Tony Biggin, a British Friend, is a composer of classical music. A long-time teacher, he has maintained a commitment to music education and has created several works for youth music theater. A concern for peace and justice has also sparked several of his pieces. The Gates of Greenham, considered to be his major work, was created with Alec Davison, his long-time collaborator, as the librettist. He has composed several other pieces, including The Cry of the Earth; Child of Light; Requiem; The Peace Pudding Songbook; and Quest of the Golden Eye. The Living Spirit is an exploration in song of Meeting for Worship. The Fire and the Hammer describes the early life of George Fox. Biggin has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and the Manchester Camerata. For several years he was musical director of Cantor Ltd., a recording studio and music lab. He has been Head of Music at Edge Hill University and was Director of the East Sussex Music Service.
The Gates of Greenham is an oratorio for orchestra, chorus, soloists and narrators. The work is dedicated to the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common, the American cruise missile base in Berkshire, England, a camp in which many Quaker women participated. The music is rendered in seventeen movements, from “Mystery” to “We Have Won Through”. Its text includes conversations, article extracts, Quaker writings and Biblical quotes. A brief period of silence follows the conclusion of the piece. Premiered in 1985 at the Royal Festival Hall, it featured the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the Quaker Festival Chorus; soloists Eiddwen Harrhy, Margaret Cable, Wynford Evans and Henry Herford; and narrators Barry Wilsher and Sheila Hancock. (Wilsher and Hancock are Friends). The largest gathering of British Quakers in history attended the concert. It was subsequently performed in Sheffield, Manchester, Leiden and Utrecht, the latter performance broadcast on Dutch television. In 1986 a recording was made by Sain Records. The record included instructions about how to make Sadako’s paper crane for peace.
The Gates of Greenham, with which I am most familiar, is a rousing and moving work. A fitting piece of art for the magnificient Women’s Peace Camp. Highly recommended.
Below are links to a Gates of Greenham excerpt; a Women’s Peace Camp article; and a Women’s Peace Camp video.
The Gates of Greenham: http://www.tonybiggin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Cam-copyright-copy-1.mp3
Women’s Peace Camp article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenham_Common_Women’s_Peace_Camp
The Women’s Peace Camp video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMdrXW72jaw