If Music be the food of Love…..Play on Give me excess of it.




Below is an article that appeared in Liverpool Cathedral "Life" magazine yesterday. As you can see it says more info is available here…..so here it is…

Buying new music doesn’t mean "new" music, although it might! Recent additions to the music library at the Cathedral have included works by Byrd, Tallis, Bach, Poulenc, Langlais, Howells; well there had to be Howells didn’t there? News to me we didn’t carry his entire oeuvre already! 

One new work was especially commissioned last year for the Cathedral Choir from John McCabe, and in fact this commission was very kindly sponsored by two members of the congregation.

Obviously, with six Evensong services every week, a large amount of music is required. Although settings and anthems can be and are, rotated, no choir likes to sing the same music week in week out, and it’s not very good for musical development either. In addition, just as with “pop” music, Church music goes in and out of fashion, and there is much in the music library now, which seemed like good stuff at the time, but would now be regarded as trite or naff.  Tastes, Deans, Precentors and Directors of Music change, and what was once anathema, is now all the rage, and vice versa. Hence the need to purchase new settings and anthems on a regular basis.

But as explained below, a full set of music is expensive, and in these cash strapped times, it is recognised that many people who would otherwise like to become involved, either are not in a position to do so, or would find it hard to justify the expense when so many worthy causes such as St George’s Bagdad, are also in need of support.  Thus was born the idea that we should all club together to provide a sort of “people’s music sponsorship”. You can do this for yourself, or as an unusual gift for someone who loves the Cathedral’s music output.  If you have a particular favourite setting or anthem, why not contact the music department to discuss it with them?

The second project, the commissioning of a new work to mark the centenary of the Lady Chapel, is part of the Cathedral’s wider commitment to the Arts. In the past, significant anniversaries in the Life of the Cathedral have been marked by the commissioning of a new work for the choir to perform at the event in question. Thus for the celebrations to mark both the silver jubilee of the Cathedral’s completion and it’s centenary, Sir John Tavener provided his first Mass setting, the At Ma Mass, which drew on Anglican, Orthodox and Sanskrit rites and scripture for its inspiration. On a much smaller scale that year, the Lay Clerks clubbed together to commission Humphrey Clucas to provide a new Evensong setting for Men’s voices.

At present no composer has been identified for the commission. Given that the Centenary celebrations will focus on the Lady Chapel’s “Noble Women”,  seeking a work from a female composer (Jillian Weir?) is one possibility.  A theme is also up for grabs. One highly placed suggestion (you know who you are) was for the following poem by Archbishop  Rowan Williams to be set as a new work for the Advent season (for which season there are few new works).

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.


He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.


He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.


He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.


Should you feel inspired by it, and have the requisite skill, why not try setting it yourself?


So there you have it. Should you be interested in becoming involved in either or both of these projects, please contact Rose Barton (details below). If you would like further information I can be contacted either via the website or email address below. All contributions of whatever size, will be very welcome indeed. Thank you.


“If music be the food of Love, play on, give me excess of it”

But you can never have an excess of music at the Cathedral can you?  It plays a major part in almost every service; be it a mid week Evensong, or the Holly Bough Carol Service.

There have been several requests for music sponsorship over the last year or so, and many of you have responded very generously.  However, we realize that a set of music is not cheap.  Why is this?  In order to provide sufficient copies for choristers, Lay Clerks, Director of Music and Organist, over forty copies of every piece of music performed have to be purchased, hence the cost.

Have you perhaps thought that you would like to sponsor some music, but have drawn back? Now is your chance!  There are two projects that require your help:

The Lady Chapel Centenary in 2010: Sponsorship is needed in order to commission a new work to commemorate this milestone.  It is hoped that the new work will be the centrepiece of the celebrations.  Given the cost, we hope that as many of you s possible will become involved in this project.  In order that David Poulter has some idea how much money he has available for the commission, it would be very helpful if you are interested in making a contribution if you could contact Rosemary Barton in the music department (telephone 0151 702 7287 email rosemary.barton@liverpoolcathedral.org.uk ) to indicate your interest.

Our second project is directly linked to Evensong.  This service is sung every day in the Cathedral, apart from Wednesday, and requires a huge amount of music throughout the year.  Each service requires a set of Responses, Canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and Anthem.  Now obviously all of these  can be sung more than once a year, but  new repertoire is always good, expands the choir’s abilities, and is very good for morale: no one likes singing the same stuff all the time; fresh challenges keep ‘em keen!  So in order to obtain some new music, but not at huge expense to anyone, we would like to invite you to consider becoming involved in congregational sponsorship.  Under this scheme, as many people as possible are invited to make a contribution, small or large, whatever you can afford; with Christmas bearing down upon us, why not sponsor the music in someone’s name as a gift for them?  Ideally we would raise enough to buy the music for a whole service! You will be invited to attend to hear your music receive its very first performance in the Cathedral.  If this idea appeals, please contact Rosemary Barton (telephone 0151 702 7287).

Further details can be found on http://choral-evensong.spaces.live.com

Nädine Daniel [choral.evensong@googlemail.com]


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