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Sidney Sussex Service : for alto and baritone soloists, SATB choir and organ

by Brett McKern (2008)

Work Overview

The text is the 1662 Book of Common Prayer version.

This setting was commissioned by Pádraig Byrne for his wife Hilary's thirtieth birthday. Pádraig and Hilary met when they were both undergraduate students singing in the Chapel Choir at Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge. This is from whence the setting takes its name. Most Oxbridge Chapel Choirs sing Evensong more than other forms of services and thus many settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. This is why it was decided to set this text for this commission. Another shape that the work took from the commissioner is that with Hilary an alto and Pádraig a bass, the solo voices of alto in the Magnificat and Baritone in the Nunc Dimittis developed. In the Magnificat, there is a quirky organ ostinato at times, and Mary comes across as a gentle, slightly innocent young lady, yet still a teenager as she almost dialogues with the chorus in this setting. The Nunc Dimittis sees the soloist forming a three-part ensemble with the tenors and basses before 'all people' come in with the full choir. There is some commonality in the ending of the Gloria Patri in both movements.

Work Details

Year: 2008

Instrumentation: Alto solo, baritone solo, SATB choir, organ.

Duration: 5 min.

Difficulty: Medium

Commission note: Commissioned by Pádraig Byrne for his wife Hilary on the occasion of her 30th Birthday

First performance: by The Cathedral Singers, Brett McKern, Andrej Kouznetsov — 9 Nov 08. Evensong, Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney.


Performances of this work

12 Apr 15: Church of St John the Evangelist, Gordon, NSW. Featuring St John's Evensong Choir.

9 Nov 08: Evensong, Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney.. Featuring The Cathedral Singers, Brett McKern, Andrej Kouznetsov.

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