Etienne Moulinié is not exactly a household name, but our April free download - his motet 'O Dulce Nomen'- stands alongside the best of 16th-century vocal polyphony. His music has been neglected for over three centuries. Eastertide is a good time to bring it back to life.
Excellent news has come through of Steven Grahl's appointment as Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral . There is a pleasing symmetry about all this – as Peterborough 'loses' Robert Quinney to New College, so New College 'loses' Steven Grahl to Peterborough – but there is also a sadness at our saying goodbye to such an accomplished musician. Not only can Steven play the organ (and the piano) with great musical distinction, he can also lead singers with a complete understanding of their vocal deportment. Those things that you have to do here at New College, like reading an open score from C clefs whilst transposing the while, he can do without batting an eyelid. This level of musical literacy and breadth of skills is rare. So, our very wishes to Steven as he starts out in September on his new appointment, so well merited by all he has so far achieved in his career. New College will try to find someone as good to succeed him, but it won't be easy!
10 April 2014
Our second new track, free for your to download, is William Cornysh's masterpiece 'Woefully arrayed'; chosen for this season of Lent.
As with last month there is the option of a spoken introduction by EH.
_ I am delighted that Robert Quinney has been named my successor as Organist of New College, starting in September. I think everybody will understand my interest in the appointment, in which, according to the custom of this place, I played no role. The brief is a broad one, and one that not many are able to fill, not through some lamentable inadequacy on their part, but because in modern times rather more specialisation goes on than used to be the case. To be successful here you certainly need to be an established keyboard player, and an excellent choir director. You also need to be effective working with children. And then within the Music Faculty you have to cut the mustard as a Lecturer and Tutor, keeping well ahead of the very bright and motivated students Oxford attracts. Entrepreneurial skills are also required, not to mention the administrative. Last but not least, it is difficult to imagine doing this job not also being a practising Christian. Robert Quinney cleared all these fences with room to spare. And I am so pleased to be relinquishing my post knowing that Robert will be taking over. On the subject of relinquishing, the word 'retirement' implies that I shall be passing my time now growing tomatoes. Not true, though I like tomatoes. I'll continue to be active as a freelance conductor and consultant and writer. EH
Every month between now and August we will be offering something a little different: a free download of a new track by New College Choir. Beginning this February, our offering is Maurice Greene's celebrated anthem, 'Lord, Let me know mine end'.
Alongside, in a separate download, EH has recorded an Introduction to the performance, partly a commentary on the piece, but also a reflection on aspects of his work with New College Choir over the years.
We are delighted to have found a replacement for Ben Bloor when he leaves us for Westminster Cathedral. Nicolas Haigh has been appointed Organ Scholar at New College from September 2014. Currently at York Minster Nick was previously organ scholar of Clare College, Cambridge (2009-2012).
_ As we gather speed at the beginning of this New Year, my last with New College Choir, I have a few things up my sleeve. To mark the tenth release on our own label Novum, and to celebrate this initiative (another first for New College) we shall be offering you a monthly FREE download. Each newly-recorded piece a treasure, and a favourite of the choir in my time. Alongside the music (in an optional extra download) I will introduce each of these pieces: not only an historical and musical introduction, but also a thinking aloud about aspects of what being Director of Music has signified for me over the last 38 years. I shall be inviting you to join in an extended celebration of the role of choirs such as ours in the musical life of this nation, both in times past and times present. I hope you will be able to join us!
The choir is looking to appoint an organ scholar for the next academic year, 2014/2015, to succeed Benjamin Bloor, who moves to take up a post at Westminster Cathedral.
The successful applicant will work with the Assistant Organist, Steven Grahl, playing for choral services in chapel (weekdays except Wednesdays, and Saturdays and Sundays), and for the choir's busy concert, recording and touring programme.
This post is open either to current undergraduates or to post-graduates looking for an opportunity to develop and enrich their skills in one of the choral foundations. Salary will reflect age and experience.
Full details will be posted in January. All interested applicants should contact Professor Edward Higginbottom.
Following on from last week's Advent webcast, we've put a live recording of last Sunday's Service of Readings and Music for the Season of Christmas online, for all those who couldn't make it, or who need a fix of New College Choir over the vacation and can't make it to the Low Countries to hear us sing there!
This service included the first public performance of Patrick Hawes' Angelus Domini, which he wrote for us whilst we were recording some of his work earlier this year.
See below for the order of service, which we're making available again in order to enhance your enjoyment of, and participation in the service.
Last Sunday we sang A Service of Readings and Music for the Season of Advent to a packed chapel: one of the highlights was a premiere of Swete Roose, a setting to music by Toby Young of a 15th century poem in adoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His setting combined exquisite solo writing with sensitive choral accompaniment, breaking forth into joyous polyphony.
Toby sent us a few words about his inspiration for the piece:
I have always been fascinated by macaronic carols such as 'In Dulci Jubilo' for the way that the bi-lingual text expresses one image through two different cultures. Much of my music deals with combining different stylistic influences, and I wanted to explore this idea in 'The Swete Roose'. The lovely 15th-century text provided me with the perfect foundation to try and develop a language that could be clearly contemporary, yet also recall the luminous modal world of medieval music. It was a delight to write this piece for the New College choir, whose distinct and beautiful sound resonates with a tremendous history and tradition, whilst still sounding fresh and unique.
The whole service was recorded and we've put it online on our webcasts page for you to enjoy afresh. This is the order of service, in case you'd like to follow what's happening: