This seemed such a great idea, and it was, indeed, great fun! It was also really hard. I don’t know about others, but my instinct was to start sifting through CDs to pick out my favourite tracks, but really, it would never be possible to do that in an hour of music (and yes, apologies…mine is an hour and nine minutes). So, the intention of my mixtape is to say something about me and the music I play, enjoy and listen to.

I guess that my first love has, and probably always will be, choral music. I was lucky enough to go to a secondary school which was very musical. We had a SATB school choir, often with over 100 members (though I think having a pass to be first in the dinner queue was perhaps more of a draw for some!). My first selection is John Joubert’s O Lorde, the Maker of Al Thing which was one of the first pieces we sang in that choir. Some might say it’s a bit of a baptism of fire, but once sung, I was hooked. This particular recording with the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Spicer, is special to me as I was present at the pre-recording performance a couple of years ago.

John Rutter’s music has been much maligned over the years, often unfairly. Yes, we might argue it’s a formulaic, but my goodness, it works and it’s popular. I can’t help but feel that an awful lot of the disdain for his music comes purely from jealousy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it all, and I wouldn’t want to listen to it all the time, but it’s played a big part in my life. His setting of All Things Bright and Beautiful was one of my early introductions to it.

I’ve included Douglas Guest’s For the Fallen as an example of what I might call exquisite choral writing. To me, this short anthem captures everything about what can be achieved with human voices in harmony.

I’m afraid to say, I’ve never had much time for music from the classical period, and I’m only just coming around to baroque, but I have always found enjoyment in early music, whether that be plainsong, or works such as Josquin’s Missa pange lingua.

I couldn’t possibly create this list without including something by Herbert Howells. Howells’ music is perhaps the music which speaks to me most closely and spiritually. I don’t think this is something we can explain, but I’m sure we’ve all come across pieces and composers like that. There is something about the harmony and rhythm of Howells’ writing which tugs at me deep inside. Even in this short extract, the Nunc Dimittis from his Collegium Regale setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, there is so much to explore and enjoy.

Gavin Bryars’ work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet was perhaps my first introduction to what then, we’d have called ‘contemporary music’. There is something quite magical in this work which makes for an almost hypnotic listening experience.

If you thought I was all about so-called ‘classical music’, you’d be wrong. I have always been interested in music for television, and in particular, ‘library music’. Keith Mansfield’s Superstar on the KPM LP Lifeforce is a fabulous example – pure 1970s. Over the years, I have collected hundreds of library LPs and CDs, all sadly being disposed of around the country as broadcasters go digital.

Then there’s pop music too…although my pop music knowledge probably ceases around 1989. Spandau Ballet’s True has always had a hold on my ears, and my only explanation is that it came out at about the exact time I was born. Spooky?!

I’ve always enjoyed musicals (apparently, we’re to call it ‘musical theatre’ now), but no surprise that I’m a fan of the musicals which no one really knows and didn’t catch on. So, I doubt anyone’s heard of The Goodbye Girl!

Of course, the precursor to musicals was operetta, and I couldn’t resist but to include some G&S. No surprises that it’s from Princess Ida which although my favourite, is not one of the popular ones! (Why not?! It’s very topical…)

Then there’s folk music too: here’s an Irish folk-song The Butcher Boy, but there are so many others I could have included. It’s perhaps the folk idiom which influences my choice of orchestral music. Here I’ve included an extract from Stanford’s Symphony No. 6 and Armstrong Gibbs’ Symphony No. 1. These, in my view are two totally underrated composers, and I guess, that’s always been part of me too…I like the things no one else has discovered!

Finally, just like Howells, I couldn’t leave this without including some Vaughan Williams, and it’s not one of the popular pieces, but instead, the first movement from his Symphony No. 6.

David Barton is a piano, flute and voice teacher, composer, mentor and writer based in Lichfield



In compiling this mixtape I’ve tried to include tracks that represent both the decades of my life and musical tastes.  Unfortunately Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up didn’t make the final edit although I was obsessed with this song towards the end of my first decade on this planet.  My rather rebellious teenage years are best represented by Bowie’s Heroes – like all teenagers I really did think this was written just for me and my friends.  My twenties coincided with the rise in ‘Britpop’ and after much deliberation I narrowed my choice down to Oasis’s Wonderwall – but the Directors’ Cut includes other greats from this era including Pulp’s Common People which narrowly lost out to the Gallagher brothers.

In my thirties I was travelling the world as part of my Corporate career, and spent many happy and insane weekends in New York – notionally for work but really to go dancing with my like-minded colleagues.  Lady Gaga‘s Telephone best sums up this decade for me, or what I can remember of it.

I’ve always loved some of the great musicals.  Whilst the Director’s Cut contains many of my favourite numbers, my selected track is Liza Minelli singing Cabaret – which, along with the Bernstein, will be played at my funeral.

An interest in my Jewish heritage has also led me to include some music with a Jewish theme.  John William’s Schindler’s List theme needs little introduction other than to say it is the best soundtrack to a film ever.  I’ve also included a classic Klezmer track which is typically haunting and uplifting at the same time, and the beautiful Shalom Aleichem which almost makes me want to light the candles and prepare a Sabbath supper.

My latest interest (or fad) is jazz and I am currently studying jazz piano: which is a totally different experience from classical piano.  Thelonious Monk‘s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a great example of what I’ll never be able to do in a thousand years.

Choosing music to represent my classical (in the broadest sense of the word) taste proved near impossible.  Wagner’s Liebestod missed the cut despite being the sexiest piece of music ever written (other than Tom Jones‘ Sex Bomb).  Instead,  I settled on music with a religious theme:  Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms no.2, the Hebrew setting to The Lord is my Shepherd, contains the most beautiful countertenor aria to which I expect people to weep copiously when it is played at my funeral (and then party to Cabaret).  To conclude my mixtape, the final Aria in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, “Mache dich, mein Herze, rein” (Make Yourself Pure, My Heart).  I’m sure there must be some way in which this sums up the entire collection but I’ll leave that to the listener to discern……

Here’s the 45 minute version:

And the Director’s Cut:

Rebecca Singerman-Knight is a piano teacher based in Teddington, SW London