Even You Song
December 2017, First Hand Records
Cheryl Frances-Hoad - Even You Song: an Evensong-inspired work for choir and organ
Where Does Your Faith Lie? (Organ Voluntary)
Prayers of Penitence
Taking Your Leave (Organ Voluntary)
Peterborough Cathedral Choir, St. Augustine's Junior School Choir, Bishop Creighton Academy Choir, West Town Primary Academy Choir, William Law CE Primary School Choir, Steven Grahl (conductor),
David Humphreys (organ)
The world premiere of Even You Song took place at Peterborough Cathedral on 16 February 2017 at 6.30pm following the re-pitching of its organ from ‘Old Philharmonic’ to ‘Standard’ concert pitch.
As part of their residency at Metal Peterborough artist Bettina Furnée and writer Lucy Sheerman created a choral work based on candid responses from a series of interviews with twelve Peterborough couples about a potential trip to the moon. Excised, edited and rearranged, these form the basis of a new libretto, which reflects the format of Evensong. The words of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis remain unchanged. The work incorporates digital projections of domestic interiors, captured during the interviews.
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"In July 2015, Peterborough Cathedral’s 1894 Hill and Son organ was dismantled and taken to workshop to be re-pitched from ‘Old Philharmonic’ to ‘Standard’ concert pitch. This complex operation took 18 months. By February 2017 the old instrument was back in situ. To mark its return, artist Bettina Furnée and writer Lucy Sheerman devised an extraordinary multi-disciplinary collaboration with the composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad based on those two naturally overlapping (?) phenomena Evensong and space travel. The present disc incorporates Frances-Hoad’s 52 minute musical contribution to this event, the oddly but appropriately titled Even You Song.
The word ‘Anthem’ scarcely does justice to this extraordinary movement. Let me quote Ateş Orga’s pithy description from the notes, which gives something of its flavour (and is worthy of a setting for unaccompanied choir in itself): “…a dramatized aggregation of solo star-glints, mass tuttis, homophonic fields, pianistic organ figurations, dissonances, Lydian tones, unpitched sounds, rhythmic mischief, the aleatorically unpredictable, Schumannesque fade-outs” Ultimately this melange convincingly evokes the silence of space, the sound of one’s heart-beating (most tellingly in the weird organ-pedal accompaniment), running water and radio-waves; there is blowing, tongue-clicking; whistling and lots of whooshing. It shouldn’t work, but it certainly does in this context. It must have been incredibly challenging but great fun to perform.
Listening to this for a third time I really wanted to applaud. It must have been a pretty unforgettable experience to have been in the audience, even more so to have been among the performers, who excel. As ever, Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s music is frequently challenging, always original and sometimes deeply moving. The whole undertaking seems to have been an unqualified success, and I wholeheartedly commend this disc to one and all."
Richard Hanlon, MusicWeb International
"Where does your faith lie?, the organ voluntary at the outset, immediately sets a brooding atmosphere of questioning and mystery. The Preces and Responses give the children's choirs participating in the project responses which are eminently singable wihtout being vapid. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, mainly unaccompanied, are vivid, memorable settings, and could easily be excised from Even You Song for use in the conventional evensong service. Musically and dramatically the high point of the work is Anthem, where Frances-Hoad marshals an imaginative clutch of vocal effects to evoke the weightless sounds and sensations of the outer space environment."
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine
"Frances Hoad's score was large scale, she had set the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, along with the Preces and Responses, created psalms and settings for the new collects, plus a long anthem, a hymn along with organ voluntaries. A striking and substantial achievement, Even You Song is sui generis, and a description hardly does it justice. All at Peterborough Cathedral music be congratulated on having the vision to take part."
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
"The assembled choirs all acquit themsleves with honour under the leadership of Steven Grahl."
Choir and Organ Magazine