'What shall I do to show how much I love her?' and 'Ave Maria'

Recent concert for Andrew Downes' 70th Birthday year, including a vocal/instrumental arrangement of this work.

Premiere of 'What shall I do?':
5th May 1973
Cranbourne Chase Girls’ Public School in Wiltshire

Premiere of Ave Maria:
28th September 1974
The wedding of Sheila McQuattie and John Tudhope

More information and sheet music

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An account by Andrew's wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on February 7th, 2022

Song for unaccompanied AATTBB male voice group. (Versions for SSAB with Alto/Baritone solo, and for Soprano/Tenor Solo with String Quartet, both by Paula Downes also available)
More info

Between 1969 and 1972 Andrew was a choral scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge.  When his year group in the choir left St John’s after their degrees, they formed a vocal group which they called 'Counterpoint', and which was so good, they immediately got concert engagements all over the country.  I went to see them in a concert in Belsize Park in London (I lived in London at the time).  They made a wonderful, polished sound together.  The ex-choral scholars from St John's College, Cambridge were: Andrew himself and Philip Griffiths (countertenors), John Tudhope and John Walker (tenors), Anthony Edwards and Christopher Dean (basses).

Andrew Downes (4th from right, middle row) singing with St John's Chapel Choir, Cambridge, on ITV, Christmas 1969.

Counterpoint's initial publicity leaflet and repertoire:


In 1973 Andrew composed a song for Counterpoint to words by the 17th century poet, Thomas Betterton: What shall I do to show how much I love her? (Andrew’s opus 5).  Somehow Andrew got the poet and title words wrong when he composed this song.  He called the piece "What can I do to show how much I love her?" and credited John Dryden with the words.  This is how the song was printed in all the early programmes.  It was only in 2019 that our daughter Paula discovered the mistakes when she was arranging the song for her choir, the Meridian Singers!

Counterpoint first performed the song in their concert at Cranbourne Chase Girls’ Public School in Wiltshire on May 5th 1973.  The group was given accommodation at the house of the Headmistress.  Andrew always liked to tell the story of the chamber pots (clean I hope) under the beds filled with digestive biscuits for them!   I don’t think they ate them!

Programme for the premiere:

Between 1973 and 1975 Counterpoint performed the song at numerous concerts, including St Margaret's Church, Parliament Square, Westminster (June 1973), Cliveden House, Wooburn Festival (September 1973), King's School, Rochester (October 1973), Carmarthen Arts Club (November 1973), Llandovery College (November 1973), Swansea University (April 1974), Malmesbury Abbey (June 1974), Walsall Town Hall (June 1974), in the Cleobury Mortimer Festival, Shropshire (September 1974), Birmingham Art Gallery (December 1974), Sherborne Girls' School, Dorset (January 1975), on BBC Radio Birmingham (February 1974), on BBC Radio 2 (January 1975), and at our wedding on August 9th 1975 (Andrew’s part at the marriage ceremony was sung by Sheila McQuattie).

Programme for St Margaret's Westminster:

The order of service for our wedding (showing Andrew's song still with the wrong title and poet!):

Photo of Counterpoint: Sheila McQuattie (singing in Andrew Downes' place), Philip Griffiths, John Tudhope, John Walker, Anthony Edwards and Christopher Dean, performing What "can" I do to show how much I love her? at our wedding.

In September 2022, our daughter Paula, with her husband David Trippett created the following multitrack recording of the song: 

After the performance in our marriage service, Andrew leaned towards me and said: "And I meant every word."  

Andrew wrote a second work for Counterpoint:

AVE MARIA Opus 6 (1974) 2'

For unaccompanied male voice group: SATBB

This work was first performed by 5 members of Counterpoint at the wedding of Sheila McQuattie and the first tenor of Counterpoint, John Tudhope, on 28th September 1974.

Our daughter Paula, with her husband David, created a multitrack recording of Ave Maria, in 2022, which can be heard on Sounds on this website. She also created a video to go with it, which can be seen below:

Not long after our marriage in 1975, Andrew didn’t want to continue his life as a gig musician, particularly as his only mode of transport to and from the concerts was a Honda 50 motorbike!  It was the night that he arrived at our home in Blakedown, Worcestershire, at 4am (!) that he made his final decision. 

'What shall I do to show how much I love her?'
 in arrangements:

Back in 1974, when Andrew had taken up a post at Thames Valley Grammar School in Twickenham, he composed his Christmas Cantata for first performance, which he conducted himself, at his first Christmas concert as music teacher at the school.  He incorporated 'What shall I do?' as one of the movements of the Cantata, in an instrumental version, which he called Lullaby.  I went to the premiere and loved the Cantata.  I sat next to Frank, Andrew’s father, who was very impressed.  The pupils loved performing it too.

Programme for the premiere of Christmas Cantata:

Over the years I have performed individual movements from the Cantata, especially the Lullaby, quite often in Christmas concerts and church services in our area with many local musicians, adapting the instrumentation to the players I’ve had available.  

Programmes from my Hagley performances:

Following Andrew's devastating and untimely death on January 2nd 2023, our daughters Anna and Paula set up the 'Andrew Downes Year of Remembrance' (Performances 2023 and Performances 2024), inviting musicians to include Andrew's music in their concerts.  I directed Hagley Community Orchestra in a special performance of the Lullaby in the St Saviour's Church Christmas Carol Service in December 2023. 

Back in December 2019, the Meridian Singers, directed by Paula, performed the whole Christmas Cantata in St John the Baptist Church, Holywell, Cambridgeshire, in an arrangement by Paula, with Brass sextet (Hextura Brass), keyboard (Olga Elbourn) and side drum (David Cammish).  I remember spending quite a long time proofreading Paula’s arrangement, but it was well worth it and the copies are now available here.

Poster for Meridian Singers' Christmas Concert 2019:

For Andrew's 70th birthday year, a socially distanced online performance of the whole Christmas Cantata in its original form was recorded in the Countess of Huntingdon Hall by the Central England Camerata orchestra and soloists, leader Anna Downes, conducted by Anthony Bradbury, during the coronavirus lockdown in December 2020.  The performance was shared in a Watch party on December 23rd, so Andrew and I could watch it from the confines of our home, as did many other people.

This video will automatically begin at Lullaby (you can rewind to hear the whole work):

The year before this, 'What shall I do?', the song, arranged by Paula for SSAB choir with Alto/Baritone solo, was performed in two concerts by the Meridian Singers, conducted by Paula, in the Church of St John the Baptist, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, in March and October.  It was performed by Rob Freake, baritone, with the Meridian Singers. Listen to their performance.

The Meridian Singers, St John the Baptist, Somersham, Cambridgeshire, conducted by Paula Downes, 2019

In support of the campaigns to raise awarenes of Climate Change, Paula further adapted the song, this time using words of a Native American poem in translation: Wind Song.  She created three versions, the first for Soprano Solo with String Quartet. She performed it in this version with The Silver Swans at the Elm Tree Pub, Cambridge.

Poster for Climate Change concert:

Paula with the Silver Swans at the Elm Tree Pub, Cambridge

 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.  As a result, Paula created a multi-track recording of Wind Song for high voices (3rd version), singing all the parts herself.

Poster for the cancelled Meridian Singers' Climate Change concert:

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 our daughter Anna in July 2020, in celebration of Andrew’s 70th birthday year.

Also in 2020, Paula arranged 'What shall I do', with its original words, for tenor and soprano soloists with instrumentalists, and performed it herself with Stephen Lawrence (tenor), Elliott De Vivo (clarinet), Emily Smith (cello) and Rosie Moon (double bass) in a Valentine's concert in St Paul's, Hills Road, Cambridge, in February 2020, again as part of Andrew Downes' 70th Birthday celebration year, and in aid of Stoke Mandeville Spinal Research.

Wind Song is included in educational resources on
Native American Culture by Paula Downes.

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