Treble-only Responses

Complementing the four evening services for trebles we currently have in the catalogue, we also have three treble-only settings of the Preces and Responses. Here’s a quick low-down on what’s available.

OLordNormally of course you’d expect the Responses not to be accompanied, but when you’re writing for possibly a single line of voices, it makes sense to have some form of accompaniment as well.

John Hosking’s Festal Responses: This set, for two-part trebles and organ, was written originally for the trebles at St Asaph Cathedral. As is often the case with Hosking, a fairly straightforward task for the singers is coupled with something more taxing for the organist. He writes:

The organ part should be registered colourfully to depict the dramatic, changing tone of the text… The vocal parts are largely straightforward, with the odd tricky corner that would need a little extra work. The livelier responses should be sung with a good sense of articulation and the more reflective parts with a good sense of legato and shape.

Gareth Hemmings’ Preces and Responses is officially scored for SSA, but can be sung by SSS easily enough as the alto is not too low, going no lower than Bb, and spending most of the piece somewhat higher than that. It was written originally for the girls of Polyphonic, the chapel choir of Old Palace of John Whitgift School. It’s unaccompanied.

This setting stands out for its expressive dissonance between the upper two parts, and although it’s therefore a bit more challenging for the singers than the Hosking, it should be well within the reach of a good school choir used to singing in harmony, and the final amen is exquisite!

Finally, Ben Costello’s Preces And Responses 4th set, for a single treble line and organ, with only one tiny division for the trebles. The manageable organ part supports the singers and also provides colour for the more dramatic parts of the text. The composer notes especially that this setting would work well in any parish experiencing a shortage of singers, so if that sounds like you then this might be the place to start.

As always, just ask if you want to see a sample score of any of the pieces mentioned.


About Neil Sands

Director of the Chichester Music Press. Astronomer.
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