Evensong for St Andrew's Day
Wells Cathedral Choir
Director: Malcolm Archer
Organ: Rupert Gough
Evensong for St Andrew's Day
The history of choral music at Wells Cathedral goes back before the creation of the present building in 1180. The first Cathedral was built in 705 and the records of the Vicars Choral go back to 1136. It is known that there were boys singing at Wells even earlier than that.
The service of Choral Evensong has been sung in English cathedrals since the Reformation, and is a fusion of the ancient monastic offices of Vespers and Compline. The musical items of Preces and Responses, Psalmody, the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and the Anthem frame the ministry of the Word (the lessons, the Apostles' Creed and the intercessions) in an enduring art form of consummate beauty and perfection. The worshipper is drawn closer to God in a non-participatory form of worship which allows the beauty of the music and language to enter into the soul through personal prayer and meditation.
Wells Cathedral celebrates its Patron Saint, Andrew at the end of November each year, traditionally with a Choral Eucharist in the morning and a Festal Choral Evensong in the Evening. The office of Evensong has been a rich vein of inspiration to composers over the years, and this disc allows the listener to eavesdrop on Evensong at Wells for St. Andrew's Day, and enjoy some of the finest choral works composed for the church in the twentieth century.
It is particularly appropriate that we should sing William Walton's The Twelve, not only because the text is so suitable for the feast day of an Apostle, but also because 2002, the release year of this disc, is the centenary of Walton's birth. The work is dedicated to Dean Cuthbert Simpson, of Christ Church, Oxford, where Walton was a boy chorister, and sets words by the poet W. H. Auden, a sometime fellow of Christ Church. The work is a colourful and virtuoso display for choir, organ and soloists alike, and an original and imaginative treatment of the text.
The Oxford connection continues in the composer of the Preces and Responses and the canticles. Bernard Rose was for many years Informator Choristarum (Organist and Choirmaster) at Magdalen College, Oxford, and taught in the University Music Faculty, as did Edmund Rubbra, of Worcester College who taught composition. The Preces and Responses by Rose were composed for the Magdalen Choir, and one response even quotes the bell chime in the Great Tower at Magdalen. Rubbra's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A flat is an astringent and powerful setting of the words, and each canticle is unified by the Gloria which has the distinctive organ rhythm of manual duplets against pedal triplets.
The flag for Cambridge on this recording is flown by Charles Villiers Stanford, who was Professor of Music there. His setting of Justorum animae, one of a set of three motets, is dedicated to Alan Gray, Stanford's successor as Director of Music at Trinity, Cambridge, and is an inspired setting with a highly economical use of material. At the start of the disc, as we move into the cathedral in preparation for the service, we hear part of Stanford's Prelude No. 5. in G, which is based on a traditional Irish melody. His Fantasia and Toccata at the close of the service is distinguished by its strong musical ideas, and shows improvisatory flair within a taut musical structure.
We hope that you will enjoy this music in the liturgical context for which it was intended, and will be enriched by the atmosphere of worship we hope to convey through music and word. We also hope that Wells will be a place of pilgrimage for you in the future, when you may be able to share with us in our daily choral tradition.
Malcolm Archer was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Wells Cathedral in 1996 where he directs and trains the Cathedral choir for its daily services in the Cathedral, as well as being the Musical Director for Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society. In addition to overseas tours and radio and TV broadcasts he has recorded with the Cathedral Choir a wide range of CDs and the choir now records regularly for several record companies.
Malcolm was educated at King Edward VII School, Lytham, the Royal College of Music (where he was an RCO scholar) and Jesus College Cambridge where he was organ scholar. He studied the organ with Ralph Downes, Gillian Weir and Nicolas Kynaston, and composition with Herbert Sumsion and Alan Ridout. He continues to study the organ with Daniel Roth in Paris. He has given organ concerts in nine European countries, Canada and the USA. Amongst other notable invitations, he has played for the IAO Congress on more than one occasion and given the Winston Churchill Memorial Concert at Blenheim Palace. He has also recorded for BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3, and played at most principal venues in the UK including Birmingham Town Hall, Fairfield Halls, Croydon, St. David's Hall, Cardiff, Westminster Cathedral and King's and St. John's Colleges, Cambridge. He has recorded six organ CDs in repertoire as varied as J.S.Bach and Olivier Messiaen.
Malcolm Archer is also a prolific composer with well over 150 published works. His work Three Psalms of David was premiered in Wells Cathedral as part of the Classics West Festival, with the Classics West International Chorus and The Virtuosi of London. He has also written a five movement millennium work for Lichfield Cathedral, called The Coming of the Kingdom. He was commissioned to write works for The Southern Cathedrals' Festival, the Exeter Festival and the Musica Deo Sacra Festival. He has recently been commissioned to write a work for the 350th Sons of the Clergy Festival in 2004, which is held in St. Paul's Cathedral. His works receive regular performances on BBC Radio and TV.
Malcolm Archer is an examiner and council member for the Royal College of Organists and an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
Rupert Gough enjoys a busy career as recitalist, conductor and accompanist, last year fulfilling over sixty concert engagements, more than a third of them in the USA including solo organ recitals in Washington Cathedral, St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York and in Dallas, Boston and Philadelphia. He has been involved in some twenty commercial recordings as an organ soloist, accompanist, harpsichordist and conductor on many labels. He won Third Prize in the 2000 St. Albans International Organ Competition and has previously been a finalist in the Royal College of Organists ÔPerformer of the year' competition. Since 1994 Rupert has been Assistant Organist at Wells Cathedral where he accompanies and assists in directing the nine sung services every week. He appears regularly with the choir in concerts all over the world, on the radio, television and can be heard on many different recordings. He also teaches organ at Wells Cathedral School where he has prepared a number of pupils for Oxbridge scholarships and study in Conservatoires. Rupert has also established a successful organ and violin duo with his wife Rachel. Recent engagements included premiering a new work by Timothy Salter in St. John's, Smith Square. They are now represented in the USA by Phillip Truckenbrod and have two tours there this year, together with a tour of Denmark and Sweden.
Produced by David Terry
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews
Colour Photograph by Unichrome (Bath) Ltd.