Searching for David Fawcett - 4 results.
These famous words have been set by many composers, and I have long loved three very different settings: by Lennox Berkeley, Patrick
Hadley and Benjamin Britten. In my own setting I have favoured the luscious tenderness exhibited by Hadley over the overt joyfulness of
Britten and the austere purity of Berkeley, but in contrast to Hadley's upper voices and piano texture, I have set the words for mixed
voices a cappella. In the rich sonority of the harmonies, I aimed to reflect both, within, the intensely intimate nature of the inner
verses and, without, the warmth of our own adoration of the Blessed Virgin and her Son.
The carol is dedicated to my wife, Hatty.
This four-verse original "hymn anthem" for All Saints Day or feast days of individual saints calls to mind those written for large-scale communal singing by composers such as C S Lang, with its strong, memorable melody, energising organ part and adaptable construction. It can be sung in unison (with optional alternative notes for lower voices), in three parts (SAB) or in four parts (SATB). It would therefore make a useful, flexible and popular addition to any church or school choir's library.
When I took over as Director of Music at St Mary's, Balham, I inherited a church choir typical of many nowadays - keen and committed,
but small and lacking the voices to tackle much of the standard four-part repertoire in its large library from another era, and
overwhelmed by too much counterpoint. It needed a steady supply of easy-to-learn, quiet, reflective motets for different seasons, for
use in the now customary "choir slot", during the administration of Holy Communion. I found an ample supply of recently-published
accompanied anthems for small choir, but little in the way of simple SAB a cappella motets. I therefore started writing my own, in a
largely homophonic texture.
In this case, I was keen to avoid romanticising these famous and moving words, so employed a quasi-modal melodic and harmonic approach reminiscent of some early 20th-century works of composers like Charles Wood and Martin Shaw. In the first half, the two-part texture provides a sparse, almost forlorn, treatment of the words, while giving the altos a more prominent role than they often have. After this stark, thought-provoking opening, the addition of a single line for men under the repetition of the melody, and just a hint of chromaticism on "sun", seems to add far more richness than would otherwise be heard in three-part texture.
This setting of the Evening Prayer canticles is dedicated with gratitude to Philip Ainsworth, who was my school music
teacher, church choirmaster and organ teacher. In my time in the choir of Gainsborough Parish Church, I sang and played
dozens of settings under Philip's direction. My own Mag and Nunc echoes many of the composers whose settings I came to love,
especially Stanford, Sumsion and Darke. There are also respectful references to the harmonic worlds of Howells and Vaughan
Williams, influences never far from my work. It is above all a nostalgic setting, looking back with great affection at my
musical roots in those Evensongs of the 1970s and 80s, and I hope this makes it instantly appealing and pleasurable to sing.
The voice parts are relatively straightforward, with much of the detailing of the texture coming from the ostinati in the organ part, so it should be well within reach of most choirs that still sing Evensong, and a useful and popular addition to the repertoire.