A Sequence for St Michael Herbert Howells
Alma redemptoris mater Plainchant
Alma redemptoris mater Tomás Luis de Victoria
Regina coeli Plainchant
Regina coeli Tomás Luis de Victoria
Unsere Trübsal Johann Ludwig Bach
Richte mich, Gott Felix Mendelssohn
Tröstet, tröstet mein Volk Heinrich Schütz
Te Deum Kenneth Leighton
Antiphon Benjamin Britten
Jubilate Malcolm Singer
Total playing time 68m 00s
Mixing their Music
Mixing their Music
St Albans Chamber Choir's 2001 recording Christmas across the Centuries was a tightly themed programme not just of Christmas music but also of paired settings of the same text from widely contrasting historical periods. This present issue is a more varied anthology selected from the Choir's core repertoire of unaccompanied or organ accompanied music from circa 1600 to the present day. If there is a sub-theme running through the programme it is that of music for double choir. This means that instead of being divided into the standard four (SATB) vocal parts, each of those parts is divided to produce two four part ensembles which composers can combine and contrast in a variety of ways. The origins of this practice were in liturgical music, which from earliest times has used antiphonal devices of various kinds - either a soloist or a small ensemble singing in alternation with the main body of worshippers or the available forces being divided into two or more equal groups.
St Albans Chamber Choir
St Albans Chamber Choir was founded in 1958 by John Rose and June Pepin (née Clark) with the aim of achieving the highest standards of performance in programmes of both familiar and less well known music. Its repertoire ranges from music of the fifteenth century to works commissioned by the Choir from contemporary composers, including Nicola LeFanu, John Joubert, John Tavener and most recently Malcolm Singer. Acclaimed for its a cappella singing, the Choir also works regularly with professional instrumentalists, orchestras and soloists. Among its awards, the Choir won in 1994 a coveted BT Innovations Award for its mixed-media event Images, featuring music from and inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church together with an exhibition of icons. In 1999 the Choir was awarded an Eastern Arts Voluntary Music Development Grant to develop its programming and commission a major new work. This enabled the Choir to explore Jewish and Christian responses to the scriptures in music, and Malcolm Singer, former conductor of the leading Jewish choir, Zemel, was invited to compose a work for the two choirs together. This resulted in a cantata The Mask of Esther, which received its world premiere at St Albans Abbey in May 2001, and its first London performance in January 2002. The choir performs both locally and further afield, and also makes regular visits to Germany through its 35-year association with the Wormser Kantorei from St Albans' twin town, Worms. The Choir's first CD, Christmas across the Centuries, a sequence of beautiful music featuring medieval and modern versions of Christmas texts, was released in 2001.
To find out more about St Albans Chamber Choir, visit the Choir's website.
David Hansell first conducted St Albans Chamber Choir as a guest in early 1997 and was then offered the permanent appointment in the autumn of the same year. He is a graduate of Durham University (first and research degrees), and also holds diplomas in organ playing and choral conducting. Although he freely admits to a particular enthusiasm for seventeenth and eighteenth century music, his repertoire is extremely wide-ranging, from Gregorian chant to new commissions, as this programme demonstrates. As a conductor and continuo player David has performed throughout Europe and has toured the USA three times - he is particularly pleased to have conducted in both New York's cathedrals. In his other lives David is Director of Music at Putney High School, conducts the Esher-based Ripieno Choir, edits music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and is a regular contributor to the specialist magazine Early Music Review.
Roger Judd was a chorister in Winchester Cathedral, and continued his musical career as organ scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he studied with Sir David Willcocks. He was Assistant Organist of Ely Cathedral, and Master of the Music at St Michael's College Tenbury, before moving to Windsor Castle in 1985. As Assistant Organist of St George's Chapel he accompanies the Chapel choir in their services, broadcasts, recordings and concerts. In 2002-3 he was Acting Director of Music of the Chapel. He is organ tutor at Royal Holloway College and a piano tutor at Eton College. He performs widely as a soloist and continuo player, and has made a number of solo CDs.
Produced by Sean Farrell
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews
Photograph: The Aldenham window (detail; St Albans Cathedral, east wall of the Saint's chapel) by David Kelsall