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lo, the full, final sacrifice

lo, the full, final sacrifice cover picture

St Albans Abbey Girls Choir - Lay Clerks of St Albans Cathedral Choir

Director: Simon Johnson
Organ: James McVinnie
Rejoice in the Lamb Benjamin Britten

A Festival Anthem Lennox Berkeley

Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice Gerald Finzi

Five Carols Richard Rodney Bennett
There is no rose
Out of your sleep
That younge child
Sweet was the song

Let all the World in every Corner Sing Kenneth Leighton

Total playing time 63m 00s

lo, the full, final sacrifice

St Albans Abbey Girls Choir

In January 1996 a group of 25 girls aged 7-15 and from many different backgrounds came together to form the St Albans Abbey Girls’ Choir. Most had no experience of Evensong, of psalms, of robes or of processions. Under the inspirational guidance of the choir’s founder, Andrew Parnell, the girls achieved fine results in a very short space of time, and it soon became accepted that they were an important and valuable part of the life of the Abbey. The raison d’être of the choir is the office of evensong on Wednesdays and Fridays – these had formerly been plain days with no music. The choir also takes on more service work in the busy seasons to spread the load previously borne entirely by the Cathedral Choir, and is increasingly developing a concert role. An important part of the choir’s ethos is that it should be ‘different, but complementary’ to the boys’ choir.

The choir have sung Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3 and have recently appeared twice on BBC Songs of Praise. They have made a highly acclaimed CD recording - Awake my Soul – on the Lammas label. In December 2002 they undertook a complete performance (with early instruments) of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and in March 2003 they sang to HM the Queen and HRH Prince Philip. Several composers have written music especially for the choir, most recently Malcolm Archer and Richard Allain. In October 2003 the choir will undertake their first tour abroad – to the United States of America – where they will sing in Washington DC, Baltimore, Hagerstown and Richmond, Virginia.

Lay Clerks of St Albans Cathedral Choir

The Cathedral Choir (of boys and lay clerks) was formed just over 120 years ago when the Abbey became a Cathedral. Before its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539, the Benedictine monastery of St Albans Abbey had enjoyed a distinguished musical history, most notably when the composer Robert Fayrfax was employed.

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson was born in Peterborough in 1975. He was a chorister and subsequently Head Chorister of Peterborough Cathedral Choir and he went on to hold organ scholarships at Rochester, Norwich and St Paul’s Cathedrals. He holds the organ diplomas of the Royal College of Organists, having won several major prizes at both.

In 1998 Simon was appointed Director of Music at All Saints’ Church in Northampton, where his work involved running the choir of men and boys, and also the separate girls’ choir. During this time the choirs toured France, Italy and Germany and made two CD recordings.

Since being appointed Assistant Master of Music and Director of the Abbey Girls’ Choir at St Albans Cathedral in 2001, he has accompanied the Cathedral Choir on trips to Haarlem and Angers, performed on BBC television and radio, and on a CD recording. With the girls’ choir he has given premieres of works by Malcolm Archer and Richard Allain and made a CD recording; future plans include a tour of the USA.

James McVinnie

James McVinnie is Organ Scholar at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. Currently in his second year in the post, he acts as accompanist to the Cathedral Choir, the Abbey Girls Choir, the St Albans Bach Choir and St Albans School Choir. Born in Kent, James was educated as a music scholar at Sevenoaks School, where he was school organist and organist to the Kent Youth Chamber Choir. In October this year he moves to read Music and be Organ Scholar at Clare College, Cambridge.

Recorded in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban on 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th February 2003 by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter.
Produced by Richard Tanner
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews
Cover Photograph: The Crucifixion by Graham Sutherland (1946), taken by Michael Moralee