Searching for Ray Cook - 3 results.
Written in response to requests for a different arrangement of S. Baring-Gould's well-known Christmas carol. This setting is written for unaccompanied SATB, accessible to a variety of choirs — school, chapel, community choir, choral society, parish church or cathedral etc. It reflects the meaning of the words through a simple melody supported by straightforward harmonies with the occasional addition of a few colour nuances. Although originally conceived as a cappella, it could be gently accompanied by piano, keyboard or organ, should the choir need a little support to add confidence and their overall enjoyment.
As a member of several Royal School of Church Music choirs I have had the amazing opportunity to perform in almost every English
cathedral, experiencing some of the most magnificent choral music ever written in some of the most inspiring places as well as
hearing, and sometimes playing, some of the countrys finest organs.
Singing the great settings, one cannot help but absorb, analyse and admire the styles of the masters of the genre, and these influences, from residing subliminally in the recesses of the mind, cannot help but bubble to the surface when one is immersed in composing. One particular hero of mine is Howells his textures, his word setting and, above all, his unique harmonic understanding and chordal structures. In this setting, the performer will find obvious references to his style so it is a respectful homage to Howells in particular, but to others as well.
I have always relished a setting which is a good, uplifting sing which sends the congregation away happy, and I hope your choir will enjoy performing my canticles as much as I have found pleasure in composing them. The parts are very accessible; the organ, for the most part, is in a supporting role, so it is well within the capabilities of most choirs used to the choral evensong genre. With its accessibility, sound melodic structure and diatonic harmonies it would be wonderful to think that these canticles could take their place in the repertoire of either parish church or cathedral, performed to the glory of God.
This set of Preces and Responses has grown out of my love of vocal harmony, the spaces in which music to God is glorified and the way
the meaning of the words can be reflected in the music. Having sung various settings in all styles in so many cathedrals, often taking
the cantor's part, I find this vehicle for conveying such an extreme of emotions both uplifting and exciting. One cathedral choir
conductor said that it was the only part of the service where the director of music has a virtually free rein and is able to express the
responses in a way personal to him.
The textual extremes from "And take not thy holy spirit from us" through the emotions of the Lord's Prayer to "make thy chosen people joyful" and the great acclamation "The Lord's name be praised" must be sung to reflect these emotions. How often do we see a choir singing "people joyful" yet looking miserable! The music and the choir must guide the congregation through these texts, inspire them and, hopefully, send them on their way with spirits renewed.
My setting is relatively straightforward harmonically, occasionally doubling the parts to add depth and meaning. I have heard them performed in a large building, ringing around the vaulting but they could be equally at home in a parish church.
Prior to publication they have been performed a number of times by the RSCM Voices South (for whom they were written) and West Choirs at Rochester Cathedral on a number of occasions, Romsey Abbey and Cirencester Parish Church.
I do hope you and your congregation enjoy this set.