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Emergency evensong is ‘epic’ task, say cathedral choral scholars

31 July 2020

A preview image of the #scholarsevensong video

A preview image of the #scholarsevensong video

CHORAL and organ scholars from cathedrals across the country have come together to produce a virtual evensong to raise money for the Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund and to raise the profile of the English choral tradition.

A survey by the Church Music Trust (CMT) showed how many foundations would struggle without additional funds once lockdown restrictions were eased. Choral and organ scholars from Bristol, Worcester, Exeter, Truro, Gloucester, Wells, Hereford, and Tewkesbury Abbey have been involved in complex logistics that required six weeks of individual rehearsal to backing tracks created at Truro. Three weeks of audio and video editing have followed.

“It’s been a sizeable task,” a tenor choral scholar at Exeter, Daniel Maw, said. “We are so fortunate to have great support from the Cathedral Music Trust, as well as individual composers who were kind enough to commission music for this service. Paul Mealor has written a beautiful introit, set to the text ‘Lead me, Lord’, while Roxanna Panufnik has arranged a truly epic setting of ‘Let all the world’, a much loved and familiar hymn text.”

The Precentor of Exeter Cathedral, Canon James Mustard, is a trustee of the CMT, which, with the Ouseley Church Music Trust and the Choir Schools Association, set up the Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund. “To see cathedral scholars working so well on this and forging a new sense of community between them is an unexpected and welcome development arising from the difficulties of lockdown,” he said on Tuesday.

The Church Commissioners will match-fund up to £1.1 million, and the funding will pay the salaries of lay clerks for up to four months from the time when it is safe to restart indoor choral services with congregations — covering, it is hoped, Advent and Christmas (News, 17 July). The fund currently stands at just under £850,000.

The scholars’ evensong was streamed on YouTube on Tuesday. Lessons were read by the former chorister and TV presenter Alexander Armstrong and Katie Derham, who presents the BBC Proms. “Helping to bring together a bunch of incredible singers to raise funds for something so close to our hearts is an incredible honour,” Harry Hoyland, a Truro choral scholar, said. “We are extremely pleased with the results.”


Watch the preview here


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