Saturday, 22 December 2018

Sunday 16th December 2018 Advent 3



"This is the record of John" Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

This is typical anthem of its time.  It is based on text from the Gospel of John (1:19 -23) and refers to John the Baptist.  It is divided into 3 sections each starting with solo countertenor followed by SATB chorus echoing the words of the soloist. Although usually performed on organ or viol, today Joanna Chivers (our Director of Music) played an electric piano on "harpsichord" mode which added an "early music" feel to the piece.

The anthem was written at the request of William Laud, president of St John's College, Oxford.

Gibbons sang in he choir of Kings College Cambridge between 1598 and 1598, where his eldest brother was master of the choristers. He gained his Bachelor of Music in 1606. King James 1 appointed him a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and he was organist there from around 1615 until his death, being senior organist from 1623. He was also a keyboard player in the privy chamber of Prince Charles (later Charles 1) and organist at Westminster Abbey. He died suddenly at the age of 41.

From Wikipedia
He wrote a large number of pieces for keyboard, madrigals and many verse anthems of which "This is the record of John" is one.



Jubilate Deo in B flat  Charles Villiers Stanford

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.

Taken from the Novello Copy:
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford has a perverse relationship with posterity.  Remembered today largely for his choral miniatures, this restless symphonist was the unwilling Janus of British music. A significant presence on the European scene in his own lifetime, he was an outspoken critic of Wagner, Strauss and modernism in general. Nevertheless, as a formalist with flair and skill, his influence catalysed much of the great English Music of the 20th century.  As fellow composer George Dyson said: "In a certain sense the very rebellion he fought was the most obvious fruit of his methods". The Jubilate in B flat displays the composer's trademark of thematic structures.



head and shoulders shot of an elderly man with full head of hair, moustache and pince-nez
From Wikipedia

Monday, 10 December 2018

9th December 2018 Advent 2

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains   from "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion"
John Stainer 1840-1901 Words Isaiah 52 v. 7

Stainer was born in Southwark, London, the son of a cabinet maker. He was a chorister at  St Paul's Cathedral at the age of 10 and at 16, appointed organist at St Michael's College, Tenbury.  In 1960, he became organist at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was allowed to study for a degree so long as it did not interfere with his duties and in 1864 gained his BA, and 2 years later his MA.  He was eventually an examiner for Oxford music degrees.

In 1872 he was appointed organist at St Paul's cathedral, in 1877 an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and an examiner for the Doctor of Music degrees for Cambridge and London Universities.  He received his knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1888.


John Stainer (Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, 2 December 2018

2nd December 2018 Advent 1

O Thou The Central Orb  Charles Wood

This is one of Wood's many fine anthems. It is suitable for Advent.


Charles Wood (1866-1926) was born in Ireland. He was a treble chorister in the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh. He received his early education in the cathedral choir school and also studied the organ under Robert Turle and Dr Thomas Marks. In 1883, he was one of the inaugural students of the Royal College of Music, studying composition under Charles Villiers Stanford and CHH Parry. After four years he continued his studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 1889 he was appointed as organ scholar in Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, becoming a fellow in 1994 and Director of Music and organist. Following the death of Stanford in 1924 Wood took over the role of Professor of Music in Cambridge.

He is remembered for his Anglican Church music.

Charles Wood
From Wikipedia

25th November 2018 Christ The King

Above All Praise And Majesty   Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)

Above All Praise And Majesty is a joyful,majestic piece suitable for Christ The King, Ascension and Easter.

Felix Mendelssohn is a German born composer, organist, conductor and pianist. He was a grandson of the philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn and so born into a prominent Jewish family.  However he was brought up without religion until the age of seven when he was baptised as a Reformed Christian. he was recognised early as a musical prodigy, but his family did not seek to capitalise on his talent. Mendelssohn revived interest in the music of J S Bach. He had quite conservative tastes in his composition which set him apart from his contemporaries, such as Liszt, Wagner and Berlioz. He founded the Leipzig Conservatoire.

From Wikipedia