-of-our-time

London premiere for Magnificat cum Angelis

The University of London Chamber Choir, conducted by Dr Colin Durrant, gave the first London performance of this fascinating and accessible piece in the full orchestral version at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury on 21st March. 
More details on http://www.ulchamberchoir.co.uk/

Magnificat cum Angelis

London premiere for Gaudeamus Igitur

The University of London Chamber Choir, conducted by Dr Colin Durrant, gave the first London performance of this double choir setting of Kevin Crossley-Holland’s joyful poem at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury on 21st November.

Conductor and choir liked the piece so much they encored it at the end of the programme.  Listen to the live recording on the Compositions/Music for Unaccompanied Choir page of this website.

MazeMusic Success at abcd Convention

MazeMusic’s stand in the magnificent setting of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama was very successful in introducing more of Janet’s music to established fans and new admirers.

Janet’s Preces and Responses was commended in the Church repertoire session.  Session leader Adrian Partington praised the harmonic originality and interesting voice-leading especially in the bass line. “A very individual harmonic language with a sensitive avoidance of the obvious… the music matches the texts well.”

Cambiata Setting of Sea Fever Commended in Cornwall International Male Voice Competition

Janet’s setting of John Masefield’s poem was commended in a record field of entries of which the quality was described by the organisers as very high.  Adjudicator Alan Bullard praised the characterful piano accompaniment and added “this setting should appeal to teenage performers and their audiences”.


The Spirit of Christmas published by Hal Leonard de Haske

Following on the success of A Place in the Choir, Hal Leonard/de Haske have published Janet’s accessible and upbeat carol The Spirit of Christmas. Between the lyrical and expansive choruses, the verses draw attention to “the scared and the scorned and the sad” and all the others who are easily overlooked in the commercialism of our 21st century festivities.


Listen to an audio clip and see sample pages on http://www.halleonard.com/search/search.do?subsiteid=1&keywords=The+Spirit+of+Christmas+Janet+Wheeler  and order direct or via this website.

On the Breath of the Sky

On Saturday 21st June in Saffron Hall Janet will be conducting a performance of her cantata On the Breath of the Sky with original soloist Bethany Halliday and the Will Todd Ensemble.

This cantata, to words by Nick Warburton, deals with the plight of the albatross.  Commissioned by Saffron Walden Choral Society in partnership with the RSPB for Wingbeats in 2009, it was later recorded and extracts can be heard on the home page of this website (tracks 12-14).

The concert also includes Will Todd's Mass In Blue with Bethany as soloist.

More details on http://www.swchoral.org.uk/concert-2013-todd-wheeler.php

Gaudeamus Igitur Premiere

Granta Chorale will give the first performance of Janet’s new setting of Gaudeamus Igitur at their concert Music for Double Choirs in Saffron Hall on Saturday 10th May. 

The poem by award-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland is a joyful celebration of the natural world. Janet's ,double choir setting uses the Latin title as a refrain and a repeating accompaniment figure, often in the second choir, while the colourful descriptive language of the poem is declaimed mostly by the first choir.

Janet is no stranger to working with Kevin’s words, having composed in 2004 a setting of his Sea Tongue, the story of the drowned village of Dunwich on the Suffolk coast.

More details on http://www.grantachorale.org.uk/event036.php

Premiere of Janet's Prizewinning Anthem

At a special Evensong at St Edmundsbury Cathedral The Martyrdom of St Edmund was given a well-received first performance.

James Thomas, the Cathedral's Director of Music, said: “Janet's anthem has a great depth of drama and emotion, with real sensitivity to the words, and a strong musical structure. It has appealed greatly to both Choristers and Lay Clerks".

Afterwards all the choristers wanted Janet’s autograph.  As the Archbishop of Canterbury had visited them earlier in the day “Janet” now appears next to “Justin"!

Maze Music on social media

Janet is now on Twitter @JanetWheelerMM – please follow her!  MazeMusic has its own Facebook page too.

Janet wins St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese Competition

Anthem premiere at special Centenary Evensong, 29th March 2014

Janet’s winning entry will be premiered in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The wonderfully dramatic text recounts the death in 869 of St Edmund, King of East Anglia, at the hands of the invading Vikings.  Janet’s setting for choir and organ emphasises the contrast between these dark events and the steadfast faith of St Edmund, which provides a recurring point of optimism and hope and brings the anthem to a joyful conclusion.

Launch of MazeMusic

A new imprint publishing Janet Wheeler's music

MazeMusic was the name of the Music Nation project in which three of Janet Wheeler's choirs joined with Britten Sinfonia to celebrate the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and to perform her cantata MAZE. MazeMusic is now the name of the imprint publishing Janet Wheeler's music. The launch at the ABCD Convention in Oxford in August will unveil new editions of many of Janet's works, including Magnificat cum Angelis, Time Becomes a Song, Train in the Rain, On the Breath of the Sky and many of her shorter works.

Maze Music www.mazemusic.biz

Magnificat cum Angelis

Forthcoming performances

Guildford Chamber Choir under their conductor Steven Grahl will give the second performance of Magnificat cum Angelis on October 12th 2013, with the Chameleon Arts Orchestra and soprano soloist Robyn Allegra Parton in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. It will share the programme with Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.
Colin Durrant is planning a performance for Spring 2015 with the University of London Chamber Choir.

Granta Chorale has nominated this work for a British Composer's Award.

On the breath of the sky

in Saffron Hall June 2014

In June 2014, On the Breath of the Sky will be performed in Saffron Walden's wonderful new auditorium, Saffron Hall, by SWCS with the Will Todd Trio and soprano soloist Bethany Halliday. Bethany sang in the work's premiere in 2007 and in the recorded extracts on this site. This time she also joins the other performers in the work for which she is best-known – Will Todd's Mass in Blue, accompanied by the composer himself and the Will Todd Trio.

Commission for Old Curiosity Shop music

Janet has been commissioned to write a song and incidental music for Nick Warburton's new stage adaptation of Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop' to be performed in Cambridge in December 2013 by Bawds.

Hal Leonard/De Haske publishes

A Place in the Choir

Janet's arrangement of the Bill Staines song A Place in the choir is published by Hal Leonard/De Haske. It costs £1.95 per copy and may be ordered from HERE >

Magnificat cum Angelis  (Première)

Saturday May 12th 2012 in St Mary's Saffron Walden.

Performed as part of 'Angelus', a concert given by
Granta Chorale
Catherine Pope (soprano)
Anne Denholm (harp)
Richard Carr (organ)
Sam Wilson and Craig Apps (percussion)
Chameleon Arts Ensemble

For more information about Magnificat cum Angelis see Compositions page.
For concert information see www.grantachorale.org.uk

Two other recent premières of Janet's compositions took place in the MazeMusic concert on Saturday March 3rd 2012. This was part of Music Nation, a weekend of live music events organised by the BBC and LOCOG as a countdown event to the London 2012 Festival

For the cantata MAZE, the internationally acclaimed orchestra Britten Sinfonia joined three of Janet's choirs (Saffron Walden Choral Society, Granta Chorale and the Saffron Walden Youth Choir SignuptoSing) with baritone soloist Edward Price, soprano soloist Lydia White and narrator Mark Brignal.
For more information about MAZE see Compositions page.

At the same concert Saffron Walden Choral Society and Granta Chorale also gave the first performance of Just as I am (Five Variants of Saffron Walden). For more details of this a capella piece see Compositions page.

An article about MazeMusic appeared in the spring 2012 edition of Mastersinger, the magazine of the Association of British Choral Directors, together with a complete score of Just as I am. In celebration of Music Nation, Janet is offering this score to ABCD members to copy and perform with their choirs any time until August 2013. Please let her know if you plan to perform it.

For more information about MazeMusic including a review of the concert and many photos of the project see www.mazemusic.org.uk

In October 2011 Janet took part in a programme on Radio 4 - After the Flood, which combined the text of Sea Tongue by Kevin Crossley-Holland with interviews of people with a connection to the story and to Dunwich. Janet was interviewed about her setting of Sea Tongue, she read part of the bellwoman's speech and an extract from her setting of Sea Tongue was played.


Audio Player

Home    Biography    Inspiration    Compositions    Commissions    What's new?    Contact info