Yesterday my choir from Euclid Avenue Congregational Church sang Choral Evensong at Trinity (Episcopal) Cathedral in downtown Cleveland. Not to seem overly egotistical, but they did a magnificent job, and I was so proud of them. The music was difficult–some of it we’ve been working on since last Fall.
The canticles (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) were by the Scottish composer James MacMillan, whom I consider to be perhaps the leading composer of his day. (He was born in 1959.) These canticles (recorded by the BBC singers) are austerely beautiful, with long choral melismas, but also with very dramatic and dissonant punctuations from the full organ. Daniel Hathaway, the director of music at the cathedral played the organ accompaniment. I played two short MacMillan pieces for the prelude and closing voluntary.
The choir also sang an anthem by the German composer Heinz Werner Zimmermann, “God Is Loving,” that included some of Zimmermann’s trademark jazz harmonies. It requires the choir to sing in tune. (Perhaps that is self-evident, but unfortunately lots of choirs don’t sing in tune.)
I composed the preces and responses that form the prayers surrounding the canticles and readings. I incorporated themes from the MacMillan Magnificat, as well as including one of John Tavener’s settings of the Lord’s Prayer.
It was a venture well received, and well worth the effort. I am extremely lucky to have this group.