Wondrous Cross

As we approach Passiontide I thought I’d write a few words about my cantata Wondrous Cross – some of this was in my previous blog so you may have already read it.

At the school I attended from age 11 we sung J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion every Easter: so I probably sung all the voices over the years, and also played keyboard continuo, and the memory of that great work has stuck with me ever since, particularly the final chorus and the joyous exultation of the concluding chorale. It was pointed out to me after I wrote Wondrous Cross that one of the motifs in it is close to the beautiful descending three-note phrases of the penultimate chorus of the Bach Passion, and somehow, unintentionally, several elements of Bach’s Passion must have found their way into my Passion-tide work – Wondrous Cross (OUP 2012): details here.
I wrote Wondrous Cross in 2011 for Lion Walk Church in Colchester, where I worship regularly. My aim was to write a Passiontide work which was dramatic and accessible to a range of choirs, by giving some flexibility with regard to solo voices and forces used. Our small amateur choir performed it during Holy Week 2012 with strings and organ (you can hear this performance here; despite its imperfections I think it is a devoted and meaningful performance within a church service)
Later in the year it was recorded by the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College Cambridge, director Sarah MacDonald, who later recorded it for Regent Records – details here

In presenting the Passiontide story I decided to focus on the crucifixion by using the ‘Seven Last Words’ of Jesus on the Cross and the Bible narration leading up to each. I set the narration for unison voice(s) and Jesus’s words for four-part choir, thus putting Jesus’s words into the mouths of all. I linked these passages by settings of other related texts and some traditional Passiontide hymns – and one spiritual. If it is performed in a worship situation, the congregation can join in with these. Underlying the whole work is the eighteenth-century hymn-tune ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’ which appears in the Prelude, in the background at various points in the work, and complete at the end. Here’s a link on Youtube with me talking about it.

Since publication in 2012 it has had a good and increasing number of performances – all over the UK and Scotland, but also in the Netherlands and the US, in concert halls, abbeys, cathedrals, and parish churches. I’m looking forward to singing it again this Passiontide!

You can obtain the Wondrous Cross CD from all good record shops including http://colchesterclassics.co.uk/ and from Regent Records
You can obtain the Wondrous Cross score from OUP and all good music shops including Forwoods Music

Performances 2017

This post will be updated as more information becomes available

7 January 2017
Glory to the Christ Child
Southwark Cathedral, Choral Evensong
Fever Pitch

8 February 2017
Three Blues
Lion Walk Church, Colchester
Samantha Christopher (clarinet), Ian Ray (piano)

18 March 2017
Psalmos Penetentiales (First performance)
King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford
Waltham Singers / Andrew Fardell

22 March 2017
Spring Pictures
Lion Walk Church, Colchester (1.00)
Melinda Blackman (violin), Alan Bullard (piano)

25 March 2017
Three Poems of W B Yeats
Brandenburg Choral Festival, St. Clement Dane’s Church, London
Ionian Singers / Timothy Salter

1 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
Radyr Parish Church, near Cardiff
Radyr and Morganstown Choral Society / Peter Esswood

8 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
Nottingham Hospitals Choir / Nicholas Milburn

8 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
Clacton Choral Society / Gillian Dulieu

8 April 2017
Love on my heart from heaven fell
Dorking Halls
Leith Hill Festival Choir / Jonathan Willocks

9 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
Red Wing Singers
First Lutheran Church, Red Wing, Minnesota, USA

9 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
Lion Walk Church, Colchester (evening worship)
Lion Walk Church Choir / Ian Ray

9 April 2017
Wondrous Cross
St Andrew’s Church, Roxbourne, Harrow (evening worship)

6 May 2017
Journey through Time
St. James’ Church, Sussex Gardens, Paddington
Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble / Shea Lolin

4 June 2017
Selwyn Service
Selwyn College Chapel, Cambridge (6pm Evensong)
Selwyn College Chapel Choir / Sarah MacDonald

4 June 2017
Come, O Creator Spirit
Lion Walk Church Colchester, Pentecost Service
Lion Walk Choir / Ian Ray

4 June 2017
Come, O Creator Spirit
Bruton Parish Church, Willamsburg, Virginia, USA, Pentecost Service
Bruton Parish Choir / Rebecca Davy

10 June
The Darkling Thrush
St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road, Oxford, 7.30 pm
Commotio / Matthew Berry

17 June 2017
Three Blues
Castle Methodist Church, Colchester (afternoon)
Charles Hine (clarinet), Alan Bullard (piano)

17 June 2017
A Swan, A Man
Castle Methodist Church Colchester (afternoon)
Tim Torry (baritone), Alan Bullard (piano)

1 July 2017
A Summer Garland
St Swithun’s Church, The Paragon, Bath
Cappella Nova / Tony Shield

15 December 2017
Glory to the Christ Child
St John the Evangelist, Iffley Road, Oxford, 7.45 pm
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

17 December 2017
Glory to the Christ Child
St David’s Hall, Cardiff, 3.oo pm
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers

12 April 2018
Stocking and Shirt
Leith Hill Festival, Dorking

Recent recordings

And all the stars looked down
Song of the Nativity
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
Coro COR16146
BBC Music Magazine Christmas Choice 2016
Details here

And all the stars looked down
There is no rose
Vocal Group Concert Clemens / Carsten Seyer-Hansen
Orchid Classics ORC100062
Details here

Hark Hark, the Lark
Sing Willow
Les Sirenes / Andrew Nunn
Albion Records ALBCD030
Details here

The Essex Service (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis)
Sing Praise to Christ
The Choir of Chelmsford Cathedral / James Davy
Chorum CHORCD450

Performances Christmas 2016

 

Alan Bullard: selected performances Advent and Christmas 2016

26 November 2016
A Light in the Stable
St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Cowling, Yorkshire
KVU Singers / Frank Smith

27 November 2016
There is a rose tree
Raydon Parish Church, Suffolk (Evensong, 5pm)
The Marenzio Singers

27 November 2016
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
Great Missenden Parish Church
Great Missenden Church Choir

3 December 2016
A Feast for Christmas
Davis High School, California
Davis Chorale

3 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
St Mary’s Church, Ely
Ely Choral Society / Andrew Parnell

3 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
Holy Trinity, Claygate
Claygate Choral Society / Ed Jones

3 December 2016
A Light in the Stable
United Reformed Church, Billericay, Essex
The Choir for all Seasons / Michael Hewitt

4 December 2016
I saw a stable, Angel Alleluias
Wiston Church, Wissington, Suffolk, 6pm
The Marenzio Singers

4 December 2016
Glory to the Christ-Child
Neskirkja, Hagatorg, 107 Reykjavík
Neskirkja Choir

4 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, Maryland, USA
Takoma Park Presbyterian Church Choir, Pro Musica, and members of Washington Adventist University / James Bingham

5 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
Mint Methodist Church, Exeter
Exeter Choral Society

6 December 2016
Snow and Wisselton, Wasselton
Walnut Hills Baptist Church, Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg Women’s Chorus and Youth Chorale / Rebecca Davy

7 December 2016
Shepherds, guarding their flocks
St Silas Church, Blackburn
Rawstorne Singers / Michael Sands

10 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
St Mark’s Church, Barton Road, Newnham, Cambridge
Cantus Sings of Cambridge, dir. Alan Howard

10 December 2016
Scots Nativity, Glory to the Christ-Child
St Nicholas Church, Chadlington / Matthew Smallwood
North Cotswold Chamber Choir

10 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
Papendrecht, Netherlands
Cantica / Henk Van Andel

10 December 2016
I saw a stable
Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge
Fairhaven Singers / Ralph Woodward

11 December 2016
This is the truth sent from above
Nottingham Hospitals Choir / Nicholas Milburn

11 December 2016
O Come Emmanuel
First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Chancel Choir of First Presbyterian Church / David Kunkel

12 December 2016
I saw a stable
Church of St John the Evangelist, Bridge Street, Derby
Sitwell Singers / Malcolm Goldring

17 December 2016
A Light in the Stable
St. Andrew’s Church, Surbiton
Kingston Choral Society / Andrew Griffiths

18 December 2016
There is a rose tree
Lion Walk Church, Colchester, evening carol service
Lion Walk Church Choir / Ian Ray

20 December 2016
Shepherds, guarding their flocks
Blackmore Church, Essex
Stondon Singers / Christopher Tinker

20 December 2016
Ideo, ideo
St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich
Norwich Philharmonic Choir / David Dunnett

22 December and 24 December 2016
Glory to the Christ Child
Norwich Cathedral (Christmas Procession Service)
Norwich Cathedral Choir / Ashley Grote

24 December 2016
A light for today
Plymouth Congregational Church, Minneapolis
Choir of Plymouth Congregational Church / Philip Brunelle

7 January 2017
Glory to the Christ Child
Southwark Cathedral, Choral Evensong
Fever Pitch

New recordings, Autumn / Winter 2016

And all the stars looked down
Song of the Nativity
The Sixteen / Harry Christophers
Coro COR16146
BBC Music Magazine Christmas Choice 2016
Details here

And all the stars looked down
There is no rose
Vocal Group Concert Clemens / Carsten Seyer-Hansen
Orchid Classics ORC100062
Details here

Hark Hark, the Lark
Sing Willow
Les Sirenes / Andrew Nunn
Albion Records ALBCD030
Details here

The Essex Service (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis)
Sing Praise to Christ
The Choir of Chelmsford Cathedral / James Davy
Chorum CHORCD450