CE Wells Cathedral 8th June 2011
CE Wells Cathedral
During the New Music Wells Festival
Order of Service:
Introit: Glory to thee, my God, this night (Gary Davison) (first broadcast)
Psalms: 41, 42, 43 (Bairstow, Crotch, Robinson)
First Lesson: 1 Kings 19: 1-18
Office Hymn: Eternal Monarch, King most high (Gonfalon Royal)
Canticles: Cantate Domino and Deus misereatur (The Wells Service - Judith Bingham) (first broadcast)
Second Lesson: Luke 8: 16-25
Anthem: Ascension (Philip Wilby) (first performance)
Hymn: Glory to thee, my God, this night (Tallis's Canon)
Organ Voluntary: Offrande et Alleluia Final from Livre du Saint-Sacrement (Messiaen)
Assistant Organist: Jonathan Vaughn
Organist & Master of the Choristers: Matthew Owens
Just bumping this as a reminder.
To be honest, there was more excitement and invention in ten bars of the the Messiaen Offrande and Alleluia than in much of what we heard elsewhere on the Wells Order of Service, valiantly though the choir acquitted themsleves.
The Gary Davison introit was just plain dull no matter how well it was sung. Quite liked the Judith Bingham, would like to hear them again - the men had a good run out in those "canticles", and the new Philip Wilby anthem had colourful moments - trebles good here as were the altos - but it was extremely short. Less is more? BTW, no office hymn - as billed? What sounded to be a rather under-rehearsed Lord's Prayer with some very awkward leaps particularly for the trebles, or was that just my imagination?
A little harsh there, Draco. I too liked the Bingham canticles and enjoyed the rather quiet, devotional nature of the service, something which was polished to perfection in M.A.'s day. Agreed the Wilby was short..more introit length...and one would have liked a bit more music and a bit less Dean. (Sorry, Dean. You have one of the finest cathedral 'speaking voices' in the business, but we musos just want music!) Given the service was meant to reflect stuff written in the past 40 years, I felt the Shephard responses, although qualifying, were just too backward-looking to count. I too agree about the absence of a hymn and about the excellence of the Messaian. V well played indeed IMHO.
i think you'll find that the voice of the Dean belonged to the Precentor.
I thought the Introit was a viable little meditation on quasi-plainchant themes - it surely was not intended as a magnum opus despite its considerable length. The Bingham canticles were musically very engaging, though I found it hard to reconcile them with the set text: very introspective (a nod to Compline, perhaps?). The anthem may have been short, but it was to the point, and it certainly brought the treble line to life. The absence of a scheduled hymn and psalm was surely a BBC request - the service ended at 1700 precisely. And, no matter whose voice it was, the lesson reader was excellent - I could even forgive the mini-sermon that preceded the scriptural text.
And that leaves the question we all tiptoe around, as we did with Salisbury a fortnight ago: did we hear boys, girls, or a mix (the 'special' choir) on the top line? OK, it doesn't really matter so long as the sound is right, and the sound was right. But I have a view on this - does anyone else?
With your experience in this field, decantor, I have to say that while The Wells service list asterisks this service as sung by boys and men. rather like you, as soon as that introit started and more so in the psalms, I said out loud to myself 'erm, girls in there as well, maybe?' But then settled to listen to whatever.
Wells have been known to mix before, and to be fair they do make it very clear that on 'special services' they do mix voices. It's rather why I wrote 'trebles' above rather than 'boys'.
Maybe someone who was there can help us out?
I think Wells now have girls only up to age 14 whereas in the past they have been up to 18.
If the music list said it was boys and men I think that was the case although the younger girls would probably be more difficult to discern if mixed in unlike the older girls of the past.
The singing was OK but I don't think the choir compares with Malcolm Archer's.
Most of the music wasn't my cup of tea. Nice tuneful introit if a bit long and I do like the Shephard setting of the responses and Lord's Prayer. A really good expansive boys line would have shown up in the phrases "deliver us from evil" and "only though O God". For me the boys' sound was a bit thin and screechy and the notes rather bashed out at times, The chant for psalms 41 and 42 was lovely.
Decantor, as a general rule I don't think boys and girls should be mixed for the daily services, they should sing separately with the men or on their own. There are plenty of other opportunities to mix the choirs.
"The Wells service list asterisks this service as sung by boys" - you're one up on me there, Draco. I combed the Wells Cathedral website for a music list, and couldn't find one. Where do they hide it? But in truth you slightly over-interpreted what I said before. From early on in the introit, I decided that (at long last) we were hearing the Wells boys - I suspect (God & MO forgive if I am wrong) that they have not been considered entirely trustworthy in recent years, and that today was their re-engagement with the world. There were many tiny imperfections so typical of boys, and hints of a chest register unavailable to girls: most of all, there was their explosion into the opening of the anthem - boys explode more effectively than girls, and relish chances to do so (we could hear their excitement). If this was indeed the boys' unit, they are not yet in top gear, but they are well on the way. If it was a mix, it worked - but I don't believe it was.
Originally Posted by DracoM
VCC, it is not clear why you think boys and girls should not combine liturgically: at Wells, they did so effectively for their recent Mathias CD, and such sounds would be equally valid in a service. But if you are considering the general welfare of boys' and girls' treble units, then I would agree with you - and fortunately the choral foundations usually take the same view.
What gives you the idea that girls don't have a chest register?
Originally Posted by decantor