Alexander L’Estrange composer of Zimbe!
Alexander L’Estrange (b. 1974) is one of Britain’s most popular living choral composers and arrangers. His compositional voice is characterised by the distinctive combination of the British choral tradition and jazz, reflecting the composer’s own musical background as a chorister at New College, Oxford, and a professional jazz pianist and bass player. From the large-scale choral works which draw together singers of all ages to the more intimate sacred anthems and part-songs, it is this combination which has contributed to the universal appeal of his music. Add to that mix a First Class Honours degree in Music from Oxford University and his charismatic choral leadership and it’s no wonder that he’s been dubbed “the ideal 21st century musician” (Howard Goodall CBE).
L’Estrange’s flagship work is Zimbe! Come sing the songs of Africa!, an ingenious 40-minute fusion of African song and jazz which received 150 performances worldwide within its first five years, something of a record for a new choral piece. Zimbe!’s success has spawned a series of commissions in a similar vein including Ahoy! Sing for the Mary Rose and Song Cycle: vive la vélorution!. Each features a winning combination of SATB choir, unison children’s choir and professional jazz quintet.
‘Zimbe! is our generation’s answer to ‘St Nicolas’ or ‘Noye’s Fludde’.’ James Webb, conductor
His song output includes Love’s Philosophy, three stunning settings of poems by Shelley, Tennyson and Byron currently on the ABRSM Singing Syllabus, and a number of jazz songs, recorded by his wife, former Swingle Singer and lyricist Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, on the album New things to say. L’Estrange’s stunning sacred choral music has been recorded by the award-winning chamber choir Tenebrae on the album On Eagles’ Wings (SIGNUM Classics).
‘On Eagles’ Wings is an album I will return to again and again; I recommend it warmly to all lovers of choral music.’ John Rutter
As a consummate arranger, L’Estrange is highly sought after by the world’s leading a cappella groups including The Swingle Singers, Amarcord, Voces 8 and The King’s Singers, for whom he arranged and produced the Great American Songbook CD to great acclaim. He is Consultant Editor for Faber Music’s Choral Basics series for which he has written hundreds of arrangements of pop, show, folk, jazz, classical, commercial and original songs. Television work includes the theme tune for the CBeebies programme Magic Hands and a large body of work for the market-leading television production music company Audio Network Ltd.
L’Estrange is passionate about music education and in particular the importance of singing in schools and the wider community. Working with organisations such as United Learning he has led thousands of children in performances of his music at venues such as London’s Lyceum Theatre and the Royal Albert Hall. He has contributed many original pieces and arrangements to the educational initiative Sing Up and, as a jazz examiner and trainer for the ABRSM, heads jazz sessions for classical examiners. With Joanna , he co-devised the popular choral workshop You can sing … but can you swing?! (with an accompanying set of jazz warm-ups, published by Faber Music) which gives classical singers the tools and confidence to give convincing and authentic performances of non-classical music. He regularly presents workshops and adjudicates throughout the UK with the mixture of energy, fun and consummate musicianship that has become synonymous with his name.
“If you had to create from scratch the perfect 21st century musician, Alexander L’Estrange would be your template.” Howard Goodall, composer and broadcaster
“Alexander L’Estrange is a great and innovative arranger, surely one of the best we have around. All of his arrangements are worth singing.” Music Teacher Magazine