In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
The English choral conductor and organist, Murray Forbes Somerville, was born in London and raised in Rhodesia. He studied studied under Karl Richter in Munich, Germany, at the Oxford University (where he was Organ Scholar of New College, under Sir David Lumsden), under Robert Baker at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Murray Forbes Somerville is noted as choral and orchestral conductor, organ recitalist on three continents, workshop leader and scholar. He served St. James's Church in West Hartford, Connecticut, and the Cathedral of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida, where he also founded the Orlando Deanery Boychoir. In 1990 he was appointed as the Harvard's sixth University Organist and Choirmaster, a post he held until 2003. In this post he presented regular recitals, directed the University Choir and played for services in Memorial Church. As curator of the University Organs, he also overseen the recital series on the Flentrop organ in Busch Hall and the Fisk instrument in Memorial Church. He is an authority on the music of John Knowles Paine, his nineteenth century Harvard predecessor, who was the subject of his doctoral research. Formerly Music Director of the Bach Festival at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, he also served as Chorus-master to the Florida Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Orlando Opera Company. In Fall 2003 he took up his position as Director of Music at St. George's Episcopal Church. He has presented recitals in such places as Westminster Abbey and the Methuen (Massachusetts) Memorial Music Hall, and conducted conducting major symphony orchestras.
In 1987, Murray Forbes Somerville was honoured for his work as church and Cathedral musician by being named an Associate of Britain's Royal School of Church Music; he has led RSCM courses and workshops throughout the USA. The American Record Guide has described his organ recordings as "incomparable," while European critics hailed his direction of the Harvard University Choir as " a demonstration of perfection in choral singing."
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Review: The echoes of carols have been heard through Harvard Yard since 1910, when Archibald Davison, newly-appointed University Organist and Choirmaster, and Edward Moore, Prof. of Christian Morals, designed the order of service still used every year. Directed by Murray F. Somerville, and accompanied by The Bach Society Orchestra and an organist, there are 25 songs on "Carols," telling the story of Jesus' birth in song. Some favorites-"Adeste Fideles," Charles Calahan's "Come Rejoicing, Praises Voicing,," the spiritual "Mary Had A Baby," "In The Bleak Mid-Winter," "Sing Lullaby," "Jesus, Jesus, rest your head" and "Joy to the World." A beautifully sung and spoken Christmas story. Accompaniment on some songs.
Review: The 43-strong Harvard University Choir is maintained by the University to sing great choral literature in the Memorial Church Sunday services, to perform in the annual Carol Services and concerts of major choral works. Recently the choir has toured to great acclaim in England and Germany. Here are 19 organ-accompanied sacred songs and hymns: "Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis," "The Lord Is My Light," "Shaker Hymn," "The Song of Deborah," "Jesus So Lowly," "Evening Hymn"... they're all lovely and perfectly performed. "Lo, there is light!" is an inspirational CD of great spiritual power and joy!
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