The Choirs at St Catharine's have recently embarked on a series of recordings with Resonus Classics; the first of which was released in November 2015. Also available are three former recordings. See below to purchase your copy today!
Gaudent in Coelis
This third album in the Choirs' survey of contemporary Church music focuses on three leading British composers: Sally Beamish, Judith Bingham and Joanna Marsh. The programme includes Canticles and a Missa Brevis composed specially for St Catharine's, and three haunting 're-compositions' by Judith Bingham of choral classics by Tallis, Parry and Wesley.
Gaudent in Coelis is available to buy for a special price of £10 from the Porters' Lodge, and can also be bought as a CD or download from Resonus Classics.
Ave Maria: Music for upper voices
The Girls' Choir's first solo recording features music by leading British contemporary composers, much of which was previously unrecorded. The programme includes Mass settings by John Tavener and Kenneth Leighton, canticles by Diana Burrell and Joanna Marsh, and motets by Judith Bingham, Rebecca Clarke, Cecilia McDowall and Stevie Wishart.
Ave Maria is available to buy for a special price of £10 from the Porters' Lodge, and can also be bought as a CD or download from Resonus Classics.
'Drawn from local Cambridge schools, the 20 young voices of St Catharine’s make up the only college-based girls’ choir in the country, one that since its inception in 2008 has committed itself to performing new music. As more choral foundations are establishing girls’ choirs, so the repertoire for upper voices is gradually expanding, with some interesting examples here from Judith Bingham, Cecilia McDowell and Stevie Wishart. Highlights include Kenneth Leighton’s pungent Missa Cornelia (1980), but the most successful piece in this collection is Joanna Marsh’s 2010 St Paul’s Service, which imaginatively pulls the harmonic idioms of 16th-century choral music into attractive new polyphony, splendidly performed by these exceptionally well-trained singers.'
'The softly undulating lines and shimmering blend of cecilia McDowall's lovely Ave Maria show the choir at their best, tugging and releasing their way through a lovely sequence of suspensions. The Renaissance-style writing of Rebecca Clarke's Ave Maria also works weel, its contrapuntal lines clearly picked out under Wickham's direction, as does the follow-my-leader scalic imitation of Judith Binham's God be in my head, banishing all memories of the Walford Davies setting with its instinctive response to text.'
The development of girls' choirs in cathedrals and collegiate churches over the last 20 years has led to an increasing profile for such ensembles, and the development of suitable repertoire. This provides a showcase for the talents of the relatively new girls choirs. Two recent discs have come my way, both showing off the talents of cathedral and collegiate girls' choirs. The music moves from the rather traditional to the more modern, from a unison vocal line accompanied by a rich organ part to complex three-part unaccompanied textures, showing that composers and choirs are getting more daring ...
Edward Wickham and the St Catharine's Girls Choir, Cambridge have recorded a disc of 20th and 21st century music on Resonus with Kenneth Leighton's Missa Cornelia, John Tavener's Missa Brevis, evening canticles by Diana Burrell and by Joanna Marsh, and smaller pieces by Rebecca Clarke, Judith Bingham, Cecilia McDowall and Stevie Wishart. St Catharine's Girls Choir was founded in 2008 at St Catharine's College, Cambridge. There are 20 girls, and the choir is the only college-based girls' choir in the UK and sings weekly in the college chapel ...
Edward Wickham and St Catharine's Girl's Choir open with Diana Burrell's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (1996), commissioned by the Norwich Cathedral Ed-Choristers Guild to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the cathedral. Wickham describes them as 'bracing' and there is indeed a nice spikiness to the vocal harmony, with plenty of rhythmic interest and intriguing organ harmonies. Rebecca Clarke's Ave Maria (1937) has an attractive complexity to the melodic shapes, and conveys a very distinctive voice. Kenneth Leighton's Missa Cornelia (1980) was written for the choir if St Leonard's-Mayfield School. It opens with a bright, rhythmic and very appealing 'Kyrie', and the other movements have some wonderfully striking moments, leading to an austerely expressive 'Agnus Dei'. This is a fine performance of a terrific piece.
Judith Bingham's God be in my head (2003) has a lovely fine-grained texture with clarity to the lines, and her Les Saintes Maries de la mer (2014) adds a certain spikiness too. This latter was written for a concert at the City of London Festival by girl's choirs from the cathedrals at St Albans, Guildford and Southwark. John Tavener's Missa Brevis (2005) was written for the choir of Westminster Cathedral. The 'Kyrie' starts with a long breathed melody over a drone, whilst the Christe has an austere clarity to the two moving parts. Each movement ('Gloria', 'Sanctus', 'Agnus Dei') seems to explore a different texture, but always a lovely rich harmonic language, with some very tricky moments (such as the wide intervals in the 'Sanctus') all beautifully achieved.
Cecilia McDowall's Ave Maria (2004) is intense and austere, with some lovely suspensions and a magical ending. Steve Wishart's Three Carols (2014) were written for the choir and combine a medieval Celtic/folk inflection with some imaginative textures. Finally, Joanna Marsh's St Paul's Service shows a very distinctive and imaginative voice. The vocals are a mix of catchy motifs and spikiness with the organ contribution its own elements. I enjoyed this very much and it makes a fitting climax to a fine disc, one which I will enjoy listening to again.
'artless dexterity ... unified by a thread of tenderness and warmth'
Nova! Nova! is a collection of beautiful and evocative contemporary carols, featuring premieres from such composers as Richard Rodney Bennett, Roxanna Panufnik, Cecilia McDowall and John Tavener. It also includes works specially written for the Girls' Choir by Stevie Wishart and Christopher Fox, and was recorded in our very own College Chapel, conducted by Dr Edward Wickham.
Nova! Nova! is available to buy for a special price of £10 from the Porters' Lodge, and can also be bought as a CD or download from Resonus Classics.
St Catharine's Choirs have previously recorded three other CDs. To order a copy of The Thread of my Song or any other CD (price: £11 + £1 p&p for UK, £2 for overseas), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Payment can be made by cheque, made out to St Catharine's College, and sent to College Music, St Catharine's College, Cambridge, CB2 1RL.
Alumni can order copies at the special price of £6 (+ £1 p&p for UK, £2 for overseas) direct from the Alumni Office at the College.
CD recordings are also on sale at the College Porters' Lodge.
The Thread of my Song
Music from the 17th and 21st centuries, sung by the Chapel and Girls’ Choirs of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.
"Let the thread of my song never be broken …” Rig Veda II.28
This recording weaves together many threads – ancient and contemporary, Western and Eastern, folk and classical. With works specially commissioned from contemporary composers such as Gabriel Jackson, Jonathan Green, Christopher Fox and Nigel Hess interleaved with spiritual songs from the early 17th century, the recording presents a unique tapestry of vocal colours, and with it a celebration of the diversity of music-making at St Catharine’s.
Anthems from The Teares and Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul(1614)
Canticles by Sally Beamish (St Catharine’s commission)
Benedictus by Nigel Hess (St Catharine’s commission)
Angeli, archangeli by Gabriel Jackson (St Catharine’s commission)
New works by Jonathan Green
with guest artist Merit Ariane Stephanos
Recorded in the chapel of St Catharine’s College on January 11, 12 and March 21, 22, 2011
This recording was made possible through the generosity of Dale Volberg Reed and John Shelton Reed
Music from St Catharine's
Vocal and instrumental music performed by the choir, college instrumentalists and guest artists; featuring music from Hildegard of Bingen to Robert Saxton.
Videte: Music by Thomas Tallis
An anthology of some of Tallis’s most sumptuous choral works.
" ... beautifully paced performances ... the voices blend magically, yet the detail of every strand is audible. This disc represents an achievement of which all St Catharine's College, Cambridge may be proud."