(1974 - )
“If you had to create from scratch the perfect 21st century musician, Alexander L’Estrange would be your template.”
This accolade (from composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall) acknowledges not only L’Estrange’s outstanding musicianship – he graduated with a First in Music from Merton College, Oxford, and was a chorister in the famous New College Choir – but also his huge versatility. Born in 1974, he is active as a composer, arranger, jazz double bass player and pianist, and has carved a successful career working in a variety of musical fields and with respected musicians around the world. He has shared the stage with jazz greats John Dankworth and Kenny Wheeler, toured the world with The Swingle Singers, conducted thousands of children at the Royal Albert Hall for the Primary Proms and musically directed the National Youth Music Theatre in shows on Broadway and in Edinburgh, Japan and London. His TV and film credits include singing, playing on, and writing a number of soundtracks, theme-tunes and “idents”: he is the voice on the BBC1 “helicopters” clip, and he also appears as part of the church choir in a number of episodes of The Vicar of Dibley.
L’Estrange’s compositions are testament to this eclectic mix, with echoes not just of Finzi, Howells and Messiaen from his Oxford choral background, but also jazz, pop, music theatre and world music influences. Since the publication of his stunning debut choral anthem Lute-Book Lullaby, which he wrote for professional chamber choir Tenebrae, he has been inundated with commissions from festivals, schools, a cappella groups, choirs and choral societies alike, resulting in works including My Song is Love Unknown, again commissioned by Tenebrae, Let All the World in Every Corner Sing, performed at St Paul’s Cathedral for the commemoration of Hampton School’s 450th anniversary, On Eagles’ Wings, composed for the 2008 St David’s Festival, and a new piece for Repton School in 2009. Zimbe!, a 40-minute, African-inspired work for SATB chorus, children’s choir and jazz quintet was commissioned by Dorking Choral Society and premiered in November 2008 and brought together performers young and old from across the local community. It has since been taken up widely in the UK, USA, France, Canada, Switzerland, Kenya and New Zealand.
Other recent publications include three choral Prayers for Peace and Love’s Philosophy, lyrical settings of three love songs by the great Romantic poets that are now on the ABRSM singing syllabus. Besides choral works, L’Estrange has written an award-winning jazz-infused musical, in collaboration with novelist Michelle Magorian, entitled Hello Life!, as well as hundreds of arrangements of folk, pop, jazz, music theatre, African and gospel songs, many of which (like Songs of a Rainbow Nation) are part of Faber Music’s popular Choral Basics series; this also includes a set of choral jazz warm-ups called You Can Sing…But Can You Swing?!, co-written with his wife (musician, and inspiration for Love’s Philosophy), Joanna Forbes.
For more information on Alexander L’Estrange: http://www.alexanderlestrange.com/