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Chichester Music Press: Phos Hilaron

Two terrific new pieces for you this time.

Phos Hilaron – A song of the light – Robert Fielding (pictured)

This is a setting of O gladdening light for unaccompanied SSATB, as sung by the RSCM Millennium Youth Choir and broadcast on the BBC’s Choral Evensong programme from Romsey Abbey. The text is the oldest hymn still in use, and was considered ‘old’ by St Basil the Great, who himself died in 379AD.

This whirlwind of a piece has a wonderfully exciting rhythmical drive, and harmonic colours derived from the text.

View the score and have a listen at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/phoshilaron

I say unto you which hear – Martyn Noble
For SATB and organ.

Text from St Luke’s Gospel, containing the vivid passage “And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again”. The music contrasts the distinction between good and evil by varying tempo, volume and dissonance.

View the score and have a listen at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/isayuntoyouwhichhear


Chichester Music Press: a new publication by Rosemary Field

Please see the linked page below for this new publication: Veni Creator Spiritus by Rosemary Field (formerly sub-organist at Portsmouth Cathedral). It’s a fusion of traditional plainsong and a George Herbert text from 1633. The piece was written for what was then the Parish Choir at Portsmouth Cathedral, about 20 years ago.

Rosemary Field is the outgoing Deputy Director for Education of the RSCM, having previously held appointments in the dioceses of Portsmouth and Lincoln. She is a very experienced organist and choir trainer. I have two newly-published pieces by her to tell you about.

Veni Creator Spiritus is a clever fusion of the plainsong hymn with a text by George Herbert (The Starre). The texts are complementary and contrasted. That contrast is mirrored in the music; there are moments of word-painting and a few harmonic surprises, mostly to colour particular syllables. There is one very short de-synchronised moment where recitative style in the tenor part is set between regular note-values. The overall effect is layered and rhapsodic.

Then O Emmanuel is based on the last Advent (Magnificat) Antiphon, O Emmanuel. It centres on an insistently-building chorus of “Veni” as fits the calendar moment, contrasted with solid chordal writing for the ‘King and lawgiver’ line, and framed by imitative reflections on the opening phrase of the plainsong. It would suit a late-Advent service, form a pivot-point between prophecies and a Gospel reading, or sit in the classic pre-Evensong slot, being a cappella.

Read about Neil Sands and Chichester Music Press.


An interview with Neil Sands, founder of Chichester Music Press

Why was Chichester Music Press founded by you in 2003?

Chichester Music Press (CMP) was originally a vehicle for me to publish my own music. I’d not had any success trying to interest publishers in my music. Then one day, in the bath actually, it occurred to me that I had the skills to be able to publish myself. I was already working as a freelance music typesetter, having served an 18-month apprenticeship to learn the art. This is different from merely being a musician who owns Sibelius. I also had the skills to build a functional website, which was a different proposition in 2003 from today. I wrote all the HTML by hand and programmed the scripts which handle the shop and the catalogue myself. Once I had a website functioning as a shop window, very soon other composers wanted to come on board. Now there are nearly 40 of us!

What does CMP do?

The CMP publishes new choral music for liturgical use, which usually means small-scale pieces which can be used in C of E or RC services. The first part of the job is to select which music to take on, from the wealth of music offered to me. I can’t take it all – there’s simply too much of it.

Next, I prepare an edition from the score supplied by the composer. Usually these are in PDF format, but I can take Sibelius, Finale, Musescore or my favourite Dorico. I always typeset them again completely from scratch, for two reasons: one, because it allows me to have a consistent set of house styles which are recognisably CMP, and two because with the best will in the world composers are not routinely schooled in music typography, and there are always blemishes to fix!

Once my edition is ready it gets proofread by the composer. Then I prepare an audio version, using Dorico’s own sounds and Voices of Prague, and that ends up on the website alongside the catalogue entry for the piece. For any new score you can sit down at the website and read the score through and hear the audio I’ve made (or in some cases I’m able to use a real live performance), so you can always see and hear exactly what you’re buying. This is a bonus, because ordinarily you wouldn’t expect to be able to peruse an entire score on a publisher’s website, so you are to an extent buying blind.

Once a piece is ready, it’s time to tell the world, through my mailing list and through posts on social media, and hopefully the word begins to spread.

What is special (or unique) about CMP? Why do composers like to work with CMP?

Because I am small, I can move quickly. I’m proud of how fast I can turn a score around sometimes, if a composer approaches me to publish some music in time for a performance that’s already in the diary. I always have a lot of pieces in the queue, but I can bump things to the front if they’re needed in a hurry. Thanks to my background as a trained typesetter I can produce a nice, swish, professional-looking score quickly and efficiently.

What kinds of music does it tend to specialise in?

The CMP publishes new music aimed at church and cathedral choirs. Most of the composers work in church music, as organists or as the directors of cathedral choirs etc. We have a very healthy set of mass settings and canticles for evensong available, and these are the mainstay of church and cathedral choir repertoire. But I like to concentrate on more unusual music, for example settings of lesser-known texts to be sung as introits or anthems. These aren’t always specifically religious, by the way – some of them are secular but useful nevertheless in Christian worship, for example for Remembrance.

Have there been any milestones during the history of CMP – composers “launched, and so on?

I knew I was onto something special when I published an evening service by Francis Jackson, his St Bride’s Service. Francis has been a giant in the world of choral music for many decades, and we published St Bride’s on his 100th birthday in 2017. He’s still going strong at the age of 103. I was absolutely over the moon to bring his St Bride’s Service to the world. He’d written it for the choir of St Bride’s Church in London in the 1970s, but I’ve been able to make it available more widely for the first time.

Which composers would you like our readers to be especially aware of right now?

Some of my recent signings are Charles Paterson, Rosemary Field, Simon Mold, Sarah MacDonald, Graham Keitch and Alastair Borthwick. You can read the list here.

What else do you do in your spare time? 

I play the organ and direct the choir at St Richard’s Church in Chichester. Since a recent illness I bizarrely can no longer sing alto, and the opportunities to do so during the pandemic are few and far between anyway. Outside music, I am a keen astronomer, and at the moment am taking as many photos as I can of features on the moon. The weather has not been favourable for that in recent months, however!

Neil Sands, a professional music typesetter, founded Chichester Music Press in 2003. He studied Composition at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and subsequently at the University of Wales in Bangor.

Neil plays the organ and directs the choir at St Richard’s Church in Chichester. He has sung with Chichester’s Chantry Quire, and sang for a year with Chichester Cathedral choir as a countertenor. More recently, he has sung as a dep with Portsmouth Cathedral choir.

He has also been Musical Director of Bognor Regis Choir, and of Chichester Amateur Operatic Society, mounting Annie Get Your Gun in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre. Previously, he was the conductor of the Portsmouth University Choral Union, the University of Wales’ Aberystwyth Elizabethan Madrigal Singers, and Aberystwyth’s Showtime Singers.

Neil has taught music composition at Chichester’s Prebendal School, as well as teaching music theory, composition and piano to private pupils. He’s done some programming for Sibelius, and several of his plugins ship with the program. He served as Technical Editor for the Sibelius tutor book Sibelius 7 Music Notation Essentials. He has also worked as an English and Welsh teacher, and as a newsreader for Radio Manhattan in Łódź in Poland.


Chichester Music Press: Motets for unaccompanied SATB – introducing composer Charles Paterson

I would like to introduce you to the music of Charles Paterson, and in particular to shine a spotlight on his four motets on texts by George Herbert. Charles was a teacher and conductor for many years in the Leicester area before moving to the Isle of Wight, where he maintains a busy schedule as an organist. His work has recently been published on Chichester Music Press.

All these motets are for unaccompanied SATB (Antiphon is SSATBB).

Virtue 
Virtue (Sweet day) was written in 2014 in response to a commission from Fr Simon Lumby for his choir 8ctave, whose singers are mainly serving priests in the Diocese of Leicester. The poem’s imagery of the cool day, the bright rose, and spring with its promise of sweetness offer opportunities for contrast, while all come to the same end: only virtue is everlasting.

You can peruse the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/virtue.

Matins
This is perhaps a less familiar poem than Virtue, in which the poet muses on his, and thus all humanity’s, relationship with God, and his redemption. The music in the main part of this setting reflects the sequence of thoughts, and so in performance should seem not too smooth in the joins between sections. With the final prayer, though, there is a recapitulation of the music from the beginning, and this should build to the exultant conclusion.

See and hear the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/matins.

Heaven
This is a poem unusual in form, where each question about the nature of heaven is answered by an echo, so that the question really answers itself. The setting reflects this idea, with the lower voices as the questioner and the upper voices as the echo, which should be as hushed as possible. The final question then leads to a triumphant echo from all voices, the loudest section of the piece, which gradually diminishes to a single note which fades into eternity.

Hear and see the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/heaven.

Antiphon
This poem is much the most familiar of the four, being found in most hymn books, and in settings by other composers. Here the refrain is in the style of a fanfare, and it continues as a background to the similarly energetic verses, except for the section ‘But above all, the heart Must play the longest part’: this is hushed to start with and more lyrical, until the fanfare refrain returns to end the piece.

Hear and see the score at http://chichestermusicpress.co.uk/antiphon.

If you have any queries about any of these four, please contact me.

Many thanks for your support. Church music has been rather muted over the last year but composers are still hard at work!

Charles Paterson was born in Ipswich in 1954, and was singing, playing and writing music from an early age. After a Classics degree at Cambridge, he taught at Tiffin School, Kingston upon Thames and then at Leicester Grammar School, where for twenty-five years he was director of the school choir, while also being involved in various local choirs as conductor and/or singer. Since moving to the Isle of Wight in 2018 he has been appointed Music Director of chamber choirs Cantus Vesperi and the Orpheus Singers, and is also active as organist in various churches around the island.

His compositions and arrangements have inevitably mostly been for choirs (several being recorded in 2016 by Leicester Cathedral Chamber Choir), but also include solo songs, chamber music, and music for organ (some of which has been published by fagusmusic.com). The Concertino for Descant Recorder and String Orchestra (published by Peacock Press) has received several performances, and has been recorded by John Turner, with the Manchester Sinfonia under Philip Spratley. Commissions have included a Christmas carol for the Richard III Society, and Christmas is Coming!, a short cantata for choir, children’s choir and piano duet, for Stamford Choral Society. His website can be found at www.charlespaterson.co.uk.


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