Choral Works for High Voices

Cantabrigians concert "An Evening of English Composers", Christ's College, Cambridge, including music by Andrew Downes for high voices, 2017


10th April 1982
Conductor Pamela Cook
English Reformed Church, Amsterdam


17th December 1992
Hillcrest School Chamber Choir
Director Valerie Pither, with harpist Robert Johnston

July 1994 (recording)
Halesowen Girls' Choir with Andrew Downes as soloist
Director Margaret Pickford
St John's Church, Halesowen

12th February 2017
The Cantabrigians
Director Paula Downes
Christ's College, Cambridge

December 20th 2018
The Silver Swans with Paula Downes Soprano
Grand Arcade, Cambridge

May 12th 2019
Paula Downes and family
Multitrack Recording on Soundcloud

May 31st 2020
Soprano Paula Downes
Multitrack Recording on Soundcloud
Part of #andrewdownes70

More information and sheet music

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Have you performed in this work or come to watch? Please share below!

An account by Andrew's wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on June 10th, 2021

Latin Motet for high voices (SSSA)
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An eminent colleague of Andrew’s, the distinguished Pamela Cook, who taught singing at Birmingham Conservatoire, also ran a prestigious, world prize winning girls’ choir: Cantamus.  With her choir, Pamela, won the Sainsbury's Choir of the Year twice!  So when Pamela asked Andrew to compose a work for Cantamus, he was absolutely delighted and felt extremely honoured.  He chose for his text The Lamentations of Jeremiah 1:12 (Translation: All ye who pass by the way, behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.  Attend, all ye people, and behold my sorrow).

Cantamus first performed the work in the English Reformed Church, Amsterdam, on Easter Saturday, 10th April 1982.

Programme for the premiere of Andrew Downes' O vos omnes, performed in the English Reformed Church, Amsterdam, on Easter Saturday, 10th April 1982 by Cantamus, directed by Pamela Cook

That same month the choir sang the work in Germany, in the Immanuel-Kant-Gymnasium, Heiligenhaus.  On May 22nd 1982 they gave the UK premiere of O Vos Omnes in Welbeck Abbey, Derbyshire.
Andrew and I went to the Welbeck Abbey performance.  Normally Andrew liked to allow loads of time to get to a concert.  This time I persuaded him to leave less time for our journey to Derbyshire.  I quickly regretted my actions, because we had a puncture half way through our journey!  Andrew had to change the wheel and was wearing his concert suit.  We only arrived just in time for the concert and Andrew had to go into the auditorium with black hands from the tyre.  After the performance, Andrew was called up to take a bow for his piece.  Pam went to greet him and shake his hand.   She was wearing a beautiful long dove grey dress.  I think I was the only one cringing.  Pam and Andrew were so caught up in the excitement of the moment that they didn’t notice.  Years later, Andrew apologised to Pamela and she didn’t even remember it!

On July 11th 1982, in the Pfarre St Michael, Cantamus won first prize in the Vienna Youth & Music Festival and the City of Vienna Prize, including O Vos Omnes in their programme.

Letter from Pamela Cook after winning the City of Vienna Prize

Programme for the City of Vienna Prize, 1982

Birmingham School of Music Association newsletter

Andrew's work was commercially recorded for LP record by Cantamus in September 1982 in the Great Hall of Nottingham University, and is still regularly included in the choir's programmes home and abroad.

LP Cover:

Pamela Cook later directed the Birmingham School of Music Singers in a beautiful performance of the work in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, in May 1988.

Other choirs have also taken this work into their repertoire:

Haybridge High School Choir, conducted by Heather Fairs, performed the work in St Saviour's Church, Hagley, in March 1995.

The Halesowen Girls' Choir, directed by Margaret Pickford, who also performed the work on many occasions, included it as part of their recital in the Sainsbury's Choir of the Year Competition at the Royal Northern College of Music in April 1996, winning the title of 'Sainsbury's Youth Choir of the Day' and a place in the quarter finals.

The Millennium Scholars, directed by our daughter Paula, gave the first USA performance at Adams House, Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts, on April 21, 2006, and a further performance in King's Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts in August 2006.  Andrew and I were visiting at the time and sang in the choir for this concert, a real thrill for me!

In March 2013, Paula recorded all the voice parts of this work and she created an animation to go with this recording in 2016.  The recording took place in the Studio of Birmingham Conservatoire.  Matthew O'Malley was the recording engineer.

In April, June and November 2017, the Cantabrigians performed O Vos Omnes as part of their recitals in the Chapels of Churchill College, Jesus College and Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Cantabrigians concerts in Cambridge, 2017

In May 2018 the Cantabrigians performed the work as part of their recital in the OCR of Trinity College Cambridge.

Cantabrigians ClimateKeys concert, Trinity College, Cambridge

During Andrew’s 70th birthday year, in April 2020, Paula’s animation of the work was broadcast online.

O Vos Omnes is now published by Faber Music in their anthology: 30 Sacred Masterworks for Upper Voice Choir.  We decided to accept when Faber, on Pamela Cook's recommendation, offered Andrew a place in this prestigious anthology, because Faber's distibution networks are far greater than ours.  I had to proof read the Faber typesetter's work, which I found quite nerve-racking!

Traditional Chinese poem (in English translation) set to music for unaccompanied high voices.

More info

Pamela Cook and her 'Cantamus' Girls' Choir needed a work requiring exceptional technical skill for the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year Competition.  With funds from Nottinghamshire County Council, they asked Andrew to provide a virtuosic piece.  Andrew’s work divides into 8 parts and contains multi-tempo techniques.  When Pam first saw the piece, she shied away from it and the choir didn’t perform it.

In March 2013, after typesetting the work, our daughter Paula recorded all the voice parts of this work and she created an animation to go with her recording in 2017.

In February 2017 the work was given its first concert performance in the Chapel of Christ's College, Cambridge, by The Cantabrigians, directed by Paula.  The Cantabrigians gave a second performance in the Chapel of Churchill College, Cambridge, in April 2017.  They performed amazingly well both times!

Cantabrigians concerts in Cambridge, 2017

For unaccompanied vocal soloist and 3 part SSA choir.

Both words and music by Andrew.

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This anthem's beautiful tune was first composed by Andrew as part of his stunning third symphony.
 The anthem was recorded by Halesowen Girls' Choir in July 1994.  Andrew sang the solo verses himself and Anna, Paula and I sang with the choir. The anthem was included as part of the choir’s repertoire ever afterwards.  Extremely memorable performances by the choir took place at a special 'Downes Towards the Millennium' concert in September 1999 in St John's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, and at a Millennium Concert, entitled 'Music from around the World', in October 2000, in Hagley Free Church, Worcestershire.

The USA premiere of the anthem was given on 24th June 2007 at First Parish Church, Cambridge Massachusetts, by Schizophonic: our daughter Paula singing soprano, Anney Gilotte, soprano, and Allegra Martin, mezzo-soprano.

In March 2013, Paula recorded all the voice parts of this work and created a music video in 2016. The recording took place in the Studio of Birmingham Conservatoire.  Matthew O'Malley was the recording engineer.

In February 2017 the work was performed in the Chapel of Christ's College, Cambridge, by The Cantabrigians, directed by Paula.  The Cantabrigians gave further performances in the Chapel of Churchill College, Cambridge, in April 2017, in the Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, in June 2017 and in the Chapel of the Grange Wellington Hotel, Westminster, as part of The Brandenburg Choral Festival of London, in September 2017.

Cantabrigians concert for the Brandenburg Choral Festival, London

In July 2019 the song was performed in Bluntisham Baptist Church, Cambridge, by the Meridian Singers, directed by Paula.  For this performance, accompanying instrumentalists also played: Paul & Isabelle Galluzzo (violins), Amy Galluzzo (viola), Claire Stevenson (cello), Rhys Wilson (guitar), David Camish (bass guitar) and Olga Elbourn (keyboard).

Meridian Singers' poster

During 2019 Paula wrote new words and gave a new title to Andrew's work, calling it World Anthem.  The words call for greater respect for the earth in the face of climate change.  With her 2 young daughters and her husband, Paula made a delightful recording of World Anthem, which can be heard on Soundcloud.
In October 2019, in the Church of St John the Baptist, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, the Meridian Singers, directed from the violin by Paula, performed the anthem with the new words and title by Paula.  The anthem was accompanied by Joshua Cusworth (trumpet), David Cammish (bass guitar) and Olga Elbourn on keyboard. 

Somersham Prom Concert Poster

World Anthem was  performed by the Cantabrigians in a concert entitled 'Our Planet' in the St Clements Church Cambridge Lunchtime Recitals series in January 2020, as part of Andrew’s 70th Birthday celebration year.  

In the spring of 2020 Paula created an online choir recording of World Anthem, with vocal and instrumental contributions from family and friends from 5 years old to senior citizens.  I was very pleased to contribute towards this and Andrew did too!  The video recording was first broadcast online during the Coronavirus lockdown on May 4th 2020, raising funds for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research.

WIND SONG (adaptation of 'What shall I do to show how much I love her', originally for Male Voices)
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'Wind Song' sets a Native American poem in English Translation and comes in two versions: the first can be sung by high or low voices, or with solo Soprano or Tenor and string quartet.  Our daughter Paula arranged these versions and gave performances with the 'Silver Swans' string quartet in Cambridge for Climate Change concerts in 2018/19.

The second version can be sung by Alto or Baritone Solo with SSAB Choir. Paula was planning to conduct the Meridian Singers performing this version with baritone Rob Freak in March 2020 for a concert about climate change, which sadly had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

Meridian Singers concert poster

During the Covid lockdown, Hagley Community Orchestra and Singers conducted by me, created an online multitrack performance of Wind Song as part of the Music for Sanctuary online concerts series, raising funds for the homeless.  The performance was put together and posted online by our daughter Anna in July 2020, in celebration of Andrew’s 70th birthday year.

Wind Song is included in Paula's educational resources on
Native American Culture.

From Ballads for Christmas

Fourth century text set to music for unaccompanied high voices (3 sopranos, 2 mezzo sopranos, 3 altos)
More info

Andrew composed his beautifully atmospheric setting of the Te Deum for the Cantabrigians, for their Evensong services and concerts.

The work has been recorded by Paula, singing all parts (multitrack recording), and can be heard on Soundcloud.  Paula created a video to go with her recording and posted it on YouTube on May 31st 2020, during Andrew’s 70th birthday year.


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