Howells and Muhly - Concert

4th Nov 2017, 7:30pm
St John's Church, Newbury

Herbert Howells grew up in Gloucester
Gloucester Cathedral's West Window

As we all prepare to change the clocks, Janet Coxwell is fine-tuning with The Cecilia Consort the music for their forthcoming winter concert, which will be held at one of their home venues – St John’s Church – on Saturday 4 November at 7.30pm.

The concert, titled “Howells & Muhly”, will feature sacred choral pieces by two contemporary composers – one English and one American – who, although separated by a generation and an ocean, share a tradition of church singing.

Herbert Howells, an English composer, organist and teacher, was born in the reign of Queen Victoria and composed some of the finest twentieth-century Anglican church music. He was also profoundly influenced by the work of the Tudor composer Thomas Tallis and of his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams. He died in 1983.

Nico Muhly, born two years before Howells’ death and raised in New England, is a young musician who considers himself a classical composer but also embraces a variety of other genres: he has written film scores and an opera, played in live performances with rock groups and has also collaborated with Philip Glass and Björk.

Of her choices for the programme, Janet Coxwell, the Consort’s Musical Director, says: “The work of Howells is a well-established element of the Consort’s repertoire. We shall sing his Requiem, Hymn for St Cecilia and Like as a Hart desireth the waterbrooks. His Requiem was written in part as a memorial to his son, Michael, whose death at the tender age of nine Howells found it very difficult to come to terms with."

“Muhly’s work, however, has not previously featured in our concert programmes. We shall be singing his Bright Mass with Canons, written just 12 years ago and premiered in St Thomas Church in New York. Heavily influenced by his time as a chorister, the piece nods in the direction of Byrd and Weelkes – music much to the Consort’s taste – and is also influenced by Howells in style.”

The programme will finish with the Consort's rendition of Howells' arrangement of the hymn, All my hope on God is founded (to the tune Michael, another tribute to his young son).  The Consort will be accompanied by well-known local organist and accompanist, Steve Bowey.

Complete programme:

  • Bright Mass with Canons for SATB & Organ – Muhly
  • Set me as a seal – Muhly
  • Hymn for St Cecilia – Howells
  • Like as a Hart desireth the waterbrooks – Howells
  • Requiem – Howells
  • All my hope on God is founded (to Howells’ tune Michael) – Howells