Strong Son of God
Ad amicum absentem suspiria
My Lord, my life, my love
Carminis hic finem
The unutterable beauty
What sweeter music
All poor men and humble
I sing of a maiden
The wild swans at Coole
The humble few
In freezing winter night
In excelsis gloria
Love came down at Christmas
Carol of the Adoration
Pie Iesu Jeni Melia, soprano solo
Wise men three in starry night
The stars of Bethlehem
O love that wilt not let me go `Colkirk’
Total playing time 73m 35s
No Small Wonder
Music for Christmas and Remembrance by Paul Edwards
No Small Wonder
I was both astonished and delighted when the Concord Singers approached me with the proposal that they should make a CD of my music. Now that this has come to pass, I feel also a great sense of privilege, for there are many composers whose music I admire much more than my own who have not been so fortunate as to have an entire recording devoted to their compositions. My warmest thanks go to all members of Concord for the considerable amount of time and care they have put in to this project.
Bedford is home to another chamber choir beside the Concord Singers: this is Cantamus, in which I sing second bass and which I have occasionally had the pleasure of conducting. As will become apparent from the notes which follow, Cantamus has played a very important part in my choral music, and its founder (and conductor for at least the first twelve years), Paul Andrews (who is now an Anglican priest) was kind enough to act as producer during the Concord recording sessions.
The composition of music is, for me, first and last an expression of emotion. It does not matter particularly if the emotions felt by the listener (or the performer) are not the same as those which gave rise to the music’s creation : the main thing which matters is that the music moves those who hear and those who sing or play, and expresses feelings which cannot be expressed otherwise. I believe that music without human or spiritual feeling has no point whatsoever. However, it has to be said that often the most moving music of all is that which is understated and restrained, rather than melodramatic, sprawling or histrionic.
I make no claims to originality or distinction in what follows. I have only ever written music when I have had an inner compulsion to do so, and (in Holst’s immortal words) the not writing of it would have become a positive nuisance to me! All I can say is that I mean it and feel it with every fibre of myself, and if it says something to the listener and performer then the labours of composition will not have been in vain.
The Concord Singers
The Concord Singers (Director - Mary Bainbridge) were founded in 1979 by Mary, and have a large and varied repertory of sacred and secular works, both accompanied and unaccompanied. They have always sung unconducted, led from within by their director. The group started as an octet composed of staff and students of Bedford College of Higher Education where Mary was a Lecturer in Singing and Pianoforte. At first, the repertoire was a mixture of church music, madrigals, folk-songs and a variety of music arranged for them by Vic Bainbridge, who was Principal Lecturer in Music at the College. As the years went by, however, encouraged by Mary’s enthusiasm and expertise, the group’s numbers increased, its repertoire widened to include many kinds of music from the last five centuries, and it has performed in a variety of venues in Bedfordshire and beyond.
Over the last two years, helped by the frequent presence of Paul Edwards and his infectious pleasure at hearing his music performed (often for the first time) Concord has developed a great liking and admiration for it, culminating in the preparation for and the recording of this CD which covers a representative range of his accompanied and unaccompanied pieces for Christmas and Remembrance. This has given the Singers an additional focus to their work; and it is hoped that the CD will enable a wider audience to share the results of the collaboration.
Mary Bainbridge is a Graduate of Trinity College of Music, London. She spent a number of years as a professional chorister at St. Mark’s Church, North Audley Street and St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields in London. At Trinity College, she studied singing with Gwendolyn Hanson and, later, with Henry Cummings, Head of Faculty of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music. She obtained her Fellowship in Solo Singing in 1970. Despite a busy career in school music teaching, she has always reserved time to pursue her love of singing, both as a teacher and a performer.
Paul Christison Edwards is a native of Turvey, at the north-west edge of Bedfordshire. At the age of nine, he went to St. Paul’s Cathedral as a Chorister, where he sang over four and a half years, later spending a similar span of time as a Lay Clerk in the Choir of Peterborough Cathedral.
Among subsequent posts as Organist and Choirmaster, Paul has worked at Weston Favell (Northampton) (1987-1992), St. Paul’s Bedford (1992-1999) and now All Saints, Kempston. In 1980, he gained the Diploma of A.R.C.O., with the Sowerbutts and Durrant Prizes for paperwork, and the L.R.S.M. in Music Theory (1991), followed by the L.T.C.L. for composition in 1992.
He leads a busy life as organist, choirtrainer, teacher of piano and theory, accompanist, and choral singer. He has been an Examiner for the Royal School of Church Music Dean’s and Bishop’s Awards in the Diocese of Peterborough since 1994, and has made a series of recordings of the historic church organs of North Bedfordshire over the past five years or so (produced by Lammas Records). Another recent project has been the transcribing and editing of six volumes of 18th Century English Organ Music, now published by ANIMUS. He has now passed the 400 mark in the list of “Op.Nos.”, albeit that these are mainly short works. His output is mainly church music (including around 150 hymn-tunes); but in addition to the anthems, services, and carols, he has composed many songs for voice and piano, organ voluntaries, and small piano pieces.
7th May 2001 (All Saints Church, Turvey, items with organ)
4th November 2001 (All Saints Church, Kempston, unaccompanied items)
Music published by OECUMUSE (all titles except:- No Small Wonder / In Memoriam /
Norfolk Requiem - ANIMUS, and What Sweeter Music Ñ FAGUS-MUSIC)
Recording sessions producer: The Revd. Dr. Paul Andrews
Recorded and edited by: Lance Andrews
CD Cover picture - water-colour of Turvey Church by David James.