SATB Unaccompanied Choral Works

CD of many of Andrew Downes' Choral works, recorded by Royal Holloway Chapel Choir under Lionel Pike.


PREMIERES:

Motet: O Magnum Mysterium
4th October 1969
Midland Boy Singers
Conductor Peter Grant
Wigmore Hall

Motet and Mass: O Magnum Mysterium
19th February 1977

Birmingham School of Music Chamber Choir
Conductor Andrew Downes
Birmingham Cathedral

O love the Lord, all ye His saints
The Souls of the Righteous
In Peace
1st, 2nd, 4th November 1984
Conductor John Bishop

BBC Radio 4 'Daily Service'

Preces and Responses
1986
Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir
BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong



The Lord is my Shepherd
21st October 2000
Runnymede Church Choirs Association
Directed by Lionel Pike

St George's Chapel, Windsor


The Preces & Responses (ii) and Psalm 121
9th November 2002
Runnymede Church Choirs Association
Directed by Lionel Pike
Guildford Cathedral

A St Luke Passion:
Judas Mercator Pessimus
 and Tenebrae Factae Sunt

3rd April 1993
Wolverhampton Civic Choir
, with Brian Rayner Cook and the Orchestra da Camera
Directed by David Hart


Coventry Carol
15th December 1979
Choir of Hereford Cathedral
Directed by Roy Massey

More information SATB Unaccompanied Choral Works

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 April 29th, 2021

MOTET & MASS: 'O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM' Opus 2 (1973) 15'
More info and sheet music

Also read Blog post: The Premiere Performance of Motet & Mass: 'O Magnum Mysterium'

Andrew’s original scoring for his Motet ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ was for alto, tenor and bass soloists. He then originally scored the Mass for SATTBB choir, firstly for his male voice group ‘Counterpoint’ and then for his Chamber Choir at the Birmingham School of Music.

Andrew composed his Motet, O Magnum Mysterium, taking his text from the 'Tenebrae Responses', for 3 solo SAB voices, in 1969 before he went up to Cambridge University as a Choral Scholar at St John’s College. Andrew performed the work with two other soloists from the Midland Boy Singers in the Wigmore Hall, London, on 4th October 1969. This amazing review appeared in the Times the next day:-

'The single most striking feature of Saturday afternoon’s joint programme in the Wigmore Hall by the Midland Boy Singers (conductor Peter Grant) and the London Boy Singers (conductor, Jonathan Steele) was the counter-tenor singing of Andrew Downes. A founder member of the former choir, a choral scholar elect of St.John’s College, Cambridge, and the composer of an imaginatively meritorious setting of ‘O Magnum Mysterium’..., he could well be a figure to watch out for...' 
THE TIMES

Midland Boy Singers Programme for the premiere of Andrew Downes' Motet, O Magnum Mysterium, at the Wigmore Hall, 1969


Andrew completed the Mass in 1973, when he was studying at the Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells, who wrote of Andrew in his report:

'In a quiet (but strong) way one of the most effective composers coming to me these days.  I have very considerable hopes for him.' HERBERT HOWELLS

O Magnum Mysterium Motet and Mass was premiered by the Birmingham School of Music Chamber Choir, conducted by Andrew, in Birmingham Cathedral on 19th February 1977. This was in fact the day of the birth of our daughter, Anna…  I was in labour the day before and she was born at 20 minutes past midnight just into the 19th! Andrew was up late on the nights of 18th-19th February, but fortunately could get to his concert. My parents came to visit me and baby Anna on 19th, while Andrew was away.  My Dad kept making me laugh, which was uncomfortable because I had stitches, following Anna’s breech birth. 

Programme of the premiere performance of Andrew Downes' Motet and Mass: O Magnum Mysterium


In May 1977 Andrew conducted the Birmingham School of Music Chamber Choir in further performances of the whole work in Lapley Church, Staffordshire, and Upton-upon-Severn Parish Church, Worcestershire.

Programme of a performance of Andrew Downes' Motet and Mass: O Magnum Mysterium


They then recorded the work for BBC Radio Birmingham at the Knights Templars Church, Temple Balsall, Warwickshire (broadcast on 29th June 1977).  My mum looked after Anna while I went to the performances and the recording. Still vivid in my memory is the friendly School of Music porter, who was unfortunately incapable of being any help whatsoever, due to his heart condition and being overweight.  I couldn’t help thinking he was in the wrong job, or should have retired.  I think the School of Music turned a blind eye and he just came along for the ride. Fortunately there were enough strong young students to move chairs and equipment, so the recording went without a hitch.

Listing showing the broadcast of Andrew Downes' O Magnum Mysterium for SATTBB on BBC Radio Birmingham, recorded by the Birmingham School of Music Chamber Choir at the Knights Templars Church, Temple Balsall Warwickshire (broadcast on 29th June 1977).


The recording of the Lapley performance of ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ was made by me on a primitive cassette player on my lap, but its quality was good enough to share online in June 2020 for Andrew's 70th birthday year.
You can listen to the performance here.


I arranged the Kyrie, Agnus Dei, Sanctus and Benedictus for the first American performance of the Motet & Mass given in King's Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts, on August 22nd 2006, by the Millennium Scholars, directed by Paula. Andrew and I sang in this performance, on our visit to Boston, where Paula’s husband David was studying at Harvard and was working as Adams House pastoral tutor with Paula. You can listen to the performance here.


The motet has continued to lead a life of its own. In 2001 Heather Fairs, former music teacher of our two daughters, Anna and Paula, retired, and Paula, Katie Pickford and I performed the motet, transcribed for higher voices (SSA) by me, at Heather Fairs' retirement dinner at the Chateau Impney, Droitwich, Worcestershire. This version was performed by members of the Cantabrigians in the Chapel of the Grange Wellington Hotel, Westminster, as part of The Brandenburg Choral Festival of London in September 2017 (Paula Downes, Charlotte Ives and Lucy Taylor) and in January 2018 (Paula Downes, Catherine White, Caroline Hunter). Paula Downes, Charlotte Ives and Lucy Taylor also performed this arrangement in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, in January 2018. Also in 2018 Paula Downes transcribed the Motet for SAB for her Community Choir, the Meridian Singers for their Christmas Concert, which took place on December 8th of that year.


The mass also has undergone various arrangements.

In 2017 Paula transcribed all the movements of the Mass except the Gloria for high voices.  This version was performed in the Chapel of Selwyn College, Cambridge, in November 2017 by the Cantabrigians, as part of their concert for Remembrance Day.

Programme of concert for Selwyn College Music Society, Cambridge, by the Cantabrigians, including Paula Downes' high-voice version of Andrew Downes' Motet and Mass: O Magnum Mysterium


Paula created a multi-track music video of the whole Mass for high voices, which she posted online on June 21st 2020, during Andrew's 70th birthday year. The music video can be viewed here.



O LOVE THE LORD ALL YE HIS SAINTS Opus 31 No.l (1984)
 
Anthem for unaccompanied SATB choir with divisions.
More info

At the end of October 1984, Andrew was asked by John Bishop, Director of the Chamber Choir of the Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire), to compose 3 Anthems for the choir to sing in the BBC Radio 4 Daily service at the beginning of November 1984.  This was very exciting for Andrew, but it gave him very little time to create something really special. He hates deadlines, but he managed to create 3 masterpieces in about as many days.

The first Anthem, O love the Lord, all ye His saints, was premiered by the Birmingham School of Music Chamber Choir, under the Direction of John Bishop on BBC Radio 4 on 1st November 1984, All Saints Day, in the 'Daily Service'. The Choir gave a second performance of the anthem on November 4th 1984 as part of the Evensong service in Birmingham Cathedral.

Order of Service for Evensong, 1984, Birmingham Cathedral including the second performance of Andrew Downes' O love the Lord


Letter from John Bishop:

Fan mail and orders of the sheet music:


In May 1989 Andrew’s 3 Anthems were performed by the Clent Hills Singers, directed by Andrew, in St John's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire.


I told my former choirmaster, Dr Lionel Pike at Royal Holloway, about the Anthems. As a result, many subsequent performances of each of the Anthems took place in the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, by the Chapel Choir under the direction of Professor Lionel Pike, between 1985 and Lionel Pike's retirement in 2005.

Letter from the Friends of Royal Holloway Chapel Choir.


Music Lists for Royal Holloway Chapel Choir


All 3 Anthems were recorded for CD entitled The Lord is my Shepherd (CDVP014CD) by the Chapel Choir of Royal Holloway, directed by Lionel Pike, on 6th & 7th January 2001 in Arundel Cathedral.  All the tracks from this CD have been broadcast many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA.



The 3 Anthems were performed on June 21st 2005 in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, by the Chamber Choir of Birmingham Conservatoire, conducted by Andrew King, in a concert of Music by Andrew Downes, marking Andrew's retirement from Birmingham Conservatoire.

Programme of music for the retirement of Andrew Downes, Head of Composition and Creative Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire


The first American performance of the 3 Anthems was given in King's Chapel, Boston Massachusetts, on August 22nd 2006 by the Millennium Scholars, directed by Paula Downes.  Andrew and I sang in this concert, which can be heard here.

While she was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Paula sang in the choir of the Church of the Advent, Boston.  She introduced the Anthems to the choir director, Edith Ho, and as a result the choir performed O Love the Lord all ye His saints in the church in November 2006.

Old Swinford Hospital School Chamber Choir, directed by George Nicholls, performed this anthem at the Church of St Alban the Martyr, Birmingham, in April 2018.


THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS Opus 31 No.2 (1984) 2'30"
Anthem for unaccompanied SATB choir with divisions. 
More info

Text from The Wisdom of Solomon: Ch.3, v.1-3

This second Anthem was first performed on BBC Radio 4 on 2nd November 1984 in the ‘Daily Service' by the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, conducted by John Bishop.

The Anthem was recorded in 1997 by the Academic Scholars for their CD entitled "Hereditary Voices" (PHAROS Records PHACDlO1). 

Besides the performances in the concerts with all three anthems, several performances of The Souls of the Righteous have been given by the Kingfisher Chorale, directed by David Fisher: in the Frazer Noble Hall, Leicester, in October 2003 and November 2009; in St Thomas Church, South Wigston, as part of the Blaby Festival (June 2005); and in St John's Church, Clarendon, in March 2004.

Programme of a concert by the Kingfisher Chorale, 2005

Articles in the ISM Journal



When Paula was a choral scholar at Trinity College, Cambrige, she introduced the Anthems to her choirmaster, Richard Marlow.  As a result, Andrew and I were very proud to hear our daughter sing in The Souls of the Righteous with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, under the direction of Richard Marlow (who had also been a tutor of Andrew’s when he was at Cambrige from 1969 – 72), in their Evensong Service on 20th May 1999.

Birmingham Cathedral Choir, directed by Marcus Huxley, performed the work in November 2009 and July 2010.  

In February 2011, it was performed at Queens Chapel of the Savoy, Savoy Hill, London, by the choir Convivium conducted by Neil Ferris.

The Harvard Choral Fellows, directed by Edward Jones, performed the work at the Memorial Church, Harvard University USA, in November 2007.


IN PEACE I WILL LIE DOWN AND SLEEP Opus 31 No.3 (1984) 2'  
Anthem for unaccompanied SATB choir with divisions.
More info

Text from The English Psalter: Ps.4 v.8

In Peace was first performed on BBC Radio 4 on 3rd November 1984 in the 'Evening Service' by the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir conducted by John Bishop.

Besides the aforementioned concert performances with the other two anthems, In Peace was performed by the New London Singers, directed by Ivor Setterfield, in their concert entitled "War and Peace" in St Augustine’s Church, Queensgate, London, in June 2003. 

Programme for a concert by the New London Singers, 2003


In Peace was broadcast twice on BBC Radio 3 in October 2012 by the Choir of Winchester College, directed by Malcolm Archer.

Fan mail


PRECES & RESPONSES (i) (unaccompanied SSAATTBB) Opus 37

These Responses were commissioned in 1986 by the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir for BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong. This performance unfortunately didn’t take place, but the Preces and Responses were subsequently sung at numerous Evensong services in Coventry and Gloucester Cathedrals by the Coventry Cathedral Chapter House Choir under the direction of Geoffrey Holroyde.

During Andrew's 70th birthday year, Paula Downes and David Trippett created a multitrack video recording of these Preces and Responses, which Paula posted online in March 2020.  She then made a music video to go with it.


From the RUNNYMEDE MILLENNIUM CHORAL EVENSONG SERVICE Opus 65 (1997)

The Lord is my Shepherd

More info

The Runnymede Church Choirs Association celebrated their 50th anniversary in the year 2000.  They asked Andrew for a setting of the Evensong Service to celebrate. Amongst the unaccompanied movements of the Evensong service was Andrew’s setting of Psalm 23, The Lord is my Shepherd, for unaccompanied SATB

The Lord is my Shepherd, was first performed in St George's Chapel, Windsor, by the Runnymede Church Choirs Association, directed by Lionel Pike, on 21st October 2000. Andrew and I had a wonderful trip to Windsor to hear the choirs. I remember it was a lovely sunny day and the church choirs arrived by coach, excited to be performing in this magnificent chapel on the special 50th anniversary of their foundation.


The full service, including the Introit, The Lord is my Shepherd, was first performed at Evensong for the Festival of St Cecilia in the Chapel of Royal Holloway, University of London, by the Chapel Choir, conducted by Lionel Pike, on 29th November 2000. Andrew and I were invited for the occasion to stay at the beautiful House of the Principal, Sir Drummond Bone, to attend the service and a special dinner in the college Picture Gallery afterwards.

The Lord is my Shepherd, was subsequently sung by the Chapel Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London, conducted by Lionel Pike, in Mosta Church, Malta (July 2001) on their summer concert tour of the island and in the Chapel of Royal Holloway (May 2004).


Diary entry about the trip:


The excellent Kingfisher Chorale, directed by David Fisher, also gave several performances of the Introit: in the Frazer Noble Hall, Leicester (October 2003 and November 2009); in St John's Church, Clarendon Park, Leicester (March 2004); in Braunston Parish Church, Northants (May 2014) and at the Blaby Festival (June 2005).

Paula and David Trippett chose the Introit for their beautiful wedding in the Chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. It was given an amazing performance by ex-Cambridge Choral Scholars, directed by Stefan Reid, in July 2005.

Bride Paula Downes with father Andrew Downes, Trinity Chapel, Cambridge, July 2005

The choir at the wedding of Paula Downes and David Trippett, Trinity Chapel, Cambridge, 2005

Also in July 2005, The Lord is my Shepherd was performed by the Lyra Davidica Choir in Lichfield Cathedral, and later on in Canterbury Cathedral in August 2017, again by Lyra Davidica, both performances conducted by their founder and director Christine Edmundson. 

In September 2011 The Lord is my Shepherd was sung at the Christening of our granddaughter, Penny, by our family: Paula - soprano; Anna and myself - altos; David - tenor; Daniel Sumner and James Trippet - basses; Andrew Downes – conductor - in the Chapel of Christ’s College, Cambridge.  We had a lovely garden party afterwards in the grounds of Christ’s College, where David had become a Fellow in 2010.

Christening at Christ's College Chapel, Cambridge

Two performances by Old Swinford Hospital School Choir, directed by our daughter Anna, were given in the Foleyan Hall of the school in November 2015.  The Chamber Choir of Old Swinford Hospital School, directed by Anna’s student George Nicholls, performed the work at the Church of St Alban the Martyr, Birmingham, in April 2018. Very shortly after this, George Nicholls became organ scholar at Royal Holloway.  

In May 2018 the Cantabrigians included The Lord is my Shepherd, arranged for high voices by Paula, as part of their recital in the OCR of Trinity College Cambridge. See poster below.

The first performance of The Lord is my Shepherd in the USA was given in King's Chapel, Boston Massachusetts, on August 22nd 2006 by the Millennium Scholars directed by Paula. Andrew and I sang in this performance on our unforgettable trip to Boston to visit Paula and David in March 2007. This concert can be heard on Sound Cloud.

In March 2009 the Introit was performed in Appleton Chapel of Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts, by the University Chapel Choir, conducted by Edward Jones.

During her time in Massachusetts, Paula introduced the Introit to Maria Vankalken, director of the senior choir of Old North Church Marblehead, Massachusetts, with the result that in May 2009 it was performed at Old North Church, Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA, by the Senior Choir of the Church, directed by Maria Vankalken.

The full Runnymede Service was recorded for CD entitled The Lord is my Shepherd (CPVP014CD) by the Chapel Choir of Royal Holloway, with Brian Moles, organ, directed by Lionel Pike, in Arundel Cathedral on 6th & 7th January 2001.  All the tracks from this CD have been broadcast many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA. The Lord is my Shepherd (track 1) of the CD can be heard in the Czech Music Everything Radio Show, April 2016, as part of an interview with Andrew. 

My arrangement of The Lord is my Shepherd for solo voice and strings has been performed on numerous occasions by Paula Downes with the Lynwood Lea String Quartet and other ensembles.

Paula created a multitrack recording of her arrangement for SSAA in 2019. This was shared online during Andrew Downes 70th birthday year, on 15th April 2020.

PRECES & RESPONSES (ii) and PSALM 121 from the Runnymede Service (unaccompanied SSAATTBB)
More info  

The Preces & Responses (ii) and Psalm 121 were first sung by the Runnymede Church Choirs Association in Guildford Cathedral in November 2002.

Excerpt from a letter to Friends of Royal Holloway Chapel Choir:


Royal Holloway Chapel Choir performed the Responses in Exeter Cathedral in January 2003. Andrew and I went to hear their stunning performance here.  Royal Holloway Chapel Choir went on to sing these Responses in Royal Holloway Chapel, and then on several occasions in Chichester Cathedral (January 2001, November 2003 and February 2005), Canterbury Cathedral (February 2003), Lincoln Cathedral (May 2005), and many times in Royal Holloway Chapel.  All of these performances were conducted by Lionel Pike.

Music Lists, Royal Holloway Chapel Choir


The first performance of The Lord's Prayer from The Responses in the USA was given in King's Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts on August 22nd 2006 by the Millennium Scholars, directed by Paula Downes. Andrew and I sang in this performance. Our concert can be heard here. In March 2007 and March 2009 it was performed in Appleton Chapel of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the Chapel Choir, conducted by Edward Jones.

In May 2009 The Lord’s Prayer was performed at Old Swinford Hospital School by the Chapel Choir, conducted by Anna Downes. 

In May 2018 the Cantabrigians performed The Lord's Prayer, arranged for high voices by Paula Downes, as part of their ClimateKeys recital in the OCR of Trinity College Cambridge.

Poster for The Cantabrigians' ClimateKeys Concert including music by Andrew Downes, 2018

Paula created a multitrack recording of her SSAA arrangement in 2019.

There have been more performances of The Lord’s Prayer abroad:

In May 2009 it was performed at Old North Church, Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA, by the Senior Choir of the Church, directed by Maria Vankalken. 

The Lord's Prayer was given its German premiere in Cologne Cathedral by the Old Swinford Hospital School Chamber Choir, directed by George Nicholls, on July 4th 2017 with a second performance in the Apostelnkirche, Cologne, on the same day.

My arrangement of The Lord’s Prayer from the Runnymede Preces and Responses for solo voice and strings has been performed on numerous occasions by Paula Downes with the Lynwood Lea String Quartet and other ensembles.

From A St Luke Passion (opus 50 1992): 
Judas Mercator Pessimus
 and Tenebrae Factae Sunt 

More info

These unaccompanied Anthems were performed at King's Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts, on August 22nd 2006 by the Millennium Scholars directed by Paula Downes.  Andrew and I sang in these performances as part of our trip to visit Paula and David at the end of the first year of their stay together at Harvard University, where David was working towards his PhD and he and Paula were working in pastoral care. Listen to the concert.


THE COVENTRY CAROL (1979) 4'  

Arrangement for treble solo and SATBB choir (also SSAB version)


More info
Read Cynthia Downes' account of the World Premiere

This work was commissioned by the Choir of Hereford Cathedral, director Roy Massey, and first performed there on 15th December 1979.

A further performance by the Clent Hills Singers, conducted by Andrew, took place in St John's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, in December 1989.

The arrangement was recorded by the Clent Hills Singers, conducted by Andrew, for the cassette, "Christmas in the Forest" (© 1989 Forest Music). Paula, Anna and I all sang in the choir for these performances and recording.

An instrumental performance of this work was given by Hagley Community Orchestra, directed by me, in St Saviour's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, in December 2017.

In December 2018 the work was performed at the Meridian Singers' Christmas Concert in St Mary's Church Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire, with Hextura Brass and Olga Elbourn, organ, conducted by Paula.

Paula produced a multitrack recording and music video for this work in 2021.

C2

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If you have performed in any of Andrew Downes' works or come to listen, please share your experiences in the Premieres Blog! Also see what others have said. Thank you so much for your contribution.





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