Tuesday, 26 April 2016



I have added several of my pieces to the Soundcloud site, they are as heard on the Sibelius software. It would be great to hear any constructive comments you have.
About Alan

Alan Parsons was born in 1931 in Watford, Hertfordshire, but has lived most of his life in Essex. He grew up in Brentwood, moved to Walton-on-the-Naze in 1967 and to Colchester in 1979. After school and National Service in the RAF he took a bachelor’s degree in music at Durham University and a post-graduate diploma in Education at Goldsmiths’ College, London. After teaching in various secondary schools Alan returned to Durham in the early 1970s to take a Master’s degree, working with David Lumsdaine, specialising in twentieth century Composition and Analysis.

Having done some part-time lecturing for the Extra-Mural Department of London University Alan became a freelance teacher and musician on moving to Colchester.  He continued to lecture on the Diploma course when the Extra-Mural Department was taken over by Birkbeck College. For a time Alan taught composition at Woodbridge School in Suffolk as well as teaching privately. A highlight of his week at this time was the four hours spent every Saturday morning at the Junior Music School at Colchester Institute where he remained for seventeen years. On retiring in 1996 Alan became a governor at Kendall School.  

Composition has been a major interest since Alan was a teenager, and among his teachers, apart from David Lumsdaine, were Anthony Milner, Iain Hamilton and Justin Connolly. During the 1980s he made a detailed study of Stockhausen’s music, registering as a PhD student at Goldsmith’s College, London and working mainly with Hugh Davis.

In 1984, together with fellow composer Eric Hudes (see below), Alan set up the composers’ co-operative Colchester New Music. CNM gave regular concerts of mainly new music in collaboration with Essex University, Colchester Sixth Form College and Long Melford Music Society. The most lasting collaboration was with Colchester Institute. Their annual New Music Days featured such internationally well known groups as Gemini, the Composers’ Ensemble and New Noise. In the 1990s CNM formed its own performing group, the Since Eric’ death in 2007 Alan has co-operated with locally based composers Alan Bullard, Julia Usher and Stuart Russell. Stuart took over as Director of CNM when Alan stepped down in 2013 and has since been superseded by Julia Usher.

Most of Alan’s recent music consists of chamber music, some with voice, composed for ensembles performing at CNM concerts, but he has also written music for students and amateurs. His large-scale works include 4 Symphonies and 2 Violin Concertos, the first of which has been performed, in a version for violin and piano, by Beth Spendlove and Timothy Carey. There is also a 3-act chamber opera based on the biblical character Hosea.

Alan’s interest in Theology also goes back to his early years. His first experience of the Anglican Church was at St Thomas’s in Brentwood, where he was a choir boy and acquired a love of organ playing. He attended St Thomas’ C of E Primary School before moving to a selective school in Chelmsford.

On moving to Colchester Alan joined the congregation at the medieval church of St Leonard’s-at-the-Hythe, moving to St Stephen’s church in the New Town district of Colchester when St Leonard’s became a redundant church in 1983. Like St Thomas’s in Brentwood, St Leonard’s was a very high church, and until John and Christine Shillaker came to St Stephen’s in the late 1980s Alan assumed that all Anglican churches were like this! Alan’s understanding of what church life could be was taken further when Ian Hilton was appointed to St Stephen’s in the early 2000s, and several stages further still when Sister Nikki Foster-Kruczek of the Church Army was appointed to Source a Church of England community which operates in the Hythe area of Colchester. However, both theologically and politically Alan remains an Unrepentant Liberal. Alan became a Reader (Lay Preacher) in 1988, having previously taken the Cambridge Diploma in Religious Studies at the (then) Suffolk College in Ipswich. After becoming ‘emeritus’ in 2001 Alan continued as a church musician at St Stephen’s until he stepped down for health reasons in January 2014. As well as playing for services Alan organised concerts and played, often piano duets with a friend, Caroline Hall, at church entertainments. Latterly Alan organised the music for the annual Heritage Day at St Leonard’s and in 2013 became Secretary, later Chair of a newly formed Friends of St Leonard’s.

Alan married Doreen in 1956. They had two children, Brigitte and Clive, and Brigitte later had two girls Kerry and Sarah. Alan has been fortunate in that Clive and Brigitte have lived fairly near to Colchester, Clive in Witham, Brigitte at Walton-on-the-Naze. Sadly Doreen died at the age of fifty in 1985 after a long illness.

Outside music and the Church Alan’s enthusiasms are for long country walks,  railways and cricket. Alan’s idea of a holiday is to go chasing steam railways anywhere from the North Yorkshire Moors to Devon. He is happiest when listening to a radio commentary on a cricket test match while fiddling with his beloved model railway.   

AP April 2016