Female & male speakers, SATB choir, continuo organ & cello, 1 percussion (tenor drum) | Duration : 6 minutes
This piece places two chorales from Bach’s St Matthew Passion in the context of “Breaking News” reportage of the crucifixion, with linking narrative by the composer for TV anchor-woman and male reporter (Matthew Evangelist). It was commissioned by the University of Wisconsin in April 2015
As part of the Stratford upon Avon Festival Bacchanale was commissioned for the concert given by the Stratford Horn Convention in Holy Trinity Church on July the 14th. Conducted by Peter Chadwick and featuring various combinations of horns, the concert culminated in the extaordinarily exciting sound of 16 horns ranged in 4 quartets around the church. After a portentous introduction the baccanale soon gets into full swing with a riotous allegro full of stomping syncopation and meaty melodies.
Music for St Ives was commissioned by Adrian King for his Brio Brass Ensemble who gave the first performance at the St Ives September Festival in Cornwall on the 16th September 1981. It was later played by the Philip Jones Ensemble. It has four very distinctive movements ranging from the furious energy of the first to the exhilaration of the last where a Cornish hymn can be heard amidst all the wild excitement.
3 solo sopranos (from the choir), alto, tenor & bass soli (from the choir), SSATB choir, organ | Duration: 7 minutes
God is gone up – a song for the Ascension – was commissioned by the choir of Clare College, Cambridge and had its first concert performance at the Spitalfields Festival, London on June 20th 2014. It is dedicated to the memory of John Tavener.
In this vivid setting of the Ascension scene, Jesus’ apostles (choir) have gloomily watched him vanish into the sky, accompanied by a fanfare which gradually fades to silence. The distant voices of angels (three solo sopranos placed high on a gallery and far from the choir) are heard from heaven, singing Jesus’ name in Greek. Two angelic figures (alto, tenor and bass soli, singing as one) appear beside them and ask (in Latin) why they are staring up at the sky: “Viri Galilaei, quid admiramini?”. The apostles express their sorrow at the departure of Jesus. The angelic visitors, using the Greek words of a hymn quoted by St Paul, explain Jesus’ incarnation, importance to mankind, and ascension in glory. The apostles repeat (in English) each line after the angels, and gradually regain their spirits. The tempo increases until it is twice the speed of the opening – at which point the fanfare returns, but this time as the counterpoint to a triumphant “Allêlouïa” sung by all voices. Over the top of this, the three heavenly sopranos sing the Greek words of the ancient acrostic used as a symbol by early Christians: “Iêsous Christos Theou Huios Sôtêr” (Jesus saviour, anointed son of God), the initial letters of which spell the Greek word for fish.