WHAT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT PAUL DRAYTON’S MUSIC

“Always showing a strong personality, Paul Drayton’s music makes direct contact with his listeners.  Vivid and often dramatic, it reflects human feelings in the context of intelligently practical writing whether for amateur or professional.”
Lionel Friend    Music Director, British Youth Opera
Guest conductor – BBC SO, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, English National Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Opera Australia, etc.


 

“I am pretty sure that when I was 8 years old, it was Paul Drayton’s music for The Hobbit at my school (of which he was then Director of Music) that inspired me to want to do the same someday – write musicals, that is.  I am still haunted by some of its melodies and the wit, beauty and ingenuity of his other works at the time, for example a super Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and an exquisite introit, Jesu, dulcis memoria that he wrote for our choir (New College, Oxford).  I owe my earliest enthusiasm to be a composer to his example.”
Howard Goodall    Composer and broadcaster


 

“Hearing Paul play the piano is a life experience everybody must have.  Like a brilliant chef he produces astonishing results regardless of the ingredients and implement he’s offered.  Make the effort and be truly inspired.”
Luke Bond    Assistant Director of Music, Truro Cathedral – after hearing Paul accompany.


 

“There are a very few pieces in the King’s Singers’ library that continue to be part of our current repertoire at all times.  Some we just like to sing: others remain because we are always being told that they are amongst people’s favourite works.  Some are both of these, including Paul’s Master-Piece – a nine-minute history of western classical music.  I must have performed it hundreds of times, but still enjoy each performance, along with the reaction from the audience.  For a work that has such a witty English text, it seems to transcend language barriers, getting a great reaction around the world.  It’s not just Master-Piece, however, for we have performed other works by Paul, such as Sonnet, and most recently A Rough Guide to the English Monarchy, an amusing romp through the Kings and Queens of England.  Paul has a great skill in being able to combine good vocal compositional techniques with amusing texts (usually by his own hand) to create entertaining works that stand the test of time.”
David Hurley  The King’s Singers


 

I think St Mark would have been honoured to have had his Passion account brought to life and set to music with such profound understanding as in your deeply moving setting. It has been a real privilege to have been part of the first performance and I’ve heard nothing but the most impassioned praise from the choir, orchestra, soloists and audience alike.
A good number of the people I’ve talked to are far from experienced when it comes to “modern music” but they have been bowled over by what they heard. Your musical language has an immediacy that really connects with people and I’m thrilled that a work that oozes integrity and makes no attempt at sugar-coating can be appreciated on first listening by specialists and non-specialists alike. The economy in your writing not only made for supreme clarity of message, but it also led to such a distilled experience that I will be considering the whole work and its journey for a long time to come.”
Christopher Gray – writing to the composer after conducting the first performance of The Passion of Christ as told by Mark the Evangelist


 

Perhaps the true star of the night was Duchy Opera MD and well-known classical maestro of this county, pianist Paul Drayton, who lent a beautiful lightness of touch to the likes of Changes, Life on Mars and Oh! You Pretty Things, banishing all memories of Rick Wakeman’s original recordings.”
Lee Trewhela – reviewing a David Bowie evening in The Cornish Guardian


 

The Hanging Oak, a new opera composed for Duchy Opera by its musical director Paul Drayton was premiered last week in All Saints Church, Falmouth.  It was a triumph!  The opera tells of an ambitious cleric who, by hastening the death of his elderly predecessor, becomes the cathedral archdeacon, with his sister Constance as his housekeeper.  They give the maid Jane the sack, but she knows his crime and blackmails him.  Guilt-stricken and haunted by his mysterious cathedral stall, with images of a snarling cat and skeleton, made from an oak used for hanging, he becomes unhinged and dies.  The original ghost-story is M. R. James’s, but Paul Drayton has embellished it in many inventive ways, particularly in creating Martin, a carpenter, as husband to Jane.  Thus an arrogant, upper-class couple in the cleric’s study are contrasted with an impoverished, servile pair in the carpenter’s work-shop.  Fortunes are reversed: the venerable (!) archdeacon gets his deserts; the young couple are happy as Jane is pregnant: birth replaces death.
The final gestures of the deranged priest (I am pursued by an avenging demon) are dramatically echoed by huge shadows.  We may be in Trollope’s “Barchester”, but the music is akin to Benjamin Britten with an orchestral score – seven instruments – that emphasises the mood of the protagonists.  Into the modern musical mode Paul Drayton very effectively wove the traditional choral music sung, unseen, by the Duchy Opera chorus (“cathedral choir”).  The words in the canticles and psalm (…depart in peace ….let another take his office) added a counterpoint to the archdeacon’s emotional journey.
Eric Dare in The West Briton – review of the opera The Hanging Oak