SIR JOHN TAVENER DIES
22 November 2013
Sir John Tavener, the British composer whose musical trajectory mirrored his exploration of spirituality, has died at the age of 69.
Many Choir & Organ readers will know Tavener’s music through singing some of his large body of religious music (The Lamb, Song for Athene, The Protecting Veil). He joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977, but his music reflected a far wider range of influences, as seen in his magnum opus The Veil of the Temple, the eight-hour all-night vigil (2002); indeed, the composer wrote that ‘it attempts to remove the veils that hide the same basic truth of all authentic religions.’
Tavener wrote a single work for solo organ: Mandelion (1981) is a 24-minute work commissioned for the 1982 Dublin International Organ Festival and was premiered in St Patrick’s Cathedral by Peter Sweeney. The composer described it as ‘a meditation upon the changing and distorting images of Christ’.
Obituary in the January/February 2014 issue of Choir & Organ.
O come, all ye faithful
22 November 2013
Bishop Benson, first Bishop of Truro and initiator of Nine Lessons with Carols
On 17 December, Truro Cathedral will hold a service that reconstructs the first ever Nine Lessons with Carols. The format of Nine Lessons with Carols was an innovation by the 19th-century Bishop Benson, and the first service was held in Truro Cathedral at 10pm on Christmas Eve 1880 (the format was translated to King’s College, Cambridge – with which venue it is now most closely associated – in 1918). At that time, the Cathedral was a temporary wooden structure where services took place during the construction of the present Gothic Revival building.
Llandaff thins down
6 November 2013
Jobs are at risk at Llandaff Cathedral as the Dean and Chapter seek ways to reduce an anticipated deficit of £81,000. It seems the Cathedral Choir is likely to be worst hit, as five lay clerks, a choral scholar and the assistant organist have been invited to participate in consultation meetings during the coming weeks; their redundancies could save the Cathedral nearly £50,000. The proposal is to maintain the boy choristers and to keep a budget to pay the adult singers on an occasional basis for weekends and special events, such as Advent and Christmas.
A spokesperson for the Cathedral said, ‘It is with a very heavy heart that we have taken the decision to put a number of roles in the Cathedral at risk of redundancy. However, we have a duty to be financially responsible and cannot run on a continuing deficit. We have considered all our options very carefully and feel these plans are the best way forward to enable us to save money while ensuring our choral tradition remains as good as it can be, and our music ministry has a secure future.’
The proposed cuts come only three years after the installation of the new £1.5m organ by Nicholson & Co.
Diaries from the Elgar family published
23 September 2013
Publisher Elgar Works has released the first in a series of volumes reproducing the diaries of the Elgar family. Edward Elgar: Collected Correspondence: Provincial Musician contains diary entries from 1857 to 1896, chronicling the lives of Elgar and his wife Alice before their wedding in 1889.
The book covers the period from Elgar’s life an instrument teacher to the first performance of ‘King Olaf’ using letters to and from the Elgar family, as well as contemporary sources.
The book has been edited by Martin Bird, the editor of the Elgar Society Journal. Bird’s research catalogue comprises of 15,000 letters, reviews and articles. The next volume to be published in the Collected Correspondence series will be An Elgarian Who’s Who, also complied by Martin Bird, expected for release in February 2014.
Britten centenary marked with commemorative coin by Royal Mint
23 September 2013
A 50p coin commissioned by the Royal Mint to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten has been unveiled. The coin, designed by Tom Phillips CBE, will be released on 27 September – in time for the 100th anniversary on 22 November.
The commemorative coin will be available in gold proof, silver proof and uncirculated versions. Britten’s 50p marks the first time a composer has featured on a British coin.
Tom Phillips said: ‘What I wanted the coin to speak of was music. Thus the stave soon entered the design … and his name married well with the stave. The natural accompaniment with Britten’s passion for poetry as our preeminent composer of opera and song, was some kind of key quotation.
‘The words which eventually suggested themselves, come from the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. What better clarion call for a musical anniversary could there be than “Blow, bugle, blow: set the wild echoes flying”?’