The Cathedral’s festival new music wells 78-18 preceded the choir’s half-term break, and what a week it was! In its tenth anniversary year, the festival saw the choir performing in eight world premieres! And of course, building on the success of previous years, all music during the Cathedral’s services was selected from repertoire written over the last 40 years.
There were many highlights. This year’s distinguished Composer-in-Residence was Diana Burrell, who celebrated her 70th birthday shortly after the festival. She had two works premiered by Wells Cathedral Choir: a setting of the Collect, Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord (written for the Cranmer Anthem Book) and secondly, her new verse anthem Sing Alleluia forth in duteous praise for choir, alto and baritone soli, and organ which was given its premiere performance at the final service of the festival. This latter work was a real tour de force for the choir and organ, and particular credit must go to Mr Stephen Harvey and Mr Christopher Sheldrake, the Vicars Choral who sang the challenging solo parts.
At the Cathedral Eucharist service on Sunday 14 October, the choir also gave the first performance of a new mass by Lord (Michael) Berkeley CBE, entitled Missa ‘O Sacrum convivium’, as well as the first performance of its companion motet, O Sacrum Convivium. Again, these works were not without their challenges and the choir delivered committed premiere performances of each.
The festival also included world premiere performances of a wonderful new choral work by young composer, Kerensa Briggs, as well as two new anthems by Thomas Nettle and Rebecca Farthing, both of whom are students at Wells Cathedral School. Many congratulations to both the choir for their performance and to these young composers for their exciting new works; we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
There were also five lunchtime recitals: a recital of music for trumpet and organ given by Oliver Chubb and David Bednall; students from Wells Cathedral School gave three lunchtime recitals, which included music by the school’s student composers. And our very own Assistant Organist, Jeremy Cole, gave a spectacular organ recital on the final day of the festival, featuring music by Judith Bingham (President of the festival), Diana Burrell, Tarik O’Regan (in his 40th birthday year), Lord (Michael) Berkeley CBE (in his 70th birthday year), and the first performance of a wonderful new work for organ and electronics by Barnaby Martin. You can listen to that last work by clicking here.