Interview with Paul Mealor
Award-winning composer Paul Mealor has become a household name across the world, with his works being performed at some of the most prestigious events and venues. From classical festivals to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Wedding, Paul’s music has reached and touched so many. His Christmas Number 1 Wherever You Are, written for the Military Wives Choir, broke records and saw Paul’s music reach number 1 in both the classical and pop charts.
Lot’s of Paul’s choral music has become a staple item in most choir rooms. His instrumental compositions are also making waves, with his symphonies and concertos also receiving lots of attention. His accessible and engaging style makes him one of the most popular living classical composers.
I was able to catch up with Paul this week to talk all things choral music, his inspirations and what’s coming next for him:
1) You’re now one of the most performed living composers in the world. What does this feel like?
It’s very moving to me to think that so many people are now listening to my music and finding something in it. To write music from your heart has to be one of the best things to do in the whole world and it’s deeply touching to find that people are enjoying it.
2) Do you have a process of choosing texts to use for your choral works?
Texts are crucial to me and often spurn musical ideas. I spend hours and days reading poetry and texts and only set it if it ‘speaks’ to me. Often people send me to exits to or suggest poets I might find interesting and often I do. Then I read, re-read and analyse them and, if they speak to me emotionally and intellectually, I then see if I can use them. Sometimes, even if it is the very best poetry, it doesn’t speak to me as a composer.
3) What intrigues you the most about the relationship between text and music?
Everything! I love the poetry in music and the music in poetry. In a successful marriage between poetry and music, something new and very special happens. They both, in their most successful guises, add something to each other.
4) Your music has been performed on some of the most famous stages in the world, by some of the best musicians today. Do you have any premiere highlights over the years?
Oh, it’s very difficult to pick a favourite as it’s has been wonderful to hear my music on CARNEGIE Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, etc. But, if I have to pick one, it has to be hearing my motet, Ubi caritas sung in Westminster Abbey at the wedding of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. That was very special indeed.
5) What’s next for your music? Do you have any projects lined up for 2020 that we can look forward to?
I do – I’ve just finished a piano concerto and two new albums of my music are due out this month. Then, an anthem to mark the centenary of the birth of Pope John Paul II will premiere in April an I’m starting work on my fourth symphony… Lots to do!
©Alex Burns 2020
Paul Mealor’s Website