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Beyond Joybox

2013 has been an extraordinary year for John McCabe – one of major ill-health, and yet also of triumphs over this.

Joybox, the orchestral work written for the Proms 2013 entirely while undergoing traumatic medical treatment for a brain tumour, was a great success (one critic described it as the ‘hit’ of the season) and interest in it has been shown by a number of other orchestras. McCabe managed to attend the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, and he also attended a large part of the 2013 Presteigne Festival in August. In early September he was able to go to the last of the delightful Cratfield summer concerts series (near Aldeburgh), where the Carducci Quartet played a wonderful concert, including his Quartet No 7, Summer Eves.

Sadly the physical effects of the summer outings caused his health to crash entirely in September, and he was put back on a heavy dose of steroids. However, in typical McCabe fashion he was back on his feet – at least to some extent – within a week, though still tiring very quickly. He is also composing again, writing a Trumpet Sonata for Simon Desbruslais for 2014.

Two outstanding recordings are in the wings waiting to come out. One is an amazing performance by Simon Desbruslais of Primavera, the Trumpet Concerto written especially for him, with the Orchestra of the Swan conducted by Kenneth Woods. The other is of the previously mentioned Quartet Summer Eves, with the Carducci Quartet, who have recorded a performance which has been described as ‘stunning’. Hopefully this CD will be released (Signum) before the end of 2013.

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