Come let us all this day Johann Sebastian Bach
Come, come, my voice Johann Sebastian Bach
My heart ever faithful Johann Sebastian Bach
O mysterium ineffabile J F Lallouette
How beautiful are the feet Georg Frederick Handel
I know that my Redeemer liveth Georg Frederick Handel
Magnificat in F George Dyson
The Call Ralph Vaughan Williams
A Gaelic Blessing John Rutter
Light of the world John Dankworth
Ex ore innocentium John Ireland
Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child Kenneth Leighton
Magnificat in D Herbert Kennedy Andrews
A song of peace Charles Villiers Stanford
Lord, at all times I will bless Thee Felix Mendelssohn
Hear my prayer Felix Mendelssohn
Total playing time 65m 07s
Come, Come, My Voice
Come, Come, My Voice.
The tradition of all-male church choirs is an international one, stretching back many centuries. In Britain we are hugely fortunate - indeed the envy of the world - that here alone do our cathedrals still resonate, day by day, to the sound of men and boys singing their Creator's praises.
The repertoire performed in cathedrals and college chapels is arguably wider and more diverse than that written for any other medium. Within that broad tradition several elements are present in the music of every age; one of these is the use of the solo boy's voice. It is a sound which has enchanted composers throughout the ages - from Bach to Britten, Handel (remember his marking 'the boy' in Messiah) to Hurford. Solo roles for a boy's voice are found not only in Anglican anthems and in the major choral works of Bach and Handel, but also in many settings of the Magnificat, particularly those of post romantic composers such as the three represented in this programme - C V Stanford, George Dyson and H K Andrews. Each approaches writing for the boy's voice entirely differently: Stanford with the famous 'spinning-wheel' organ accompaniment, occasional entries by the choir amplifying the harmony and broadening the dynamic range, Dyson with the limpid simplicity of a Schubertian song stripped to its bare essentials, Andrews with the beauty of his New College, Oxford, choir singing unaccompanied in mind (a beauty which caused William Harris to compose Faire is the Heaven for New College choir when he was organist there). Each setting is of haunting loveliness - the more so because of the very nature of the almost disembodied effect of the mature boy's voice floating above the texture.
Many cathedrals once a week sing a "boys' voices" Evensong, whose repertoire embraces all periods of composition. Several items in this concert stem from Southwell's 'Tuesday evening' repertoire: arias by Bach and Handel, a sacred song by Stanford, and anthems by Lallouette, Vaughan Williams (usually heard as a baritone solo), Hurford, Rutter, Ireland, Mendelssohn and - perhaps surprisingly - jazz musician John Dankworth, whose haunting Light beyond shadow is a firm favourite with Southwell choristers and congregation. Christmas is, of course, a time when the boy's voice comes into its own; we have allowed ourselves one Christmas piece in this programme - Kenneth Leighton's imaginative and beautiful setting of the 'Coventry Carol', with its prominent part for solo treble.
The most extended romantic work usually associated with a solo boy is Mendelssohn's Hear my prayer, whose lyrical, varied and somewhat dramatic first section is of course followed by the ever-popular O, for the wings of a dove. The range and depth of expression demanded by such a work calls for a boy of maturity - inevitably a boy nearing the end of his time as a treble. Thus it is that many such recordings capture the final flowering of a voice which has done sterling service for up to six years in the cathedral's choir stalls. So it is with Nicholas Fletcher, a dedicated Southwell chorister, whose voice just held out for these demanding recording sessions. Our hope is that Nicholas's singing, and that of the Minster Choir, will bring as much delight and spiritual refreshment to all who listen to our CD as it has brought to the cathedral congregations at Southwell over the last few years.
Music at Southwell
Music has flourished at Southwell Minster for at least 1,000 years, during which time it has been supplied every day by the Minster Choir: boys educated at the Minster School and six Lay Clerks. On the Minster assuming cathedral status in 1884 the Choir¹s outreach grew. It is very much regarded as a musical jewel in Nottinghamshire¹s crown, regularly broadcasting, recording and touring in addition to the daily choral services in the Minster. Many former Choristers have achieved much in later life a fact which encourages generation after generation of parents to entrust their sons to our care. Long may this unique tradition flourish in the cathedrals of our land.
You may visit Southwell Minster¹s website at
Paul Hale has been cathedral organist at Southwell since Easter 1989. He holds the ancient title of Organist & Rector Chori, and when he is not fulfilling those functions also conducts the Nottingham Bach Choir, edits Organists¹ Review and is an active organ adviser locally and nationally. Well known in the UK, Europe and the USA as a recitalist, choral trainer and lecturer, Paul has recently completed a period as President of the Cathedral Organists¹ Association. He counts himself immensely privileged to run the music at Southwell, where the beauties of the building, its liturgy and its organs are a daily inspiration for him.
Philip Rushforth has been Assistant Organist of Southwell Minster for eight years, following three years as Organ Scholar of Trinity College Cambridge. A pupil of Roger Fisher and David Sanger, he was a finalist in the 2001 RCO Young Performer of the Year competition, and has become increasingly well-known for his accompanying skills, choir-training abilities and superb organ recitals. In September 2002 he returns to Chester Cathedral (where he was previously Head Chorister and Organ Scholar) to assist David Poulter in the running of the large music department and various choirs there.
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews
Cover Photographs by Lance Andrews
Choir photograph by Chris Knapton