Winter Stars

It's not winter yet! But here's a winter poem, by Sara Teasdale, which I've set to music: I went out at night alone; The young blood flowing beyond the sea Seemed to have drenched my spirit’s wings— I bore my sorrow heavily. But when I lifted up my head From shadows shaken on the snow, I saw Orion in the east Burn steadily as long ago. From windows in my father’s house, Dreaming my dreams...

Double Chant in E minor

I've just spent a week singing Evensong in Lincoln Cathedral, with the guest choir for the week: the Cathedral Singers of Ontario. We had a lovely welcome from the cathedral and indeed the city of Lincoln had much to offer, without being overwhelming. I always enjoy singing with CSO, and learn a lot. In addition, my mother is here to visit from Canada, and we have been having some time catching...

Finsbury Park

This text by the Revd Ally Barrett was written shortly after the Orlando shooting in 2016, and then drawn to my attention again in 2017 after the Manchester attack. And since then there have been more terrorist attacks. I've called it "Finsbury Park" because the attack on the mosque there was in the news while I was writing this, and because there wasn't already a hymn tune of that name in the...

Round Me Falls the Night

I've long enjoyed William Romanis's hymn text, "Round Me Falls the Night" -- so I decided to set it as an anthem. Originally I used TTBB voicing, but on balance, I like the SATB version better. I think it could be just the thing for a quieter Evensong service, or for Compline. Robot clarionets: PDF Round Me Falls the Night SATB Round me falls the night; Saviour, be my Light: Through the hours in...

Sleep Songs: Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless

Would you like to be sung to sleep? Or, if sleep really is unattainable, how about some soothing, calming music, music without words, to listen to while you are awake? Megan Ihnen is commissioning over 25 composers, including yours truly, to compose wordless lulllabies for the sleepless, which she will then record. I'm very pleased to be involved. I saw her quote-tweet Shaya Lyon, who said, "On...

O Sweet and Blessed Country

Another short piece, really just an SATB setting (with some light divisi) of one verse of a hymn, Jerusalem the Golden (not to be confused with Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, which is also beautiful). But it's a verse which is often changed in modern hymnals, which I think a great shame: O sweet and blessèd country, Shall I ever see thy face? O sweet and blessèd country, Shall I ever win thy grace?...

Waving

The past week has been a little less silly than some, but still busy. The West Gallery course at Benslow last weekend was great fun, but hard work: we really could have done with another four or six singers, which would have resulted in me singing less and being able to pay more attention to conducting clearly; at times, I felt like I was a bit "wave arms around until music stops" rather than...

Catching up with myself

I often find myself very tired when I come back from Aberdeen, and my most recent trip was no exception. I've also been very busy with composing projects: a setting of 'O Nata Lux' for a workshop in Aberdeen later this month, a few things for various competitions, oh, and trying to get to grips with the whole PhD thing. This week has been mainly about preparing for the West Gallery course at...

Art House: a hymn for Easter

I know, I know, it isn't Easter yet, we've only just started Lent, and it's probably too late for most people to use this hymn this year. But I liked the text, by Ally Barrett, very much: Life comes to an upper room, 
breaking through the fear and gloom;
 walls and door-locks are no bar: 
Jesus meets us where we are. 
Life dispels the doubt of grief 
bringing hope and new belief;...

#1daywithoutus

Today was the One Day Without Us National Day of Action to celebrate the contributions migrants make to the UK. For me, it was more a day of inaction; the past week has been very busy, and I have been out every evening for the last five nights at either rehearsals or social appointments, which left me more than a bit deflated today. It has been busy in other ways, too. I had a few ideas that will...