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The organist is invited to pull all the stops out for the brilliant opening and ending of this celebration of all things wonderful. Antiphon rightly means a composition sung alternatively by two choirs, but the feeling of this is created in the one choir by the use of canon, which brings the cycle to a rumbustious conclusion.
(Programme-note by the composer, Copyright Howard Blake 2007)
Songs of Truth and Glory were commissioned for the Three Choirs Festival by The Elgar Chorale for their twenty-fifth anniversary season with funds provided by The Elgar Foundation and first performed on August 8th 2005 at The Three Choirs Festival Worcester by The Elgar Chorale and Camerata conducted by Donald Hunt.
George Herbert was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College Cambridge where he was a major fellow and Reader in Rhetoric. However, despite prestigious beginnings, he abandoned secular ambitions and took holy orders, spending the rest of his life as rector in the village of Bemerton near Salisbury, preaching and writing poetry. He was a skilled musician, often playing the lute and singing his own verses, for which purpose they seem ideally suited. They appear to be simple, yet the thoughts with which he wrestled are profound and explore and celebrate the ways of God’s love as Herbert discovered them within the fluctuations of his own experience. They are characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility and an ingenious use of imagery. He is sometimes compared with John Donne, who was a close friend of his, yet he is more ecclesiastical than ‘metaphysical’. Some years ago I discussed him with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who considered George Herbert ‘the greatest of all hymn-writers’.
|12th November 2015||Canticum Choir conducted by Mark Forkgen, St. Paul's Knightsbridge
JUBILATE DEO (choir & organ - Opus 406* commissioned by Abington Presbyterian Church, Penn. USA 1990)
FESTIVAL MASS (a cappella 8-part double choir - Opus 377* commissioned by The Three Choirs Festival, Worcester 1987)
THE RISE OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (organ solo - Opus 532* (commissioned for Dame Gillan Weir by The Usher Hall, Edinburgh 2003)
WALKING IN THE AIR (a cappella choir - Opus 585* commissioned by the Stockholm Boys Choir 2007)
MOTET: GOD BE MERCIFUL UNTO US AND BLESS US (a cappella choir - Opus 494 - commissioned by St. Margaret's Westminster & 1st performed there in 1996)
STILL FALLS THE RAIN (choir & organ - Opus 495* - commissioned by Chester Bach Singers 1997)
A TOCCATA OF GALUPPI'S (solo voice & harpsichord - Opus 263 - commissioned and 1st performed by Michael Leighton Jones, baritone with Howard Blake, harpsichord, on BBC Radio 3 1978 - 1st London concert performance)
SONGS OF TRUTH AND GLORY (choir & organ - Opus 546* - The Elgar Commission for the Worcester Three Choirs Festival 2005)
* = 1st London performance
|28th June 2008||The Reigate and Redhill Society conducted by Peter Farrant, Dorking Halls Surrey
A programme of English music (Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Jenkins) in celebration of Howard Blake's 70th Birthday
|12th May 2007||Sussex Chorus conducted by Neil Jenkins, Lancing College Chapel|
|9th March 2007||Elgar Chorale, Donald Hunt, Leeds Parish Church|
|8th August 2005||The Elgar Chorale and Camerata with Adrian Partington(organ), conducted by Donald Hunt, St. Martin's, Worcester as part of The Three Choirs Festival
Following the concert the composer and Dame Janet Baker both gave speeches at the Festival Society lunch.
'The other Elgar Chorale commission (in the programme) was Howard Blake's 'Songs of Truth and Glory', five settings of well-known poems by George Herbert - all settings primarily for chorus, in contrast with Vaughan-Williams' solo-led 'Mystical Songs' - hymnic in character, but each a charmingly turned, sparkling miniature.
The tenors' opening to 'Come my way' was outstanding, and the choir's a cappella launch to 'Teach me my God and King'' sounded equally pure. Simple in essence these may be, but these five songs proved shrewdly varied and utterly delightful. For the last, 'Let all the world' the organ seemed to embark on a tongue-in-cheek Handel organ concerto: both entrancing and effective.'
Roderic Dunnettt, Church Times, 9/3/2007