Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012) was a pupil at Leighton Park School, the Quaker school in Reading, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Howard Ferguson, Lennox Berkeley and Cornelius Cardew. During this time, he attended some of the Darmstadt summer courses in 1955, where he was exposed to serialism. He later spent two years in Paris as a student of the prominent serialist Pierre Boulez between 1957 and 1959. An English composer renowned for his film scores and his jazz performance as much as for his challenging concert works. He was based in New York City from 1979 until his death in 2012.
Bennett taught at the Royal Academy of Music between 1963 and 1965, at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, United States from 1970 to 1971, and was later International Chair of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music between 1994 and the year 2000.
His scores for Far from the Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974), each earned him Academy Award nominations, with Murder on the Orient Express gaining a BAFTA award. He has received three Ivor Novello Awards.
He was appointed CBE in 1977, and was knighted for services to music in 1998.
A Colloquy With God is the last work that Sir Richard Rodney Bennett composed and is the setting of a poem by Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1608). It was commissioned by the Swaledale Festival. Composed for choir and piano with optional double bass and soprano saxophone it had its world premiere on the 26 May 2012, performed by the Royal Holloway Choir and Acoustic Triangle in Richmond, North Yorkshire.