Photo: © Kaupo Kikkas

Programme

Drop, Drop, Slow Tears – Orlando Gibbons

O Beata Trinitas – Paul Mealor - World Premiere

The Songs of Farewell – Charles H. Parry:
My Soul there is a Country
Never Weather Beaten Sail

Stargazer – Alec Roth (2015 Commission for VOCES8)
i. Stand and Stare
ii. The Star-Lit Stairs
iii. Star-Struck
iv. In the Train

Underneath the Stars – Kate Rusby arr. Jim Clements

The VOCES8 concert is kindly sponsored by the Pendine Park care organisation via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust.

VOCES8

“The singing of VOCES8 is impeccable in its quality of tone and balance. They bring a new dimension to the word ‘ensemble’ with meticulous timing and tuning.” Gramophone Magazine

“The slickest of the lot…fans of a cappella ought to hear this.” CD Review, BBC Radio 3

Andrea Haines, soprano
Eleonore Cockerham, soprano
Katie Jeffries-Harris, alto
Barnaby Smith, alto and artistic director
Blake Morgan, tenor
Euan Williamson, tenor
Christopher Moore, baritone
Jonathan Pacey, bass

The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing. Touring globally, the group performs an extensive repertory both in its a cappella concerts and in collaborations with leading orchestras, conductors and soloists. Versatility and a celebration of diverse musical expression are central to the ensemble’s performance and education ethos.

VOCES8 has performed at many notable venues in its 15-year career, including the Wigmore Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Cité de la Musique Paris, Vienna Konzerthaus, Tokyo Opera City, NCPA Beijing, Sydney Opera House, Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Victoria Concert Hall Singapore, Palacio de Bellas Artes Mexico City amongst many others.

In the 2020-2021 season they are scheduled to perform 120 concerts in the UK and across Europe, in the USA and Japan. The season begins online with ‘Live From London’, the ground-breaking global streaming festival hosted by the VOCES8 Foundation that connects performers with audiences around the world. This will be followed by a similar online Christmas festival.

This season sees the launch of the VOCES8 Digital Academy, an online choral programme for high schools and colleges featuring live interaction with members of the ensemble, live and recorded lectures, and video resources to learn and perform music from the renaissance to today.With an on-going programme of recordings, videos and live broadcasts, VOCES8 is heard regularly on albums, international television and radio, as well as maintaining a vibrant web performance presence. The ensemble is a Decca Classics artist and alongside releases on its own label, VOCES8 Records, has released acclaimed recordings that have all reached the top of the classical charts; a major new album with Decca Classics is planned for release in 2021.

VOCES8 is passionate about music education and is the flagship ensemble of the music charity the VOCES8 Foundation. Engaging in a broad range of outreach work that reaches up to 40,000 people a year, the group runs an annual programme of workshops and masterclasses at the Foundation’s home in London, the VOCES8 Centre at St Anne & St Agnes Church. Dedicated to supporting promising young singers, the group awards eight annual choral scholarships through the VOCES8 Scholars initiative. These scholarships are linked to the annual Milton Abbey Summer School at which amateur singers of all ages are invited to work and perform with VOCES8. Through the separate VOCES8 USA Foundation there is another set of 8 talented Scholars.

VOCES8 is proud to have Roxanna Panufnik as the group’s Composer-in-Residence, and Jim Clements as Arranger-in-Residence. The ensemble has premiered commissions from Jonathan Dove, Roxanna Panufnik, Alexander Levine, Alexia Sloane, Alec Roth, Ben Parry, Ola Gjeilo, Mårten Jansson, Philip Stopford, Graham Lack, Thomas Hewitt Jones and Owain Park. As ambassadors for Edition Peters the ensemble publishes educational material including the ‘VOCES8 Method’. Developed by Paul Smith, co-founder of VOCES8, this renowned and unique teaching tool is available in four languages and adopts music to enhance development in numeracy, literacy and linguistics. Also available are two anthologies of its arrangements, and an ever-expanding ‘VOCES8 Singles’ range.

For more information about the music education programmes offered by VOCES8 and the VOCES8 Foundation please visit www.voces8.foundation

www.voces8.com

Programme notes

STARGAZER [1]
four part-songs for mixed voices

  1. Stand and Stare
  2. The Star-Lit Stairs
  3. Star-Struck
  4. In the Train

[1] Stargazer: someone who gazes at the sky, or in abstraction; a dreamer. (Chambers Dictionary)

COMPOSER’S NOTE
Stargazer was commissioned by the Three Choirs Festival for Voces8, who gave the first performance at St Francis Xavier Church, Hereford, 28 July 2015.

One of the great things about festivals is that they enable us to step outside the routine of our day-to-day lives, giving us time to ‘stand and stare’. Leisure, the well-known poem on this theme, provides the text for the first of the four songs.

In the second song the curiosity of the observer gazing at the heavens through a telescope (‘the tube that spies’) is transformed into wonder, as, in a lovely shift of metaphor, the tube becomes the ‘star-lit stairs’ up which the poet’s imagination climbs to an evocation of the immensity of the cosmos and the music of the spheres.

Of course, one can have too much of a good thing, as the third song reminds us with the sorry tale of a star-struck stargazer.

For me, as for many people, train journeys offer the irresistible pleasure of siang and staring aimlessly out of the window. The fourth song celebrates the paradox that the nearby things go flashing past, whereas the far distant stars seem to stay with us as we speed through the night.

O BEATA TRINITAS

Paul Mealor (b. 1975)
O Beata Trinitas (2020)

Commissioned by The Church in Wales and dedicated to The Rt Rev‘d Dr Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph, O Beata Trinitas was intended to mark the centenary of the Church in Wales in June with performances of the anthem happening simultaneously across all of the Cathedrals of Wales; however, due to Covid-19 this had to be postponed until next year.

The anthem is a musical representation of the Blessed Trinity. It is constructed in three sections, utilises three languages (Latin, English and Welsh) and presents three musico-spiritual ideas - the joyous worshipping, the gentle prayer and the inner voice. It is music of prayer, intended to celebrate the Church’s centenary and encourage the listener to reflect upon its history. The text to the anthem was written by the distinguished Welsh poet, Dr Grahame Davies:

O beata Trinitas:
the earth, the rainfall and the grass.
bless this land through which we pass,
O beata Trinitas.

Drindod Sanctaidd ddiwahân:
gair a llais a cherdd ein cân,
dyro’th ras drwy’n henaith lân,
Drindod Sanctaidd ddiwahân.

Holy blessed Trinity:
the well, the river and the sea,
guide us to the mystery,
holy blessed Trinity.

Texts

STARGAZER
four part-songs for mixed voices music by Alec Roth

1 STAND AND STARE

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

from ‘Leisure’, William Henry Davies (1871-1940)

2 THE STAR-LIT STAIRS

I love all sights of earth and skies,
From flowers that glow to stars that shine;
The comet and the penny show,
All curious things, above, below.

But most I love the tube that spies
The orbs celestial in their march;
That shows the comet as it whisks
Its tail across the planets’ disks,
Or wheels so close against the sun
We tremble at the thought of risks
Our little spinning ball may run.

Lost in my dream, my spirit soars
Through paths the wandering angels know;
I leave my mortal self below,
As up the star-lit stairs I climb,
And still the widening view reveals
In endless rounds the circling wheels
That build the horologe of time.

New spheres, new suns, new systems gleam;
The voice no earth-born echo hears
Steals softly on my ravished ears:
I hear them singing as they shine.

from ‘The Flâneur’, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

3 STAR-STRUCK

Timothy Toodletrot lived up high,
In a wee attic just under the sky.

Timothy Toodletrot lived alone,
So high up that the small stars shone
Just over his head and twinkled bright
All night long through his one skylight.

Timothy Toodletrot sat quite still
On his tiny stool under the window-sill;
He gazed all night, till the sky was wan,
At Sirius, Algol and Aldebaran;
As quiet he sat as a mouse all day,
Waiting for night and the Milky Way,
He went not out nor ever came in,
He ate no bread, got thinner than thin;
So long he stared when he’d once begun
That bones were many and flesh was none,
And some folks say that he sits there still,
A skeleton under the window-sill.

from ‘Star-struck’, Elsie Harriet Raspin (ca. 1930?)

4 IN THE TRAIN

As we rush, as we rush in the train,
The trees and the houses go wheeling back,
But the starry heavens above the plain
Come flying on our track.

All the beautiful stars of the sky,
The silver doves of the forest of night,
Over the dull earth swarm and fly,
Companions of our flight.

from ‘In the Train’, James Thomson (1834-1882)

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