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Wells Cathedral Choir

Wells Cathedral Choir

Mixed Choral Chorus from UK, England.

Wells Cathedral Choir has recently been hailed by Gramophone Magazine as 'probably the finest English cathedral choir at the moment' in 'world-class form'.

In December 2010 it was named by an international jury, again of Gramophone Magazine, as the sixth greatest choir in the world and the highest ranking choir with children in the world.

The choir celebrated its 1100th anniversary in 2009: boys first sang at Wells Cathedral in 909 and the full choral tradition dates back over 800 years. In 1994 the choral foundation at Wells was enriched by the addition of girl choristers. Today the choir consists of eighteen boy choristers, eighteen girl choristers and twelve Vicars Choral (the men of the choir). The boys and girls usually sing separately with the Vicars Choral but occasionally come together for larger events and tours.

The choir is at the heart of the worshipping life of the Cathedral, and sings a wide repertoire of music ranging from the masterpieces of the Renaissance period to the finest choral works of the present day. New music is also commissioned from some of today's most exciting composers, including Richard Allain, David Bednall, Judith Bingham, Geoffrey Burgon, Gabriel Jackson, James MacMillan, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (Master of the Queen's Music), Tarik O'Regan, and John Rutter. The choir sings throughout the cathedral's festival launched in June 2008: new music wells, giving a number of premiers as well as featuring music from the previous forty years.

Wells Cathedral Choir broadcasts regularly on BBC Radios 2, 3 and 4, and on television. Its innovative recordings for Hyperion Records and Regent Records have won international praise: 'wonderfully blended, and must rank as one of the top cathedral sounds outside London' (BBC Music Magazine); 'currently enjoing a superb top line' (The Observer), and has had two recent discs make Editor's Choice in Gramophone Magazine.

As well as the liturgical musical repertoire the choir performs larger scale choral works in concert, with recent collaborations including The King's Consort (Bach, St Matthew Passion), the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Britten War Requiem), Jools Holland and his band (Jools Holland Mass), Wells Cathedral Oratorio Society (Britten St Nicholas), Aled Jones, and Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra (at a Royal Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). The choir has toured extensively both in the UK and abroad; with recent tours to Paris (2006) where it gave three concerts and sang Mass to over 3000 people in Notre-Dame Cathedral, the North West of England (2008) and Germany (2009). This season it has toured to the Netherlands (December 2010).

Discography

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Wells Cathedral Choir : Burgon: Choral Music : 00  1 CD : Matthew Owens : Geoffrey Burgon : CDA 67567

Wells Cathedral Choir : Burgon: Choral Music

Review: British composer Geoffrey Burgon has managed to carve out a career as a composer without becoming pigeonholed into a particular genre or musical style. He is perhaps best known for his scores for Monty Python's Life of Brian, and BBC's Brideshead Revisited, and an excerpt from his score for the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy appeared on Britain's Top Ten pop charts. He is equally at home writing for voice and chorus, and a significant part of his catalog is devoted to choral music, some of which is collected on this CD. Burgon's graceful and idiomatic choral writing makes use of contemporary harmonies, but his musical language is basically tonal, rooted in centuries of liturgical tradition; as the program notes aptly describe it, it "manages to sound both timeless and strikingly modern." "At the round earth's imagined corners," using a text by John Donne, and his setting of the Nunc Dimittis are particularly effective in their conjuring of mystery and complex emotion using very simple musical means. The Wells Cathedral Choir, a men and girls choir, conducted by Matthew Owens and accompanied by organist David Bednall, gives unaffected and direct performances, singing with pure and rapt tone. The soloists, members of the Choir, are of variable quality. Hyperion's sound is spacious, but not too resonant to obscure the comprehensibility of the texts.

Songlist: At The Round Earth's Imagined Corners, The Assumption, Short Mass, Of Flowers and Emeralds Sheen, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, As The Angels Stood, Apple Blossom, The Corpus Christi Carol, The Song of the Creatures, Death Be Not Proud, Come Let Us Pity Not the Dead, Te Deum, Nunc dimmittis

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9009c | 00 1 CD | $18.95 English Choral CDs


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