When Sir Richard Rodney Bennett died in 2012, the members of the Central Composers´ Alliance put forward several names of notable composers with links to the rough geographical area defined by our Alliance and Nottingham-born Judith Bingham was voted in. It is, for our Alliance, a distinct honour to have such a globally recognised composer as our Patron and also one, as we discovered, who was a close personal friend of our first Patron. We could not be happier for that felicitous link.

N.B. [Editor´s note] For information on the images and details of the CDs to the right of this biography, see below after the first video.

Judith Bingham´s reputation as a choral composer is well-known although she has had considerable success in a wide variety of genres. Her biography below is taken from her website with added hyperlinks and we hope you enjoy getting to know her marvellous compositional output:

Judith Bingham (b.1952) has, until recently, combined the careers of professional singer and serious composer – an almost automatic coupling in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but a rarer one in more recent times. Born in Nottingham, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, she began composing as a small child, and then studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London: her composition studies there with Alan Bush and Eric Fenby were later supplemented by lessons from Hans Keller. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and 6 years later the BBC Young Composer award. She is the 2004 winner of the Barlow Prize for a cappella music.

After singing as an amateur with the then BBC Choral Society (now the BBC Symphony Chorus), she had begun working as a freelance member of the BBC Singers and several other choirs and vocal ensembles. In 1983, she joined the BBC Singers as a full time member of the alto section; with them she toured extensively, and sang many solo parts. She left the Singers at the end of 1995 to concentrate on her activities as a composer, though she continued to sing professionally for some years. She was their Composer in Association from 2004-2009, writing many pieces, including An Ancient Music, for choir, string trio and narrator, The Hired Hand, for choir without conductor, and Actaeon, His Strange New Face, for choir and 4 horns. During her time with the BBC Singers, they made a CD: Remoter Worlds, released on Signum.

Judith Bingham’s compositional voice is a distinctive one: her singer’s feeling for expressive melodic lines is complemented by a strong rhythmic and harmonic sense. Her music is never purely abstract in conception, but always shaped and coloured by extra-musical sources of inspiration – both from the natural world and from the world of arts and ideas. Her first commissions, in the 1970’s, were from the Finchley Children’s Music Group, the King’s Singers, and Peter Pears, but she also wrote 4 pieces for the newly formed Songmaker’s Almanac, and a string of chamber works for, amongst others, David Roblou, David Mason, Anton Weinberg, and the New London Consort, one of the first composers to write new music for medieval instruments. On joining the BBC Singers, she wrote a series of choral works, many of them based on texts compiled from disparate sources as an integral part of the compositional process. Several of these were for the BBC Singers, but there were also pieces for other professional, amateur and collegiate choirs, including Salt in the Blood, written for the BBC Symphony Chorus to perform at the 1995 Proms, a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for King’s College Cambridge, and diverse anthems and church works for the cathedrals of Winchester, Lichfield, Westminster Abbey, St John’s Cambridge, and more recently, Westminster Cathedral, Wells Cathedral and the Edington Festival. Commissions from American choirs included 3 works for the St. Louis Chamber Choir, the Episcopal Cathedral in Albuquerque, and many collaborations with Philip Brunelle and VocalEssence. However, her reputation was made by the performance of Chartres, a 40 minute work for large symphony orchestra, which was performed to great acclaim by the BBC Philharmonic under Jane Glover in 1994, and was recently conducted by James MacMillan in Liverpool Cathedral.

Although Bingham’s output is marked by the number and variety of its choral works, she has always been seen as an all-rounder, and the scope of her activities has included pieces for brass band (Prague was the first test piece for the regional championships to have been written by a woman), symphonic wind ensemble and various chamber groups and solo instruments, concertos for trumpet and bassoon, and several impressive works for large orchestra including Chartres (1988), recently chosen for the BBC/Royal Philharmonic Encore project, Beyond Redemption (1995) a BBC commission for the BBC Philharmonic, and The Temple at Karnak (1996). Recently she has written a series of works for solo organ, including Ancient Sunlight for Thomas Trotter’s 500th lunchtime recital in Birmingham, a short ballet for the Royal Ballet, and Down and Out for the Goldberg Ensemble and the tuba player James Gourlay.

Of more recent major works, The Christmas Truce, inspired by a celebrated incident in the First World War, was first performed by the BBC Singers and the Britten Sinfonia in Norwich in December 2003: this work, and the Missa Brevis written for Westminster Cathedral, won British Composer awards in 2004, and she won a further award in 2006 for ´My Heart Strangely Warm´dThe Ivory Tree, a music-drama for soloists, chorus and ensemble, had its first complete performances in Bury St. Edmunds Cathedral in May. A carol ‘God would be born in thee,’ was performed at the King’s College Cambridge Nine Lessons and Carols in Christmas 2004. A CD of music for chorus, brass and organ, ´The Secret Garden,´ came out recently on Naxos. In a project with the violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved her sequence The Lost Works of Paganini was played on Paganini’s violin ‘Il Cannone’ in Genoa.

A very detailed, in depth, interview with Judith Bingham which marked her 50th birthday is available by clicking HERE.

She has also been involved in many education projects. The Red Hot Nail, written for the LSO, has been performed more than 100 times, including performances in Louisiana, and the LSO also commissioned The Mysteries of Adad for a project at the British Museum. Inside the Mandala was a dance project commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic, and several of Bingham’s works have been used as the basis for work in schools. She has regularly acted as a judge in many high profile events: the BBC Young Composer of the Year, BBC Young Musician of the Year, and the Royal College of Organists’ Performer of the Year 2002, the Royal Philharmonic Prize 2005, and has lectured in many of the British music colleges, including the Royal Academy, Trinity College, the London College of Music, the Royal Northern College and Glasgow Academy, as well at Dartington, the ABCD conference, and in several American universities.

Most recently, Judith Bingham, has been commissioned to write a new work for the reinternment of King Richard III in the reordered Leicester Cathedral on March 26th 2015. Click HERE for more information.


1. The photograph above right is by Patrick Douglas-Hamilton.

2. The Leicester Mercury article is augmented by further by clicking HERE.

3. A small selection of the large number of Judith Bingham CDs which are available:

a  (i). Judith Bingham Choral Music - Wells Cathedral Choir [CDA67909]

a (ii). Chamber Works by Judith Bingham - Chamber Domaine [RES10102]

b  (i). Judith Bingham "The Everlasting Crown" - Stephen Farr (organ) [RES10108]

b (ii). Judith Bingham Piano Music - David Jones (piano) [TOCC0181]

c  (i). Choral Music by Judith BIngham - BBC Singers (David Hill, conductor) [SIGCD144]

c (ii). Judith Bingham Organ Music - Tom Winpenny (organ) & The Dmitri Ensemble [8.572687]


There follows a very interesting video on YouTube with Judith Bingham talking about her composing and her contribution to the CHOIRBOOK FOR THE QUEEN.

Judith Bingham´s works cover a huge range of genres and ensembles and, whilst she is often unfairly thought to be mainly a choral composer, it is stunning pieces like Water Lilies which demonstrate her international reputation for choral sonorities, beautiful melodic lines and textures: