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  • Writer's pictureSteve Crowther

Yorkshire composers William Baines, Richard Stoker and the Pirates of the Caribbean

Pianist David Hammond continues his unique exploration of Yorkshire-born composers with a recital celebrating the music of William Baines and Richard Stoker.


William Baines (1899-1922) was a genuinely prolific composer. ‘He completed around 150 works before he died, mostly piano miniatures and many with descriptive titles. Many of these are technically advanced and are said to show the influence of composers such as Scriabin.’


As I know very little about William Baines, I am grateful to Nicholas Keyworth (Director of Revolution Arts) and the BMS for permission to use his illuminating insight into the composer’s life and music: On the trail of William Baines.


Richard Stoker (1938 – 2021) was not only a very fine composer, but he was also a real character. And Yorkshire loves characters. He was born in Castleford and studied at Huddersfield Technical College and the Royal Academy of Music (1958). His teachers included Harold Truscott (Huddersfield), Lennox Berkley (RAM) and Nadia Boulanger (Paris 1962). He returned to London and took up the post of Professor of Composition at the RAM. He edited Composer magazine, wrote poetry and fiction.


Stoker was a prolific composer:


‘Richard’, says his wife, Gill Stoker, ‘wrote many works, including an opera, Johnson Preserv’d, a piano concerto, string quartets, piano trios, song cycles, choral works, orchestral works and organ music. He also wrote for films, TV and theatre productions. His style is modern but accessible, full of his optimistic, joie de vivre personality. To quote a long-term organist friend, Richard Townend: “His soft voice and lilting Yorkshire accent are reflected in his music which, while modern, is full of rich melodic invention without any harsh dissonances.”’


Incredibly in his later years Richard Stoker took up acting: his credits include Last Christmas, Dark Shadows, a turn as a body double for John Hurt in Hercules and, you guessed it, Pirates of the Caribbean.


David Hammond will be performing William Baines’ Pictures of Light and Richard Stoker’s Eboracum – a Yorkshire Suite as well as music by Ruth Karn, Matt Dibble and David Hammond on Friday 5 April at 1.00pm. Please visit this link for concert and ticket details.

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