William Harris’s peerless setting of John Donne’s poem was the inspiration behind an exciting and innovative project
that took place in Leeds last summer. We performed and recorded a programme of
modern sacred music in the fabulous space and acoustic that is Leeds’ Victoria
Quarter. Following two flashmob-type appearances during shopping hours on the
weekend of the Tour de France's Grand Départ from Leeds, the concert attracted
an audience of some 170 on a glorious summer evening, with the sunlight catching
the stained glass in the roof and casting all sorts of mystical lights as we
sang. The recording is now available and can be purchased here.
The programme includes works by the likes of Whitacre, Lauridsen, Pärt, Beamish and MacMillan alongside Harris, Parry and three modern Yorkshire greats – Edward Bairstow, Francis Jackson and Philip Moore – performed in a shopping centre...
Not quite any old shopping centre, however - the Victoria Quarter is the premium retail centre in the North of England. It was created twenty years ago by enclosing a network of marbled Victorian arcades beneath the largest stained-glass window in Europe, creating a magnificent cathedral-like space and acoustic that
also houses some seriously high-end retail therapy centres - more a cathedral of commerce.
St Peter’s Singers have sung here before – for some years now, actually – delighting diners at the Harvey Nichols Espresso Bar in the weeks before Christmas, and this was where the idea germinated. “Last Christmas we sang Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium alongside the carols, and you could see just how enraptured many of the guests were. They may not have heard anything like this before,” said Quentin Brown, the choir's Concert Manager.
“We thought just how exciting it would be to bring more of this
fantastic Cathedral music – music that by its eloquent simplicity awakens our
spirituality with feelings of life, love, mystery, timelessness and awe – to a
totally accessible public space, where, thanks to the architecture and the
acoustics, it can still work. Normally such sonorities don’t escape our great
churches, and although people are being drawn to cathedrals in growing numbers
to hear choral music, most will still never hear it. This is why we called
our project ‘One Equal Music’.
We would like to thank Sound Engineer and Producer Steve Swinden of Chorum for an absolutely superb job !
Here's what they are saying about One Equal Music:
'It is absolutely, stunningly beautiful. All I could do was sit back with a huge smile as I listened to these fabulous recordings'. - Jeff, Vermont
' Just a brilliant brilliant disc ...the choice of repertoire is just glorious - best choral CD I've bought in YEARS.' - Elizabeth Stratford, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Arundel Cathedral
'I felt as if I had been wrapped in a blanket of peace' - Sue, New Jersey
'It's wonderful ! ...I love the production value and design of the booklet and cover design too.' - Rosemary, York
'Inspired by their conductor, Dr Simon Lindley, the Singers sound completely inside the music and sing with a real depth of understanding' - Philip Moore
'It sounds wonderful !' - Sally Beamish
'The recording finds [St Peter's Singers] in sterling form under Simon Lindley. Harris' motet Faire is the Heaven, richly toned, beautifully balanced, glows in the resonant acoustic while the serene lines of Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium are shaped with great delicacy. A splendid enterprise.' - Robert Cockcroft, Yorkshire Post 13/02/15
'Conducted by Simon Lindley, who shows clear sympathy with the music, the choir makes a lovely clear, bright sound ... The acoustic brings a lovely bloom to the voices whilst preserving clarity - Robert Hugill
Read Robert's review