Director & Conductor
Alan Tavener read music at the University of Oxford where he was awarded the Heberden Organ Scholarship to Brasenose College. He studied organ with Nicholas Danby, gaining performance and teaching diplomas, and graduated with an honours degree in music. He subsequently studied conducting with Roderick Bryden and George Hurst, and recently undertook a postgraduate course in applied educational research studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, graduating MSc in 2012.
As Director of Music at Strathclyde University, Alan combined teaching and research with the promotion of a professional concert series and the formation and direction of a wide range of student choirs, orchestras and ensembles, including Strathclyde University Chamber Choir. As Director of Music at Jordanhill Parish Church in Glasgow, he formed and directs a community choir, a children’s choir and an ecumenical liturgical choir, and has recorded a CD of organ works. He is also Musical Director of Eastwood Choral Society, Conductor of the Scottish Plainsong Choir, and leads music classes and a choir for Strathclyde University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning.
Together with Rebecca Tavener, in 1982 Alan founded Cappella Nova, the award-winning professional vocal ensemble which has established an unrivalled reputation as champions of Scotland’s unique treasury of early vocal music (notably the music of the 16th century Scottish polyphonist, Robert Carver), as well as being renowned for its performances of contemporary music, having commissioned and premiered more than 60 new works, which include John Tavener’s monumental three-hour oratorio, Resurrection (1990) broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and James MacMillan’s cantata for Holy Week Seven Last Words from the Cross (1994) which was the subject of seven short films for BBC2 TV. Together with its medieval offshoot ensemble Canty (directed by Rebecca Tavener), Cappella Nova has made 15 CDs, including 11 of medieval and renaissance music, all of which are ‘world premieres in modern times’, and two discs of the choral music of James MacMillan, both of which were nominated ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Gramophone. Besides appearances in many British festivals, the group has toured many engagements abroad, including Russia, the USA and several European locations.
As well as working with ad hoc choirs ranging between community choirs and one-off choral workshops, Alan is periodically invited to direct specialist workshops for other organisations, and to work with other established choirs. In 2008, he was invited to direct a master-class for postgraduate Students at the Moscow Conservatoire, to which he has received a return invitation, and has since led sessions for the Association of British Choral Directors. He continues investigative research into the holistic benefits of group-singing activities and, in that connection, presented a paper at the 2011 Making Music Conference and led a participative session in 2012 at Celebrating Silver, Strathclyde University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning 25th anniversary event.