Musical coincidences

Nathan Waring, one of our newer composers and Head of Music at Gresham’s Prep School in Norfolk UK, writes this post about some recent performances of his works. Follow the links to see the pieces he mentions in the CMP catalogue.

Britten’s Bell

Sitting staring at me in my office is a life-size bust of Benjamin Britten. How he came to sit in here is a long story but here he is, staring right through me, just as he was when I was researching his time at Gresham’s School. In reading Britten’s diaries and letters from his two years at the school, it is clear that the school chapel meant a great deal to him. A schoolboy friend of his once wrote that he remembered Britten climbing out the window of his boarding house to creep into chapel late at night to practise the organ. Britten’s use of hymns in works such as Noye’s Fludde and St Nicolas hints of a boy who, though not devout in a belief, has a musical understanding of the significance of the Christian musical tradition.

Whitechapel Bell

Gresham School’s chapel’s Whitechapel bell celebrates its centenary in 2015.

Thinking about this, I decided to research something other than the organ, something that perhaps would have some significance for the young Britten. The chapel bell, rung regularly during the week, was a perfect focus for a composition, particularly, as I discovered, as it was about to celebrate its 100th birthday. Given to the school by the then Headmaster J.R. Eccles (who took pleasure in reminding Britten to get his hair cut rather too regularly), the 1915 Whitechapel bell is inscribed “Ring in the Christ that is to be”, lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem Ring out, wild bells.

One hundred years after it was installed, the bell still hangs in the bell turret designed by Sir Maxwell Ayrton (of the original Wembley Stadium design), and is rung for every school service. What I could not have predicted though, as the bell was rung out during the performance of my Ring out, wild bells on 28th February 2015, was that it took exactly 100 tolls for the choir to complete the anthem. A wonderful, and most unexpected coincidence for a piece written to celebrate a bell heard by so many pupils past and present.

Remembering a First World War loss

Why is it that the past can be so emotive? What is it about the past that paints such strong pictures? A personal story can often provide the most sensitive of musical stories, as I found when researching part of my family tree; a lost great uncle, a tragic story from 1916.

Whilst a father was serving on the Western Front, his son, a Private William Pettigrew Waller, joined up for basic training in the London Scottish Regiment. Perhaps inspired by the service and courage of his father, William sailed to France in late September 1916. Exactly one month later he was dead, killed by enemy shelling of his trench.

The writing of Remembered came to me whilst sitting in a remote bay in Shetland, with words that expressed the importance of remembering the fallen to a new generation. The chorus in particular was derived from William’s surname and it was an emotional moment for me, when my youth choir performed it recently at the Royal Festival Hall, with my 10-year old son, singing in front of me. William had been remembered, by a new generation. It was a terrific bonus to the performance – a national choral competition – that saw the choir placed second in its category!

RFH choir

Nathan and the choir at the Royal Festival Hall



Posted in Composers, Education, Performances, Publications | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

And the winner is…

And the winner is St Mary’s Church Choir, Nottingham. Congratulations to them. Free copies of Jesus’ Lullaby will be sent to them, and it’ll be programmed into their Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve.

Director of Music John Keys was in Florence when we launched the Great Christmas Giveaway, and wouldn’t have seen the announcement but for singer Nick Drew, a former member of the St Mary’s choir, who drew his attention to it.

Very well done to them, and thanks to everyone for their interest in the Great Christmas Giveaway 2014!

Posted in Performances, Publications, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Looking for Jesus? Let Jesus come to you.

As celebrity endorsements go this is a pretty good one. If you’re interested in the Great Christmas Giveaway copies of Reuben Thomas’s piece Jesus’ Lullaby, but haven’t got a baritone soloist who can sing the part of Christ, then don’t worry. In true Messianic style, Reuben is offering himself, not as a libation for your sins, but as a baritone soloist to sing the part of Jesus with you. (See the competition’s terms here.)

Reuben isn’t our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – I don’t want to create that impression – but he is a professional singer, and as well as having written the piece, he also sang the part of Jesus at its first performance last year. So if you’re stuck for your own Jesus, Reuben would be ideal.

One of the consequences of Reuben’s not being the real Jesus is that his offer is subject to geographical constraints, as he can’t cross large distances in an instant (John 6:21). Depending on where you need him to manifest himself, he may ask for travelling expenses. But apart from that, he is not asking for a fee.

And unlike many of Jesus’s more high-profile followers like Padre Pio, Reuben isn’t very good at the old bilocation, so again, this offer comes subject to his actually being available when your event is programmed. But subject to those things, if he’s free, he’s free.

If you want to take Reuben up on his offer, mention it when you apply for the scores. Email to the usual address.

We are most grateful to Reuben for adding this dimension to the Great Christmas Giveaway. To be clear, this is his offer from his own generosity, rather than from ours.


Posted in Performances | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Great Chichester Music Press Christmas Giveaway 2014

Following the success of our Christmas Giveaway last year, we have decided to repeat the experience for Christmas 2014.

Jesus' Lullaby cover

Jesus’ Lullaby cover

Last year, we gave away a set of copies of David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for SSA, and it was taken on and performed by St Wilfrid’s Church choir in Bognor Regis. Last year, though, we gave the scores out with three weeks to spare before Christmas. This year, we’re doing it three whole months in advance.

Because the lucky choir that wins the scores will have so much more time to prepare the music than St Wilf’s did last year, the piece on offer is correspondingly more challenging. It’s Jesus’ Lullaby, by Reuben Thomas.

Jesus’ Lullaby is one of my favourite pieces out of all the music we do here. It’s for SATB and organ or piano, with several solo passages for soprano and baritone, who play Mary and Jesus. Mary sings the familiar mediaeval words Lullay, mine Liking, a lullaby to her new child who is also her God. Jesus answers her, though it’s not the child Jesus who speaks, but rather the adult, Jesus the missionary, and in words written by Reuben he foretells his own passion and the misery it will bring to Mary. While he doesn’t spare her the heartache, he does offer her comfort before it arrives. So, from two strikingly different perspectives, mother and child sing each other to sleep.

The music is a beautiful intertwining of Mary’s innocent and joyful with Christ’s lyrical lines. The SATB parts are atmospheric but not difficult to learn. The duration is about 4’30”, and if you don’t have anyone who can sing the baritone solos, composer and singer Reuben Thomas himself is offering his services free (see here for details).

The piece was given its first performance in December 2013 in Paris by Ensemble Vocale of the Académie Vocale de Paris under Iain Simcock, with Reuben himself as the baritone soloist and Morgane Collomb as Mary. You can hear a recording of that performance, and the score is on the link given above (and you can see a sample score if for some reason you can’t get Scorch version on the website to work).

Now look, there are some rules, and here they are:

  1. You must perform the piece in public, either in a service or a concert, in the Christmas season of 2014. It is a challenging piece, so please only throw your hat into the ring if you’re confident you can get it together and do it well in the time available. Look at the score and listen to the recording. It’s important that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, but on the other hand if you feel your choir can justice to the beautiful Jesus’ Lullaby, it’s important that you enter!
  2. You can have no more than 30 free copies. Additional copies are £3.50 each. That’s over £100 of music gifted to you. (Naturally you can’t take the free ones and photocopy any shortfall because that’s illegal and unfair, and you’re not that kind of person anyway.)
  3. If you’re based in the UK, you won’t have to pay postage either. If you’re based outside the UK, we’ll ask you to cover the postage charge, whatever that turns out to be.
  4. After the performance, please consider writing about how you found learning and performing the piece for this blog. Include a couple of photos if you can. It’ll be really interesting to hear of your experiences.
  5. Only one choir can benefit from this offer. So email to stake your claim. Please include a little information about your choir, the kind of music you normally sing, the nature (concert / service) of the performance where you envisage using Jesus’ Lullaby etc. There’s no deadline as such, but the sooner we allocate the scores, the sooner the lucky choir can get rehearsing.


Posted in Performances, Publications | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Report from the Great Christmas Giveway

A few weeks before Christmas, in fact a very few weeks before Christmas, we gave away free copies of David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for SSA to the first choir that asked for them. That choir had to undertake to perform the piece during the Christmas period, which would mean learning it from scratch in a very short space of time.

St Wilfrid’s Church choir in Bognor Regis stepped up for the challenge, performing the piece twice including at their Midnight Mass. Their director Janine Willard takes up the story:

After securing free copies of Truslove’s There is no rose, generously given to us at St Wilfrid’s, Bognor, we were really keen to make a really good go of the piece. Initially some of the singers had thought it would be impossible to sing; we were only 2 or 3 per part, and the piece contains more than one tricky moment. We spent a lot of time having separate rehearsals from the tenors and basses, so we could really work on learning it in properly. Some of the singers found that the piece was not to their taste, but as we learned it, and the harmonies became familiar, their opinion started to change. By the time we performed the piece for our Nine Lessons and Carols service, as well as Midnight Mass, all the singers really enjoyed it. We did draft in an extra voice each in the end, just to give the singers a little more confidence, and at both services, it came off beautifully, but particularly at Midnight Mass, where there were many comments afterwards regarding the beauty of the piece, as well as the delivery by the singers. We will be looking out for more Truslove!

Did someone say “Looking out for more Truslove”? Look no further!

Our thanks to Janine for writing about the choir’s experience, and also to the singers themselves for taking the bull by the horns and learning the piece in the time available. It’s a beautiful piece which obviously went down well with the Bognor Regis congregations, thanks to their efforts.

Posted in Performances | Tagged | Leave a comment

Music for education – a call for pieces

This year it is our intention at the Chichester Music Press to extend our catalogue into educational music. We already have a strong corpus of liturgical choral music, and while we will continue to bring new music to that genre, we will also be publishing music for the use of schools or of individual pupils.

This post is therefore a general call for pieces, and it’s aimed really at music educators who are also composers. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do direct them here.

We are already preparing James Humberstone‘s The Riemann Hypothesis for publication; it’s a huge-scale piece for 500 string players, all of them students, running the gamut from beginner to advanced. But we are also interested in music on a much smaller scale.

Do you write music for your students and pupils? Have you ever thought of trying to bring it to a wider audience? Maybe you have a talented chamber group at your school, a string quartet perhaps, that you’ve written music for. Or have you written songs, or larger pieces like musicals, for your school choir? The idea is, if it’s useful for your people in your setting, chances are it’ll be useful to similar groups elsewhere, and our aim is to facilitate that sharing process.

If we publish your music in this way, you will join our growing number of published composers, and you’ll earn royalties on music sold.

If you want to test the water, please email a sample of your music. We’re not promising to publish everything submitted, of course, but we’ll certainly have a very good look at everything. Scores can be sent as Sibelius files or PDF files, or get in touch if you want to ask about other file formats. Or you can send music on paper by post. Get in touch also if you have any queries at all.

Good luck!

Posted in Education, Publications | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Chichester Music Press Great Christmas Giveaway

And I do mean great!

We’ve been churning out Christmas piece after Christmas piece for a long time now, most recently Reuben Thomas’s Jesus’ Lullaby, and even though Christmas is getting very close these pieces are still finding performers (Jesus’ Lullaby is being performed in Paris on 19th December).

Our latest publication, however, is cutting it rather fine even by our standards, and it would be a confident choir that took it on at this late stage. It’s David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for unaccompanied SSA (not to be confused with his other recent setting of the same words for SATB and semichorus).

We are offering a free set of copies to the first choir to undertake to perform this new SSA setting of There Is No Rose this Christmas.

So if you know a choir that’s up to the challenge of learning a new piece in the remaining few weeks before the big day, please point them here. It’s only 3 minutes’ worth of music, filling 3 pages of score, and it’s not terribly hard so it should be doable, if you get on with it!

There are a couple of rules:

  1. You must perform the piece in public, either in a service or a concert, in the Christmas season of 2013.
  2. You can have no more than 30 copies free. Additional copies are £1.20 each. (Naturally you can’t take the free ones and photocopy any shortfall because that’s illegal and unfair, and you’re not that kind of person anyway.)
  3. If you’re based in the UK, you won’t have to pay postage either. If you’re based outside the UK, we’ll ask you to cover the postage charge, whatever that turns out to be.
  4. Please consider writing about the performance, and the process of learning the piece prior to the performance, for this blog. Include a couple of photos if you can. It’ll be really interesting to hear of your experiences.
  5. Only one choir can benefit from this offer. So email now to stake your claim.
Posted in Performances, Publications | Tagged | Leave a comment