what fruite of immortality is a project that I’m working on with conductor/singer/early music scholar Graham Beir. It is a response to an English psalter written by the Archbishop Matthew Parker in the 16th Century, and which Thomas Tallis set to music. Graham is creating an edition of the Tallis and editing the text of the piece and I am composing responses which will be threaded with the Tallis in a large scale work as part of the Sir Jack Lyons Concert. The commission was awarded as the Sir Jack Lyons Celebration Award.
The piece is to be for The 24, string ensemble and percussion, and is to be 9 movements long, based on the structure of a poem within the Psalter which describes the different types of psalms:
~ 1 The first is méeke: deuout to sée,
\ 2 The second sad: in maiesty.
\ 3 The third doth rage: and roughly brayth.
/ 4 The fourth doth fawne: and flattry playth,
/ 5 The fyfth delight: and laugheth the more,
\ 6 The sixt bewayleth: it wéepeth full sore,
\ 7 The seuenth tredeth stoute: in froward race,
~ 8 The eyghte goeth milde: in modest pace. (Epilogue)
Today rehearsals underway with the prologue in which the choir sing a series of chords based on the tonal schema of Tune 3 (the tune which Vaughan Williams famously set in his Fantasia on Thomas Tallis). Unusually as a singer with The 24, I was able to take the conducting stand for the first rehearsal, which was fantastic! The performers are excellent and it’s a great pleasure to conduct such a responsive choir. Most of them can sight-read to a very high standard and the rehearsal went very smoothly.
I hope they like the material! If there’s anything that made me nervous coming up to the rehearsal (and I was petrified) it was that the choir wouldn’t like the material and I’d have a hard time getting them to perform it. They seemed to like it though (I hope!).
The process of collaboration is working very well, as Graham is taking a good equal role in staging and presenting the material, and the pacing of the rehearsals is working out and giving me the luxury of being able to try things out before I set them in stone. Need to start writing some more of it now!