Humphrey Clucas was born in 1941 and read English at King's College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar and composed the set of Responses for which he is probably best known. After 27 years teaching English he was appointed a Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey. He retired in 1999 although he continues to write music.
A published poet and a self-taught composer, Humphrey has produced a steady flow of choral and organ works as well as music for choir and orchestra, a Housman song-cycle for counter-tenor, a clarinet sonata and several works for double bass. Humphrey also serves as voluntary organist at his village church in Devon and has written several collections of simple 'Coldridge' pieces for his own use which have been gratefully and enthusiastically received by amateur organists all over the country.
Humphrey's choral music is characterized by a rare precision and his great gift is to use deceptively simple material to weave into textures of extraordinary beauty and intensity. His little carol In the dark-time is one of the biggest-selling titles in the animus catalogue and is typical of the composer's economic style: its simplicity is heart-rending. His most recent carol, Mary's Lullaby, is equally simple and yet leaves an indelible impression on performers and listeners alike.
His organ music ranges from the superbly-crafted miniatures for manuals only of the Coldridge Organ books to the mighty Symphony so brilliantly recorded by Robert Crowley on the organ of Canterbury Cathedral (Lammas CD LAMM 183D).
If you would like to explore Humphrey's organ music more fully, you should listen to Sounds of Humphrey Clucas, also recorded by Robert Crowley, on the organ of St. Albans Abbey (Lammas CD LAMM 151D).
A good introduction to Humphrey's choral music can be found on Crucifixus (Upbeat Classics URCD142) which features benchmark performances of the Requiem, Stabat Mater, Shakespeare Songs and other works, by Laudibus, conducted by Michael Brewer.
A short anthology of 'Cathedral Poems' by Humphrey Clucas entitled Scatter the Darkness has recently been published.
It is available from:
The Lewin Press
19 Norman Road
If you really want to get to know Humphrey Clucas then you need his autobiography Taking Stock - The first sixty years.
This is racy, well-written and un-put-downable! Again, it is available from The Lewin Press, at the address above, price £9.99.
Humphrey has just (October 2009) written his first novel Murder in the Abbey which is published, along with eleven poems by Anne Middleton in Royal and Peculiar. Set in Westminster Abbey, Peter Malcolm, the Chaplain is called on to investigate a missing Purcell manuscript, a stolen camera and the murder of a visiting soloist.
This is a real page-turner and a wonderful Christmas present. It is available from The Lewin Press, at the address above, price £7.50.