On Saturday 7th March at 7:30pm, The Cecilia Consort returns to St John’s Church with the Newbury premiere of Jonathan Rathbone’s full-length a cappella work entitled ‘Under the Shadow of His Wing’. Commissioned by the Vasari Singers and completed in 2014, this work is a treasury of choral gems and Musical Director Janet Coxwell is thrilled to be bringing it to the attention of a wider audience. “This is a true Cecilia piece,” she says, which will please those who enjoy the choir’s ringing harmonies.
Composer Jonathan Rathbone has an eclectic musical background. Perhaps best known in connection with the Swingle Singers, he was their Musical Director and arranger, singing with them for twelve years. He wrote his first anthem at the age of eight and went on to be classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music. He also sang Tenor at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, which is where he first met Janet.
In ‘Under the Shadow of His Wing’, Rathbone has brought together 16 texts from a variety of sources – from Church liturgy to 17th century poetry – taking the listener on a lush musical journey from twilight into night. Those who love Evensong, Vespers and Compline have much to look forward to. Favourite hymns also make an appearance, including a luminous setting of Purcell’s beautiful Evening Hymn ‘Now that the sun hath veil'd his light’.
At times serene, triumphant, tranquil and playful, this challenging work makes much use of double and triple choir to achieve multi-layered effects eminently suited to the space and clarity of acoustic at St John’s. Listen carefully and, from time to time, you may even hear an angelic semichorus floating ethereally above the textured harmony.
The Cecilia Consort is a 40-strong, mixed voice choir, directed by Janet Coxwell, which performs two or three concerts a year in and around the Newbury area. Tickets cost £15 (£5 for under 18s) and are available online from www.ceciliaconsort.org.uk, or by calling 07775 743445.