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Performing the Music of Roger Sacheverell Coke

Callaghan, Simon David (2019) Performing the Music of Roger Sacheverell Coke. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Awarded for a Collaborative Programme of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music by Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

I discovered the music of Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-72) in 2014 and since then have made four recordings and numerous new performing editions, and given concerts, broadcasts and lecture-recitals on his music. My project is the first ever indepth exploration of the composer and my recordings, made with renowned colleagues in the music industry, have presented ten of Coke’s opuses for the first time on disc. My continuing research into the composer has shown that knowledge of his personal circumstances has shaped my interpretations. This has allowed me not only to give convincing, informed performances of his works, but also to provide a blueprint for musicians to approach other lesser-known composers and bring their music into the mainstream. Indeed, an understanding of Coke’s biography based on detailed archival study and an evaluation of the existing musical sources has proved invaluable and I have shown that without it, the compositions can often be misunderstood or undervalued. No element of this project can exist without the others. My archival research has uncovered not only manuscripts of Coke’s music (the only versions that existed before my new editions), but also press cuttings and personal documents that have never been studied before. My performing editions have enabled world premiere recordings to take place, thus making Coke’s music accessible to a global audience for the first time.

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