Wednesday, 17 October 2018

14th October 2018 Trinity 20

Ave Verum Corpus   Edward Elgar

Ave verum corpus  is traditionally a communion hymn written by Pope Innocent VI, set to music by many composers over the years.

Edward Elgar (1857-1937) was born in a village close to Worcester.  His father had a music shop in Worcester and tuned pianos. Elgar was mostly self taught.  His influence grew in the 1880's and 1890's  despite his being a Roman Catholic in a largely Anglican community. In 1889 he married one of his pupils, Caroline Alice Roberts, against opposition from her family. She played a major part in his career development.

Elgar is one of the great English composers, who has left a legacy of great orchestral and choral works.
image of a middle aged man in late Victorian clothes, viewed in right semi-profile. He has a prominent Roman nose and large moustache
from Wikipedia

Sunday, 7 October 2018

7th October 2018 Harvest Thanksgiving

The anthem was "The Lord Hath Been Mindful Of Us" from "ascribe Unto The Lord" by Samuel Wesley

This is the final part of Ascribe unto the Lord which is a setting of Psalm 96, verses 7-10, 2, 3 and 5 and Psalm 115, verses 4-8, 3,and 12-15.

The LORD hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.
The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children.
Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth.

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810 - 1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley and Sarah Souter, and grandchild of Charles Wesley. He was a choirboy in the Chapel Royal and then embarked on a musical career.  He was appointed organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1832 and then married the Dean's sister.  He moved to Exeter Cathedral in 1835 and 1842, Leeds Parish Church, 1849 - Winchester Cathedral, 1865 - Gloucester Cathedral.  In 1839 he achieved his Bachelor of Music and Doctorate of Music from Oxford.  He became Professor of Organ in the Royal Academy of Music in 1850.

His work was almost exclusively for the Anglican church.  With Father Willis he is jointly credited with the invention of the concave and radiating pedal board for organ which has now become the standard internationally.

Saturday 6th October 2018 Chichester Cathedral, Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer

The choir were asked to sing at his annual service to celebrate the Book of Common Prayer by William Tyndale, translator, martyr, 1536.

The choir sang parts of the Communion Service in F major by Herbert Sumsion, the Benedictus, Sanctus, Agneus Dei and the Gloria.

Herbert Sumsion (14.1.1899 - 11.8.1995) was an English musician and organist at Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 -1967. As a major figure is the Three Choirs festival he had links with the major 20th century composers.  Although known primarily as a cathedral organist, his work was far ranging.

The Anthem was "Lead me Lord" from "Praise the Lord, O my soul" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley

"Praise the Lord, O my Soul" was written in 1861 and contains the short anthem "Lead me Lord". It was composed when Wesley was organist at Winchester College and Cathedral. "Lead me Lord " is the final section of the work, and has a wondrous simplicity with 2 short solo parts which lend themselves beautifully for young choristers starting on solo work.

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810 - 1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley and Sarah Souter, and grandchild of Charles Wesley. He was a choirboy in the Chapel Royal and then embarked on a musical career.  He was appointed organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1832 and then married the Dean's sister.  He moved to Exeter Cathedral in 1835 and 1842, Leeds Parish Church, 1849 - Winchester Cathedral, 1865 - Gloucester Cathedral.  In 1839 he achieved his Bachelor of Music and Doctorate of Music from Oxford.  He became Professor of Organ in the Royal Academy of Music in 1850.

His work was almost exclusively for the Anglican church.  With Father Willis he is jointly credited with the invention of the concave and radiating pedal board for organ which has now become the standard internationally.


Monday, 1 October 2018

A Concert Of Piano Music Marking The Centenary Of Claude Debussy 30th September 2018

Tom Cooper presented us with a wonderful concert of piano music by Debussy and the composers who influenced in style.  "Lecture notes" were taken by me and James Roriston which are below.

J S Bach (1685-1750)  Toccata in D major BWV 912 (?Weimar c.1708)
Bach was an immense influence on the romantic composers of the nineteenth century.  The music was flamboyant and operatic.  The form was very sectional with alternating fast and slow tempi. The Romantics loved this.  This piece is not often heard in concerts now.  It was the work of a young Bach and shows youthful exuberance.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) "Prelude" from Suite pour le piano (Paris 1901)
This is a sort of response to the previous Bach. You can hear how much he responded to the fast note writing.  This texture is repeated throughout his career.  Debussy was often quite prickly about other composers, but not Bach.  He said Bach was the only composer before whom he would tremble if called upon to play.

Fryderyck Chopin (1810-1849) Berceuse Op.57 (Nohant 1844)
Debussy "Claire de lune" from Suite bergamasque (Paris 1890)
Chopin was adopted by the French spending most of his time in Paris apart from a brief stay in Scotland when he was accompanied by James Stirling.  Whilst in Scotland Chopin said he used to watch them talking and listen to them eating!  Chopin's style and harmony was much admired by Debussy and Chopin influenced his piano "sound".  These pieces are played as a pair to show the similarity in style.

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) Two dances from Swan Lake Op.20 (Moscow 1876)
There is strange connection between Debussy and Tchaikovsky as Debussy worked for the latter's patron.  She was a "bit nuts".  It was written in their contract that she and Tchaikovsky should never meet.  There was a profound misunderstanding on her part of being a patron.  She showed Tchaikovsky  an early composition of Debussy's and Tchaikovsky was a bit "sniffy" about it. Debussy took this amiss.  He was hard to please and refused to acknowledge any influence by Tchaikovsky on his music.  However the humour and lightness of the two dances would have been widely enjoyed.  The repetition of small cells of music has possibly been taken by Debussy, but was also used by other composers of the time.

Debussy Estampes (Paris 1903)
Debussy delighted in the exotic.  He was influenced by the music he heard in the  Indonesia tent of the Paris Exhibition of 1888. The exhibition was designed to show off the French Empire, what they already had, and what they had in their sight!  Debussy heard Gamalan music and "westernised"  it. Unusually the French have heavily influenced our idea of what Spanish music should sound like.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) Etude D'execution Transcendante No 11, "Harmonies du soir" (Weimar 1851)
Debussy Prelude No4 Bk 1 ("Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir") (Paris 1910)
Their is a marked difference to the previous Debussy heard. There is a clarity to the sound.  The athletic nature and harmony was a great influence on Debussy.  This is boisterous music. Also post impressionist and shows "modernism".

 Liszt "Waldesrauschen" from Two Concert Studies (Rome 1862)
This is a piece about the forest and the sunset and the voices within it.  Rather than something quiet and reflective though, this piece is busy and at times noisy and active.

Debussy "Reflets dans l'eau" from Images 1 (Paris 1905)
There is more modernism in this piece with fast runs and an over-arching melody that just flows through the piece.

Wagner arr. Liszt "Liebestod" from Tristan and Isolde (1857-9, arr. Rome 1867)
Liszt transcribed many pieces.  This is a good example. Debussy really liked the music of Wagner.

Debussy "Golliwog's Cake Walk" from Children's Corner (Paris 1908)
This piece was written for his daughter - it has a quote from the earlier Wagner piece. It is playful and has a lot of character. Golliwog refers to the dog who shakes his head on hearing the music and the composer increasingly depicts this playfully, re-imagining the music through to the conclusion of the piece.

Tom Cooper has a relaxed style on playing which was so well received he played us an encore, The Girl With The Flaxen Hair.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

23rd September 2018 Trinity 17

I Give To You A New Commandment   Peter Nardone

The anthem today is based on  John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you.  What makes this anthem particularly lovely is the Latin hymn Ubi caritas which is sung by the men after the ladies have sung through the New Testament words as a wonderful counter-tune below the ladies. 
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Peter Nardone - (Bach Cantatas Website)
[Where charity is true, God is there. The love of Christ has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be glad in him. Let us fear and love the living God. And from a sincere heart let us love one another.]

Peter Nardone was born in Scotland in 1965 and studied organ and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He later studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 2012 he was Organist and Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral and artistic director of the Three Choirs Festival.  As a singer, he has sung with the Monteverdi Choir, Tallis Scholars, Kings Consort  and many others.

His compositions are mostly religious.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

16th September 2018 Trinity 16

Benedictus in C   C V Stanford

The Benedictus was composed in 1909 as part of Stanford's Morning and Evening Service together with the Office of Holy Communion Op 115.  Stanford was given the choice to hear one of his services sung at Matins at York Minster in 1923 when he was a guest of the organist, Edward . "He chose the one in C", Bairstow recalled, "for he said he had never heard it!"

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) thought to be one of our great British composers was actually Irish, born in Dublin, although educated at The University of Cambridge and then studied music in Leipzig and Berlin.

Whilst an undergraduate, he was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge and was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life.  He was also Professor of Music at Cambridge.  His pupils included Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams whose fame went on to surpass his own.

He is best remembered for his sacred choral compositions for church performance in the Anglican tradition. Along with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, he was thought responsible for the renaissance of music in the British Isles.

The Call (One of Five Mystical Songs)  R Vaughn Williams

These are a collection of songs composed between 1906 and 1911 based on poems by the Welsh born English poet, George Herbert (1593-1633) who was also an Anglican priest.  There are four poems, Easter being divided into two from his 1633 collection "The Temple: Sacred Poems".  Vaughn Williams was an aethiest, but it did not stop him from setting these overtly religious poems to music.  Vaughn Williams conducted its first performance at the Three Choirs Festival in
Worcester 14th September 1911.  Originally it was composed for Baritone solo with various  accompaniments.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death. 

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest. 

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love. 

Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)  was born to a wealthy family but with a good moral code and progressive social outlook.  He always sought to help his fellow citizens. He also thought his music should be available and accessible by everyone. He developed late musically not really finding himself until in his thirties. He studied with Maurice Ravel 1907-1908 and this helped him clarify the texture of his music and rid him of Teutonic influences.  He is one of our best known symphonists  encompassing a wide range of moods from the utterly tranquil to ranging fury, mysterious to exuberant. He was strongly influenced by Tudor and folk music.  He was deeply affected by the First World War in which he served. His body of work is vast and his music remains popular and widely performed.

Semi-profile of European man in early middle age, clean-shaven, with full head of dark hair
From Wikipedia,


Sunday, 9 September 2018

9th September 2018 Trinity 15

God Be In My Head  John Rutter

God be in my head is one of the earliest English prayers found in the Sarum Primer of 1514. It is a prayer for God's guidance. John Rutter has written a beautiful setting to these profound yet simple words.

John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and had his first musical training at Highgate School as a chorister. He studied music at Clare College, Cambridge where he wrote his first published music and had his first recording whilst still an undergraduate.

John Rutter
John Rutter [Wikimedia Commons]














His compositions cover a wide variety of musical genres but he is well know by all choirs who must have some
Rutter in their repertoire. He formed the Cambridge Singers and spends his time composing and conducting.

He was awarded a CBE for services to music in the 2007 Queen's New Year Honours List.