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


PREMIERES:


O VOS OMNES
10th April 1982
Cantamus
Conductor Pamela Cook
English Reformed Church, Amsterdam

THE HOLLY BOUGH

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


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


THE DANCERS OF HUAI-NAN
12th February 2017
The Cantabrigians
Director Paula Downes
Christ's College, Cambridge

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


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

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

More information and sheet music

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

O VOS OMNES
Latin Motet for high voices (SSSA)
More info


An eminent colleague of Andrew’s was the distinguished Pamela Cook, who taught singing at Birmingham Conservatoire and also ran a prestigious, world prize winning girls’ choir “Cantamus”. With her choir, Pamela commissioned Andrew to write a motet for high voices. Andrew was delighted to be asked to write a work for Pamela’s highly successful choir. 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 this performance.  Normally Andrew likes 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


The 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.

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.

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 have 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 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.

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.

This work is now published by Faber Music in their anthology: 30 Sacred Masterworks for Upper Voice Choir.


THE DANCERS OF HUAI-NAN

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, Paula recorded all the voice parts of this work and she created an animation to go with this 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.

Cantabrigians concerts in Cambridge, 2017

GIBRALTAR OUR HOMELAND

For unaccompanied vocal soloist and 3 part SSA choir.


Both words and music by Andrew.

More info


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 has been  included as part of the choir’s repertoire ever since. Notable performances by the choir have been 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: Paula Downes, 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

Paula wrote new words and gave a new title to this Anthem, World Anthem, during 2019.  With her 2 young daughters and her husband, Paula created a video performance of World Anthem, using photographs of Extinction Rebellion's Red Rebel Brigade. Paula posted the video online on 3rd September 2019.


In October 2019, in the Church of St John the Baptist, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, the Meridian Singers, directed from the violin by Paula, performed the work again, this time with the new words by Paula and entitled World Anthem. The anthem was accompanied by Joshua Cusworth (trumpet), David Cammish (bass guitar) and Olga Elbourn on keyboard. 

Somersham Prom Concert Poster


World Anthem was again 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.  The video recording was first broadcast online during the Coronavirus lockdown on May 4th 2020.


WIND SONG (adaptation of 'What shall I do to show how much I love her', originally for Male Voices)
More info



'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. Paula Downes arranged this version to perform with the Silver Swans in Cambridge for some Climate Change concerts in 2018/19.


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

Meridian Singers concert poster

During the Covid-19 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 Anna in July 2020, in celebration of Andrew’s 70th birthday year.

Wind Song is included in our educational resources on 
Native American Culture.

THE HOLLY BOUGH 
From Ballads for Christmas


TE DEUM

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

This setting was composed by Andrew 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 this recording and posted it online on May 31st 2020, during Andrew’s 70th birthday year.

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