Dr John Milford Rutter CBE (born 24 September 1945 ) is a British composer, conductor, editor, arranger and record producer, mainly of choral music.
Born in London, he was educated at Highgate School, where a fellow pupil was John Tavener. He then read music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the choir. He then became director of music at Clare College from 1975 to 1979 and led the choir to international prominence.
In 1974, Rutter visited the United States at the invitation of choral musician Melvin (Mel) Olson and conducted the premiere of his cantata "Gloria" in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Witherspoon Hall of Joslyn Art Museum. The composition, commissioned by Olson's Voices of Mel Olson chorale, has become a much-performed favorite over the years. (In the same concert, the Young People's Choir of the Midlands performed Rutter's "Five Childhood Lyrics" in its premiere US performance.)
In 1981 Rutter founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He still lives near Cambridge in the nearby village of Duxford, but frequently conducts other choirs and orchestras around the world.
In 1980 he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music. In 2008, he was made an honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple whilst playing a significant role in the 2008 Temple Festival.
From 1985 to 1992 he suffered severely from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME; or Chronic fatigue syndrome), which restricted his output; after 1985 he stopped writing music to commission as he was unable to guarantee meeting deadlines. 
He also works as an arranger and editor, most notably (in his youth) of the extraordinarily successful Carols for Choirs anthology series in collaboration with Sir David Willcocks.
He was inducted as a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity in 1985.
Rutter's compositions are chiefly choral, and include Christmas carols, anthems and extended works such as a Gloria, a Magnificat, and a Requiem.
Rutter's world premiere of his Requiem Mass, as well as his authoritative version of Faure's, was with the Fox Valley Festival Chorus, in Illinois, during his tenure with Cambridge. In 2002 his setting of Psalm 150, commissioned for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, was performed at the thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral, London. He has also written an opera for young people called Bang!
He is published principally by Oxford University Press in England and by Hinshaw Music in the US. He has been recorded by many choirs, but conducts his own recordings principally on his Collegium label.
Rutter's music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century, as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes, in addition to the standard piano/organ accompaniment, has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment as well, utilizing various different instrumentations, such as strings only, strings and woodwinds, or full orchestra with brass and percussion, among others.
Despite composing and conducting much religious music, Rutter told the US television program 60 Minutes in 2003 that he was not particularly a religious man, yet still deeply spiritual and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers. The 60 Minutes program, which aired a week before Christmas 2003, focused on Rutter's popularity with choral groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world, and on his composition, Mass of the Children, composed after the sudden death of his son Christopher while a student at Clare College, Cambridge (where Rutter himself had studied).
In a 2009 interview, Rutter discussed his understanding of "genius" and its unique ability to transform lives - whether that genius is communicated in the form of music or other mediums. He likened the purity of music to that of mathematics, and even connected the two with a reference to the discoveries of the early Greeks that frequencies of hamonic pitches are related by whole-number ratios.
Rutter's music is very popular, particularly in the USA (NBC's Today Show called him "the world's greatest living composer and conductor of choral music") . In the UK it receives a more mixed reception: while some from the Anglican choral tradition do not regard him as a sufficiently "serious" composer, others hold him in high regard, as illustrated by the following quotation from a review in the London Evening Standard (25/09/2005): "For the infectiousness of his melodic invention and consummate craftsmanship, Rutter has few peers."
In terms of performances, publications and recordings he is probably the most successful choral composer of his generation. For example, his Shepherd's Pipe Carol, written while he was still at school, is reputed to have sold well over one million copies in sheet music alone.
List of compositions and arrangements
Most of these works are arrangements.
A Gaelic Blessing for SATB and organ or guitar, commissioned in 1978 by the Chancel Choir of the First United Methodist Church, Omaha, Nebraska, in honor of minister of music Mel Olson.
Birthday Madrigals for SATB, commissioned in 1995 by Brian Kay and the Cheltenham Bach Choir to celebrate the 75th birthday of George Shearing
Carols for Choirs 2 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
Carols for Choirs 3 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
Carols for Choirs 4 ed. Willcocks and Rutter
Dancing Day for SSA with harp or piano
- Eight Childhood Lyrics
Eight Christmas Carols, Set 1 for mixed voices and piano
Eight Christmas Carols, Set 2 for mixed voices and piano
100 Carols for Choirs ed. Willcocks and Rutter
Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1 for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 2 for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
Child in a manger from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and keyboard or orchestra
Christmas Night for SATB and keyboard or strings
Come Down, O Love Divine for double mixed choir and organ
Cradle Song from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB unaccompanied
Donkey Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra
Flemish Carol from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or orchestra
For the Beauty of the Earth for SATB, SA, or TTBB, and piano
Here We Come a-wassailing from Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1
The Holly and the Ivy for SATB and piano or orchestra
Gloria for mixed voices with brass, percussion and organ or orchestra.
I Saw Three Ships from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or orchestra
Jesus Child for SATB and piano or orchestra
Jesus Child for unison and piano
Joy to the world! for SATB and keyboard or orchestra (2 trumpets, timpani and strings)
King Jesus hath a garden from Carols for Choirs 3 for SATB and piano or flute, harp and strings
Love came down at Christmas for SATB and keyboard or strings
Mary's Lullaby for SATB and piano or orchestra
Nativity Carol for SATB and keyboard or strings
O come, O come, Emmanuel from Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1 for SATB and keyboard or orchestra.
Quem pastores laudavere for SATB unaccompanied
Quittez, pasteurs for SATB unaccompanied
Shepherd's Pipe Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra or for SSAA and piano or orchestra
Sing we to this merry company for SATB and orchestra or organ
Star Carol for SATB and piano or orchestra or brass with optional children's voices or for unison and piano
There is a flower (original composition) for SATB unaccompanied
Three Carols from Carols for Choirs 4 for SS and SSA unaccompanied
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day from the cycle of carols, Dancing Day for SSA and harp or piano
The Twelve Days of Christmas (song) from Carols for Choirs 2 for SATB and piano or orchestra
Winchester Te Deum For SATB and Piano or Organ
Wexford Carol for SATB unaccompanied
What sweeter music for SATB and organ or strings
- Gaelic Blessing.
- The Lord Bless You and Keep You
Anthems and other compositions
Most of these works are original compositions, including new musical settings of standard texts, whilst others are arrangements of traditional hymns.
- All Creatures of our God and King
- All Things Bright and Beautiful
- As the bridegroom to his chosen
- Be Thou my vision
- The Beatles Concerto
- Behold, the Tabernacle of God
- Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
- Children's chorus, opt.
- A Choral Amen
- A Choral Fanfare
- Christ the Lord is risen again
- A Clare Benediction
- Creation's Alleluia
- Distant Land
- The Falcon
- Fancies (part of "Eight Childhood Lyrics")
- Feel the Spirit
- For the beauty of the Earth
- Go forth into the world in peace
- God be in my head
- Gregorian Chant
- Heavenly Aeroplane
- How Firm A Foundation
- Hymn to the Creator of Light
- I believe in springtime
- I will lift up mine eyes
- I will sing with the spirit
- I will worship the Lord
- I Wonder as I Wander
- Let us go in peace
- Look at the World
- The Lord bless you and keep you
- The Lord is my light and my salvation
- The Lord is my Shepherd: SATB & organ
- Loving shepherd of thy sheep
Mass of the Children (Original composition)
- Now thank we all our God
- O be joyful in the Lord
- O clap your hands
- Open Thou Mine Eyes
- The Peace of God
- Pie Jesu
- Praise the Lord, O my soul
- Praise ye the Lord
- A Prayer of Saint Patrick
Requiem (Original composition)
- Suite Antique
- Te Deum
- Thanksgiving Prayer
- Thy Perfect love
- Toccata in 7
- When Icicles Hang
- When the Saints Go Marching In
- Wings of the Morning