The Music of John Rutter ()
You are invited to spend an evening in the company of Lichfield Cathedral Chorus performing a selection of music by John Rutter.
John Rutter has been described as ‘the most gifted composer of his generation’ and who are we to argue when we bring a selection of his incredible compositions together in one joyous programme. As the Summer sun illuminates the Cathedral (hopefully!) — join us for some hugely uplifting choral music composed by the man who is the ‘creator of wonderfully great things for the human voice’. We are looking forward to sharing them with you.
- Ave Maria (2003) — Brown
- Jubilate Deo (2006) — Brown
- King of glory (2020) — Brown
- A Clare Benediction (1998) — Rutter
- A Prayer of Saint Patrick (1983) — Rutter
- All things bright and beautiful (1983) — Rutter
- Down by the riverside (1975) — Rutter
- For the beauty of the earth (1980) — Rutter
- God be in my head (1970) — Rutter
- I will sing with the Spirit (1994) — Rutter
- Look at the world (1996) — Rutter
- The Lord bless you and keep you (1981) — Rutter
- The Lord is my shepherd (1978) — Rutter
- When the Saints go marching in (1990) — Rutter
Lichfield Cathedral, The Close, Lichfield, WS13 7LD [map]
Review of the Rutter concert
We were treated to a real musical feast last Saturday evening by not only the Lichfield Cathedral Chorus but also the youthful sound of Lichfield Young Voices and Lichfield Youth Voices. The programme consisted almost entirely of the very approachable choral works of John Rutter, with a sprinkling of pieces by “Disraeli Brown“ (aka Ben Lamb, the LCC conductor), many of the works being accompanied by a splendid small band.
Although only just over an hour in length, the programme managed to cover the full gamut of Rutter’s style, ranging from the very well known and much-loved The Lord bless you and keep you to the unjustifiably less familiar but beautifully blended Look at the world and the jolly settings of the spirituals Down by the riverside and When the Saints go marching in. The Chorus was considerably expanded on this occasion with some new members, and the result was a lovely youthful, secure sound, with the choir seeming very comfortable with the idiom and even with Rutter’s occasionally obscure key changes. There were moments when the tempi were not established with conviction at the beginnings of pieces, especially those with unusual time signatures, but they soon settled down.
It was lovely to see the members of Youth Voices sitting within the Chorus, and contributing splendidly in several works including the tuneful All things bright and beautiful and Disraeli Brown’s King of Glory, which employed a challenging variety of tempi. Diction was splendid from everyone, and tuning was also excellent, even in The Lord Bless you and keep you, which always sounds flat even when it isn’t! The unaccompanied God be in my Head, whilst somewhat derivative, deserves to be heard more often, and tuning was again secure here.
It was also lovely to hear the some of the instrumentations for Rutter’s pieces, which gave a wonderful colour to the sound, especially the rich warm oboe tone from Laura Ashton in The Lord is my Shepherd, and the great jazz clarinet style of Toby Roberts in the vibrant When all the Saints, and they were well supported by Lian Condon on organ, Matt Firkins on drums, Stephen Harrison on bass and the versatile Cathy Lamb on piano…she was also one of the Musical Directors of the Young Voices groups along with Ailsa Cochrane.
The biggest cheer and applause of the evening, however, went deservedly to Young Voices for their terrifically lively performance of The Heavenly Aeroplane, a fun setting of a 1920s folk/gospel text from Missouri, which was followed by their beautifully sung Look at the world, sensitively supported by the Chorus. And resounding applause from the large and appreciative audience went to the Finale piece, When the Saints…we could happily have had an encore. It was just a shame that hardly any of the audience were able to see the children and instrumentalists, as they were standing at floor level.
Nevertheless it was a quite delightful way to spend a warm summer’s evening, in the cool of this magnificent building listening to music designed for just such a space, and let’s hope this lovely evening will have encouraged even more singers to come along and have a go in the future…here’s to the next concert in December!
Megan Barr, June 2023
Review: Lichfield Cathedral Chorus at Lichfield Cathedral
[Original can be found here].
Lichfield Cathedral Chorus celebrated the work of John Rutter in their latest concert in the city.
The group is an independent amateur choir that shares its name, musical director and venue with the place of worship. They put on four varied shows a year.
Their latest outing saw them teach us that it doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy the music of John Rutter.
There are many songs that people know well but couldn’t name the composer that turn out to be Rutter’s. Some pieces were so moving that it was hard to fight back the tears – in particular the contrast of plaintive solo woodwind against choir and organ in The Lord is My Shepherd.
But not all was Rutter. Interspersed were some by a very capable support act – Disraeli Brown – who turned out to be the alter ego of the musical director himself, Ben Lamb, who claimed it gave him freedom to write in a different style.
There was also youth showcased under the leadership of Ben’s wife Cathy, with The Heavenly Aeroplane the spirited centrepiece by the combined Lichfield Young and Youth Voices.
Perhaps the only criticism that could be made is a lack of stage management. The PA microphone only seemed to work intermittently and the audience wasn’t sure the performance had ended, perhaps hoping for an encore.
Stuart Sampson, in Lichfield Live, June 2023