SE WALES, UK — An 88-year-old retired Rhondda miner has been
celebrating his half-century singing with Treorchy Male Choir.
Reg Stephens from Ystrad was presented with an inscribed gold
wristwatch during the choir’s annual concert at the Parc and Dare
Since joining Treorchy Male Choir in 1960 Reg has appeared in
more than 1,500 concerts.
He began singing as a child and spent ten years with Morgannwg
Gleemen before they disbanded in 1959.
Reg first sang in his local chapel and later he became an active
member of Madam Danford George’s well-known operatic society.
After leaving school at the age of 15 Reg began working
underground at the Fernhill colliery.
Despite suffering several accidents he remained at the same pit
for 45 years before retiring.
He joined Treorchy Male Choir in 1960 with his friend Len
One of Toronto’s exceptional, under-the-radar classical
musicians is Stephanie Martin, director of music at the Church of
St. Mary Magdalene, director of the Pax Christi Chorale and
professor of organ, harpsichord and music history at York
University. She is also an accomplished composer.
The latest fruit of her labours is a new disc that has her
imprimatur all over it: Alleluia: Sacred Choral Works by Stephanie
Martin. She is the composer, the conductor of the church choirs and
the producer of the CD.
Martin and the choristers launch the disc at 3 p.m. today with a
concert at St. Mary Magdalene, 477 Manning Ave. (at Ulster St.).
Admission is $25. Besides a short concert, the afternoon includes
the first screening of a new Bravo! video featuring the all-female
Schola Magdalena choir.
I’ve listened to the disc a half-dozen times. It’s a quiet,
modulated treat. The magic in Martin’s music is how it serves its
intended purpose: to enhance the worship experience without
intruding into it, and sound timeless without being totally
There are no bold dynamics, no vocal trickery, to hey-look-at-me
technical feats here, just carefully wrought close harmonies that
pay homage to the Plainsong tradition and the emphasis of text over
melody that are an integral part of the St. Mary Magdalene
experience. The gentle push-and-pull between consonance and
dissonance is very much also in the tradition of Healey Willan’s
musical legacy at the church, which Martin honours without being a
slave to it.
As someone who has sung and worked in churches for most of my
life, I have nothing but admiration for Martin’s
There are straightforward anthems, such as “Hear My Prayer,”
settings covering specific liturgical needs, including the Ordinary
of the Mass and the Kontakion, and tidy little motets such as “Ave
The choirs are beautifully balanced and delicately directed,
providing a not-quite-of-this-world effect. I prefer my music and
the way it is sung to be a bit more earthly, but Martin’s selection
of pieces for this disc comes together as a fantastic meditative
break at the end of a stressful day or week — whether or not you
make any spiritual connection with the texts.
Cypress Choral Music is a small publishing company (Vancouver) dedicated to bringing fine Canadian choral music to the world. Please visit cypresschoral.com Browse through our music via composer or through our catalogue of octavos. You will be able to hear good recordings of our publications and view the scores. One of our new pieces – Four Strong Winds (click on the title).
Angels From Heaven Came
New CD From Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral Choir
Just in time for the expectation of Advent and the joys of Christmas, Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral Choir has released their newest recording, a collection of music for this festive season. A compilation of music recorded either for CBC’s recording of the Cathedral’s Advent Lessons and Carols service in 2002, or as submissions for the CBC Choral Competition, all tracks share an unusual commonality in that they are unedited. The Cathedral Choir is extremely grateful to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, whose kind permission made this disc possible.
The Cathedral Choir has won their category in the CBC Choral Competition each time they have entered: 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2006. In 2006 they also received a competition-wide prize for the Best Performance of a Canadian Work; that work was Jonathan Quick’s Angels From Heaven Came.
The music ranges from the short but perfect O Radix Jesse by Healey Willan to extended works such as Rupert Lang’s How Like an Angel and Herbert Howell’s Long, Long Ago, and from polyphony by Palestrina and Sweelinck to modern works such as the title track.
Five of the thirteen works on the CD are by Canadian composers, including Healey Willan, Matthew Larkin, Diane Loomer, Jonathan Quick, and the Cathedral’s own Rupert Lang. Only two selections are accompanied; Peter Hallock’s Behold a Mighty Prophet includes handbells, and Lang’s How Like an Angel, which includes piano and organ.
The choir has opted for an environmentally friendly packaging approach. Instead of the usual CD booklet, listeners are directed to a web page that not only lists the usual track information, texts, and translations, but also includes resources for conductors, such as score information and direct links to publisher’s sites. The choir intends the page to become a living repository or material based on the CD, with plans to add videos, notes, and more.
1. Behold, a Mighty Prophet Peter Hallock 7:34
2. Rorate Caeli William Byrd 2:56
3. O Radix Jesse Healey Willan 1:12
4. Psalm 134 Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 1:57
5. Long, Long Ago Herbert Howells 4:52
6. Hodie Christus Natus Est Francis Poulenc 2:21
7. Adam Lay Y Bounden Matthew Larkin 3:32
8. How Like an Angel Rupert Lang 7:39
9. Remember O Thou Man Thomas Ravenscroft 2:50
10. Ave Maris Stella Diane Loomer (arr.) 2:47
11. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen Michael Praetorius 3:17
12. Angels from Heaven Came Jonathan Quick 6:26
13. Hodie Christus Natus Est Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 3.03
= Canadian composer. Total Time: 50.26
“It was a windy and rainy night in the late summer of 1991 when I wrote Adam lay ybounden. It was one of those late summer rains that I used to love when I lived in Victoria, and the sound of the weather on the roof of St. John’s Church was just amazing. That was the aural backdrop for a lot of my writing in those days, and I haven’t felt the same kind of creativity since. Hearing the sound of Rupert’s choir as they so elegantly and thoughtfully sing my modest carol just brings back floods of memories – voices, faces, places – about a time in my life that I recall so vividly and poignantly. My attraction to this poem (and it’s somewhat more modern partner, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree) has always been based in the reminder that, wow, if it hadn’t been for the events in the Garden of Eden, there would be, arguably, no sin, and if there were no sin, there would be no Holy Redeemer. Where would we be then?
I know that every time I have been fortunate enough either to work with Rupert, the Cathedral Choir, or simply just to have the opportunity to hear you, I have been struck with the consummate artistry and musicality with which the group performs. Above even that is the sense of the Holy that you evoke, and I can feel that holiness with every crafted phrase that you sing. Thank-you for so graciously including my work in your Christmas offering. The entire recording is magnificent, ranging from the Renaissance splendours of Palestrina and Sweelinck (the latter’s Hodie is “Christmas” for me), to the spiritual conventionality of Willan’s O radix Jesse (so often forgotten in a barrage of Bruckner performances of this text), to the fantastic modern offerings of Hallock, Quick, and of course, Rupert himself. Thank-you for this beautiful gift, which I know will touch Christmases all across Canada and beyond with the holy peace of the newborn Child.”
“Angels from Heaven Came is the perfect title for this Christmas CD, a treasure chest of glorious music. Filled with gems from the 16th century right up to the present day, the juxtaposition of musical styles and times seems to enhance rather than distract from the charm of each work. It’s as if well-meaning angels had carefully collected their most-adored choral gems from Christmases throughout the ages and assembled them in dazzling array for all of us to hear, admire, and rediscover.
This choir sings very beautifully in a cappella. Diction, tuning, stylistic interpretation and simple purity in sound were especially attractive in the Willan, Larkin, Ravenscroft, Sweelinck and Praetorius. And although I’m biased I must say my secret favourite is Ave Maris Stella – I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung so reverently nor with such tenderness as what’s on this CD. Sometimes simplicity is all we need. The only accompanied number is Lang’s How Like An Angel Came I Down and although I like this piece of music very much, I found myself selfishly and indulgently wanting the whole CD to be a cappella. And even though it may bring more ‘reality’ to the performance, I found the sounds of traffic and congregation on some of the live tracks distracting. Here again, I wanted the luxury of silence and stillness as I listened to the purity and musicality of this wonderful choir’s sound.
Angels From Heaven Came contains a rich collection of Christmas repertoire that needs to be heard. It is a treasure chest for the choral enthusiast to discover, marvel over and explore.