Christmas Eve at King’s (100 Years of Nine Lessons and Carols)

The author, Timothy Rogers, has delved into the archives in Cambridge, to produce a complete record of the music used in the Festival of Nine Lessons and carols at King’s over the last 100 years. His book reveals the most performed carol from the Festivals since the first one in 1918. It also includes comments made by Sir David Willcocks, including his ideas for adapting the service. This book mentions the scheme devised by Boris Ord to perform Once in royal David’s city, as well as the keys that he used for certain carols. It talks about the modern composers introduced into the Festivals by Sir Philip Ledger, as well as highlighting the most popular carols from Stephen Cleobury’s era.

Royal Descants

The final congregational hymn used at the Royal Wedding of Prince Henry and Meghan Markle has a strong Welsh melody, which is known as Cwm Rhondda. The thrilling descant and organ part for Guide me, O thou great Redeemer was composed for the occasion by James Vivian, Director of Music, who conducted the Choir of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, during the marriage service. This special music has been published by Encore Publications. It also featured on the official album (Decca cat. no. 6765519).

James Vivian also made arrangements of two hymns for marriage of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in October 2018. His last verse arrangements of Glorious things of thee are spoken and Love divine, all loves excelling are also published by Encore Publications.

Christmas at King’s

The 2017 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, included a new piece, Adam’s Fall by Richard Elfyn Jones (music) and David Broadbridge (words). The verses of this original carol are rich with imagery of the tree, the apple, Paradise and Eden, while the refrain taps into medieval rural traditions of verse and carolling. The music mirrors the theology of the words, conveying much emotional expression before reaching a reflective conclusion.

Both Adam’s Fall and We Three Kings arranged by Martin Neary have been released on a new album, 100 Years of Lessons and Carols, which marks the 100th anniversary of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve 2018.

The 2017 service from King’s College Chapel also featured Stephen Cleobury’s harmonisation and descant for the Christmas hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem, which is published in the collection, Sing, Choirs of Angels, containing six Advent and Christmas hymns. In 2018, Stephen Cleobury arranged three more Christmas hymns with descants for another seasonal collection, Tidings of Joy.

The traditional celebration of music and readings, Carols from King’s, which was shown on BBC2 in December 2017, included June Nixon’s beautiful arrangement of The Holly and the Ivy, a setting of a traditional French carol. This carol was also used in the 2010 Festival, which has since been released on CD (King’s label, KGS0001).

Happy 25th birthday Encore Publications

October 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Encore Publications. Like Classic FM and the Oldie Magazine, our music publishing business was founded in 1992. Since the launch, we have produced more than 650 publications. As Organists’s Review magazine put it, ‘From time to time the publications of a new and adventurous small publisher catch the eye of the discerning musician and it is always good to welcome new compositions and editions which are accurate and legible and which in presentation and price can compete easily with the giants of the music publishing world. Encore Publications is one such small company.’

War and peace anniversaries

British composer, Bryan Kelly (b. 1934) has composed a compelling orchestral work, Lest We Forget. His piece was originally inspired by the centenary of the start of the First World War in 2014. It takes a musical journey from conflict and unrest to reconciliation and peace. Therefore, Bryan Kelly’s thought-provoking score is highly suitable for concerts being arranged in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of WW1.

The opening section, Omens of War, is scored for woodwind, brass and percussion. It has the character of an aggressive fanfare and involves a marching tune. In marked contrast, the calmer, loving second section, Epitaph for Peace, is a passionate elegy, scored for string orchestra. The beautiful tune from the ending is deeply emotional, making a truly lasting impression that would be suitable for concerts or events on the themes of remembrance, commemoration and peace. The two distinct movements comprising Lest We Forget can be performed either consecutively or just as stand-alone, shorter pieces to mark and remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.

Epitaph for Peace has been recorded by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Barry Wordsworth. The CD release (Heritage Records, HTGCD285) has been a Classic FM featured album. More recently, in November 2018, Omens of War was also recorded by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Ronald Corp, for future release.

Christmas music for orchestras

Everyone knows The Twelve Days of Christmas, but not as rewritten by John Julius Norwich in his delightful correspondence, which record the daily thank-you letters from one increasingly bemused young lady to her unseen admirer. Adam Saunders has composed a new piece for narrator and orchestra, which is based on the spoof book and brings to life all the characters and humorous situations. The first performance was given by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Bell. The colourful has also been recorded by the RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland and with Joanna Lumley in the role of narrator.

Following the success of A Christmas Cracker, Thomas Hewitt Jones has composed other orchestral pieces, which are suitable for family concerts. His Christmas Party is a fantasy for violin solo and orchestra. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra gave the UK premiere and the work has also been recorded by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Gavin Sutherland, with Simon Hewitt Jones (violin) as soloist. The recording is released on the Signum Records label. A Christmas Hamper for orchestra is packed full of festive treats, beautifully presented in indulgent orchestrations, brimming with sumptuous melodies such as Silent night and O holy night. Christmas Angels, also for orchestra, is filled with the heavenly sound of Christmas music associated with angels.

Pacey wins competition

Joshua Pacey was the winner of the John Sanders Memorial Competition for Young Composers 2016. His piece, Mary’s Lullaby is a setting for unaccompanied mixed voices of anonymous 14th century Middle English texts. It was the unanimous choice of the panel of judges comprising Dr Christopher Robinson CVO, CBE, Bob Chilcott, Adrian Partington and Timothy Rogers. The work has been published by Encore Publications and was given its first performance by the St Cecilia Singers at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in July 2016.

Joshua initially studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, before continuing on the Masters course in composition for the screen at the Royal College of Music.

Supporting the Friends of Cathedral Music

Christopher Gower’s new anthem, Tune me, O Lord, was composed for Professor Peter Toyne CBE, Chairman, and the Friends of Cathedral Music to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of FCM. His beautiful piece for unaccompanied mixed voices with words by Christina Rossetti (1830-94) was given it premiere at the Festal Evensong service in Southwark Cathedral in June 2016.

As part of the anniversary celebrations, there was also new music by Dr June Nixon, the widely respected composer and former Organist and Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne. She was commissioned by the FCM to write an introit, Praise our God with mirth!, for SATB and organ, setting words by Thomas Campion (1567-1620). The first performances were given at the special services marking the FCM’s Jubilee in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in November 2016.

A newly found manuscript by Gordon Jacob CBE

Following the recent discovery of a manuscript by the English composer Gordon Jacob (1895-1984), a new anthem for harvest, O praise the Lord, was published in September 2015. For years Jacob’s lively choral work was been hidden away in bookshop selling rare and second-hand music. In 2014, John Turner, who is a virtuoso recorder player, purchased a brown paper folder of music containing the composer’s original manuscript and other scores of his piece, when a dealer offered it for sale in their closing down lists. ‘The anthem is an early work by Gordon Jacob,’ said John Turner, ‘written in the year after he won the Arthur Sullivan Prize for Composition at the RCM, and with a few glimpses of his mature style. No doubt his teacher Stanford would have approved of the celebratory and almost Handelian character of the work.’

Tim Rogers, Head of Publishing at Encore Publications, also commented that ‘it’s rare to discover an unpublished piece of music by such an important composer. The anthem is direct and approachable, and adds to the output of a highly trusted British composer, who wrote relatively little church music. We are very grateful of the composer’s widow, Margaret Jacob Hyatt, for permission to publish this exciting anthem.’

RIP John Scott (1956-2015)

John was a truly gifted musician, who always performed with remarkable sensitivity and style. Playing a distinctively broad stylistic range from J.S. Bach to Simon Preston, his technical skills were second to none, engaging the listeners with a real sense of individual personality. His own compositions were imaginative and highly original, often providing a very fresh take on familiar texts. He never did things badly, and he was a caring, thoughtful friend, offering support in many ways. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who were close to him.

Jonathan Bielby’s introit, May choirs of angels receive him, was written in memory of John Scott. This piece was first performed at St Thomas Church, New York, in November 2015, and is published by Encore Publications. Similarly, a beautiful, reflective anthem, At each beat of my heart, has now been composed by Randall Svane in John’s memory and is now available.

Svane wins composing competition

Randall Svane was awarded first prize for his St Thomas Service (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) in the 2014 Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Composition Competition. The panel of judges included Sarah Baldock, Judith Bingham, Sarah MacDonald and John Scott. Entries were received from 47 composers in 17 different states, as well as Australia, Canada and the UK.

We are delighted to publish Randall Svane’s composition, as well as the St Thomas Service by Philip Moore, which as awarded second prize in the same competition. Both of the winning compositions were sung at Evensong during the 10th anniversary of the Girl Chorister Course to be held at Saint Thomas Church, New York, in 2015.

Wordsworth conducts Kelly

The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Barry Wordsworth, recorded a complete disc of music by Bryan Kelly in 2014. The recording features Epitaph for Peace, which is the second movement of Lest We Forget. In addition, it contains seasonal music including Kelly’s suite of carols, A Christmas Celebration, together with his Nativity Scenes, both of which make the perfect accompaniment to the festive season. The CD, released on the Heritage label (HTGCD 295) was chosen as a featured album by John Brunning for Classic FM. He described the recording as ‘a lovely collection of bright orchestral tunes by a composer who is well worth discovering.’

Two Hymns from the Royal Wedding

The first two congregational hymns used at the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton both have strong Welsh melodies. The thrilling arrangements of Guide me, O thou great Redeemer and Love divine, all loves excelling were made for the ceremonial occasion by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, who conducted the Choirs of Westminster Abbey and HM Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, during the marriage service. This special music has been published by Encore Publications and features on the official album (Decca cat. no. 2770662).