Stanley Vann

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Stanley Vann (born Leicester, 15 February 1910 - 27 March 2010) was an English composer, organist, choral conductor, and choir trainer. He contributed a great deal to music in the Anglican church tradition. He was Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral from 1953 to 1977. On 15 February 2010 he celebrated his 100th birthday. He died the following month.

Early life[change | change source]

Vann was born in Leicester. He started to learn the piano when he was about six years old. At the age of 17 he learned the organ, and by the time he was 20 he had passed his ARCM, ARCO and FRCO organ diplomas.

The start of a musical career[change | change source]

In 1931 he became Assistant Organist at Leicester Cathedral. In 1933 he became Organist at Gainsborough Parish Church, then went to Leamington Spa as Organist of Holy Trinity church in 1939. He started a choir and an orchestra there: the Leamington Spa Bach Choir and the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra.

Between 1942 and 1946 he had to fight in the Second World War.

In 1949 he got the jobs of Organist at Chelmsford Cathedral and Professor of Harmony and Counterpoint at Trinity College, London. In Chelmsford he started the Essex Symphony Orchestra.

He also trained the Leicester Philharmonic choir for the famous conductors Henry Wood and Malcolm Sargent.

Peterborough[change | change source]

In 1909 Vann became Master of the Music in Peterborough Cathedral. He stayed in this job until he retired in 1977. The choir was not particularly good when he started there, but he soon made them into an excellent choir. They made many recordings. In 1971 he was given a Lambeth doctorate by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his services to music.

When he retired he first moved to Wansford in Cambridgeshire so that he was half way between his son (in Yorkshire) and his daughter (in Berkshire). He continued to work there, training the church choir, giving singing lessons, and composing. Later he moved to Yorkshire to be nearer to family. He died aged 100 after falling down and breaking his hip.

Compositions[change | change source]

Stanley Vann composed a great deal of music, mostly for the Anglican church service. His compositions include hymn tunes, anthems, motets, chants, organ music and many other pieces. One of his largest pieces is the Billingshurst Mass, for large chorus and orchestra. It was first performed in Chichester Cathedral in 2000.

In 2000 a concert was given in All Saints Church, Peterborough to celebrate his 90th birthday. On Sunday 14 February 2010 many cathedrals and churches in England arranged special concerts and services to celebrate his 100th birthday[1] . The BBC broadcast a special choral evensong on Radio 3 on Wednesday 24 February from Peterborough Cathedral (Wednesday 17 February is Ash Wednesday, so that a lot of his music would not have been suitable.).[2]

There is a scholarship in his name for young choir trainers and directors in the Anglican tradition.

References[change | change source]