Choral music has always been part of Simon’s life, first as a treble, then a tenor, both in his local parish church choir and at school. The Beattie Cup for Musicianship at Aylesbury Grammar School is named after him.

Whilst at university, Simon won a choral scholarship to sing in Exeter Cathedral Choir, and he still sings with a variety of groups. His choral compositions have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some of his sacred music is available from Encore Publications.

Advent Calendar

Poem by Rowan Williams and music by Simon Beattie

Simon’s setting of Rowan Williams’s poem ‘Advent Calendar’ was broadcast by the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, on BBC Radio 3 in 2008. The late John McCabe, whose own The last and greatest Herald was premiered during the same broadcast, wrote: ‘I simply found it gripping and moving. I felt your grasp of harmony and harmonic progression was particularly impressive. And the response to the excellent poem was vivid.’

The World to me

Poem by Carol Ann Duffy and music by Simon Beattie

I had wanted to set this poem for a long time. I first came across it when Carol Ann Duffy was made Poet Laureate, in 2009. I had never read any of her work when her appointment was announced, and was pleasantly surprised when I found, on a transatlantic flight, that Juliet Stevenson reading her collection Rapture was among British Airways’ inflight entertainment choices. I was flying to the US for a week, away from home, and the poem resonated—and stayed—with me.

To Our Lady

Poem by Rowan Williams and music by Simon Beattie

Another setting of Rowan Williams' poetry. I was lucky enough to meet him at a concert in December 2019, at which my setting of his 'Advent Calendar' was performed, and was delighted when he said it was 'a wonderful setting' and, of all the settings of the words, the closest in feeling to his original poem. I asked if I could set others of his poems, and he kindly agreed. 'To Our Lady' is the result. The poem it sets, 'Our Lady of Vladimir', describes the famous 12th-century Russian icon.

With one’s thoughts

Poem by Anna Akhmatova, translated and set to music by Simon Beattie

Anna Akhmatova’s poem, written in 1912, and published two years later in her second collection, Chetki (‘Rosary’), was commended to me a few years ago by a friend who had read it in another – unrhymed – English translation. Curious, I sought out the Russian original which, as I thought, does rhyme, and so I set about producing a rhymed English version, partly as a challenge to myself, and partly as a gift for my friend. Then the pandemic arrived, and the world changed. I wanted to write a piece in response to being in lockdown, and Akhmatova’s words, which focus on being alone with one’s thoughts, seemed to fit.

To listen to other choral music written by Simon please go to his SoundCloud page here.