CHRISTOPhER RATHBONE AND HIS MUSIC. Rathbone was born in 1947 in Selsdon, Surrey. He began composing as a schoolboy at Whitgift School, South Croydon, and went up to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge to read music, with a choral exhibition, in 1966. Under Peter le Huray's direction he took a BA and then a Mus B. in organ playing and composition, with tuition in Composition from Alan Ridout. His organ piece 'October Music' was part of his Mus B. composition portfolio and was later recorded for Wealden Records. He added an FRCO to his qualifications while at Cambridge; in 1969 he married, producing an anthem 'A New Commandment' to be sung at the wedding. The following year he became the first Assistant Organist at Carlisle Cathedral. In 1973 he moved south and took up the post of Organist and Assistant Director of Music at Marlborough College in Wiltshire. Many opportunities to write and perform music for plays and musicals culminated in the composition of a full-scale opera 'Pierce's Cave'. The opera to a poetic libretto by Robert Avery was later followed by a cantata and a song cycle to words by the same hand. The jaunty Marlborough Mass (1982) was regularly performed, and appeared frequently on the music list at Meanwood and at Ilkley. The song cycle, or cantata, 'The Turning Year', follows the progression of the seasons round the year, setting a selection of sixteen poems from various periods. It was composed in 1983, but was never performed complete until May 2001, when three distinguished artists from Opera North gave the work for the Yorkshire Composers Festival, before recording the cycle for Amphion. In 1991 the cello sonata (included in the first Amphion CD of Rathbone's music) led to a flurry of chamber music, including a violin sonata, two trios and a clarinet quintet, many later recorded by 'Daniel's Beard' for Meridian. During the last seven years at Marlborough, Christopher took much delight and satisfaction from directing the performances of Swindon Opera, including two Verdi's, The Magic Flute, Carmen and the Bartered Bride, but in 1996 he finally left Wiltshire and moved to north Leeds, becoming a busy freelance composer, organist and choir director. He composed music for the various choirs with which he worked (anthems and a second Mass setting for Meanwood Parish Church, where he was director of music; carols and arrangements of spirituals for Morley Music Society; and a Requiem for the Bradford Chorale). This was later recorded by the St Peter's Singers in Leeds. He was commissioned to write music for other choirs (a cantata 'The World's a Stage' for the Diamond Jubilee of Otley Choral Societyand a motet for the Bolton Chamber Choir.) He has composed much music for organ, as well as piano and piano duet. His frequent recitals at Leeds Parish Church included a month-long series of Friday lunchtime recitals in 2000 which included all his organ music up to that time; he also played weekly Saturday morning recitals at Meanwood. He was delighted by the enlargement of the organ at Meanwood, which became a comprehensive three manual organ of 34 stops. His organ music was taken up by Simon Lindley, who performed 'The Stations of the Cross' and 'Scenes and Antiphons' at Leeds Town Hall, and gave the premiere of the 'Meanwood Suite' at the reopening recital on the organ at Meanwood in October 2001. The 'Stations', the Sonatina and three sets of hymn tune variations have allbeen recorded on the three Amphion discs.
In 2007 Christopher moved to Sussex to be organist of St Peter's Bexhill (where the St Peter's Service of Evening Canticles was written). He moved back to Yorkshire in 2009, to his present appointment as Director of Music at St Margaret's Church, Ilkley, where he runs a choir which sings a wide repertoire of music to complement the beautiful Anglo-Catholic liturgy at the weekly High Mass and Choral Evensong as well as extra festal services. He has written much new music for the choir including a setting of 'O Salutaris Hostia' for Benediction, the St Margaret's Service for Evensong and the unaccompanied Missa Brevis Santa Margherita. He gives monthly recitals on the magnificent 4-manual Hill organ (1901), which are routinely recorded by Stewart Smith (Clematis Records).
Since 2013 his wife has been the Vicar of Batheaston in Somerset, so Christopher regularly travels between Ilkley and Bath, mainly on the Cross Country line (Leeds - Bristol), between a flat in St John's (across the road from St Margaret's) and a vicarage in Batheaston Northend. He has given recitals at St John's Batheaston and St John's Bathwick, as well as many local recitals in Yorkshire (Bradford Cathedral, Bolton Priory, Mill Hill chapel in Leeds and Halifax Minster in 2016.) Further afield he has given recitals in recent years at St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh, the Bodenkerk in Kampen and Het Steiger (the Dominican church) in Rotterdam (both Netherlands) and the Predigerkirche in Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany. As well as the regular services at St Margaret's Christopher is often called upon to accompany the local choral societies (Cantores Olicanae, Ilkley Choral and Otley Choral Society) in such demanding orchestral scores as Haydn's 'Creation' and Nelson Mass, Elgar's Spirit of England, Rutter's Magnificat etc.