Poster for the premiere
29th November 1980
Birmingham Festival Choral Society
Birmingham School of Music Brass Band, Director Roy Curran
Baritone Soloist - John King
Conductor - Jeremy Patterson
An account by Andrew's wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on January 9th, 2022
THE TEMPLE OF SOLOMON Opus 19 (1980) 15'
Cantata for baritone solo, SATB choir and brass band
In the late seventies Andrew was wanting to increase his standing as a composer. In those days there were fantastic regional Arts Councils which supported up and coming artists. Andrew asked me if we could invite Dorothy Wilson, Head of Music at West Midlands Arts, to dinner, and introduce her to his music. We duly asked Dorothy over to our house and she heard recordings of Andrew's pieces. She seemed very impressed, and it wasn't long before she was recommending Andrew to local performers, who in their turn began to commission works from Andrew, with funding from West Midlands Arts.
The first commission which Andrew received was in 1980 from the Birmingham Festival Choral Society to commemorate the Restoration of Birmingham Cathedral. It was to be premiered by the choir, with John King, baritone soloist, and the Birmingham School of Music (now the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) Brass Band, under the direction of Jeremy Patterson, on 29th November 1980.
It was a very exciting time for us right from the beginning of the project. Andrew asked me for suggestions as to texts. I asked my Dad, Geoff Cooper, who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible, for ideas. Because the work was in celebration of Birmingham Cathedral’s restoration, he thought the building of the first Temple in Jerusalem would suit superbly the occasion and the forces: baritone soloist, choir and brass band. I compiled the text from the First Book of Kings and the Second Book of Chronicles describing the building of the first Temple in Jerusalem, and I suggested a setting of psalm 150, Praise Ye the Lord, written by Solomon’s father David, to end the work. Andrew created a truly evocative atmosphere conveying the primitive Old Testament story brilliantly.
In those days Andrew worked at the piano and wrote in pencil first, then copied the score and each part in very neat handwriting, using a fine felt tip pen. I had the job of reproducing the scores on our very early photocopier. I knew the work very well in its piano version, as it gradually emerged each day, but I had no idea how exciting those opening bars on timpani then brass joined by the soloist would be. I had tingles down my spine. My recording made on a primitive cassette player on my lap is just about good enough to illustrate the wonderful atmosphere.
Here are three snippets from the premiere:
“Behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God. As the Lord spoke unto David, my father, saying, thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne, he shall build an house unto my Name.”
have Thou respect unto the prayer of Thy servant and to his
supplication, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer which Thy
servant prayeth before Thee. That Thine eyes may be open to this house
night and day: and hear Thou in heav’n, and when Thou hearest, forgive.”
“Praise ye the Lord.”
Postcard from Dorothy Wilson, Head of Music at West Midlands Arts:
Appointment to discuss Andrew's promotion at the Birmingham Schhol os Music:
The Birmingham School of Music Chorus and Brass Band, with baritone soloist Michael Dowding, directed by Peter James, performed the work in St Augustine's Church, Edgbaston Birmingham, in November 1982. Their performance was gutsy and full of pathos at the same time.
Here are two extracts:
Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated;
even the silver and the gold did her put among the treasures of the
house of the Lord. And the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant into
the most holy place.”
"Praise Him with the sound
of the trumpets;
Praise Him with psaltery and harp.
Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs;
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals.
Praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath,
Praise the Lord.”
Letter from Jeremy Patterson after hearing the recording:
The Birmingham Festival Choral Society,
performed the work again, with soloist Brian Rayner Cook, and the
Birmingham Conservatoire Brass Band, directed by Jeremy Patterson, in
June 1990 in Birmingham Cathedral.
Letters from the conductor:
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