Welcome to the 2019 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music! This year’s nine-day programme includes concerts in London, outreach events in Oxford, five new commissions, and premiere performances across London of new music submitted by composers around the world.
Interest in contemporary church music continues to flourish, and the LFCCM is delighted to present five new commissions in 2019. Four new pieces for choral evensong by Deborah Pritchard, Bernard Hughes, Sarah Cattley, and Joshua Ballance will be given their premiere performances during a live broadcast of choral evensong from St Pancras Parish Church, alongside the premiere performance of a new solo organ work by Alex Woolf. In addition to the broadcast premieres, a major commission from last year, Ben Rowarth’s Night Prayer, will receive a repeat performance by The Lacock Scholars.
We celebrate the birthdays of two of our patrons this year: Jonathan Dove and James MacMillan. Our opening concert, a sumptuous programme of contemporary music for trumpets and voices presented by vocal ensemble Il Suono alongside virtuoso trumpeters Simon Desbruslais and Ellie Lovegrove, features works by both Jonathan and James. The programme was inspired by Judith Weir’s anthem Praise Him With Trumpets, and Judith will take part in a pre-concert talk before the performance. Later in the Festival, the University College London Chamber Choir performs an entire programme of James’s music, including his rarely heard Missa Brevis, a work from his teenage years that was first performed and published only in 2007. The closing concert, performed by The Epiphoni Consort, is dedicated to Jonathan’s recent choral music, both sacred and secular, with Jonathan himself discussing his music in the pre-concert talk. This year also sees the first performance of a new mass by another of our patrons, Richard Pantcheff; his Mass of Christ the Redeemer will be premiered at St Pancras Parish Church. We also host the first performance of Robert Hanson’s St David’s Mass, a work completed shortly before his death in January.
I am delighted that we will be spending time in Oxford this year, with a workshop dedicated to hymn writing from a theological stance hosted by Worcester College, and performances of contemporary music at The Queen’s College, Merton College, and Magdalen College. Meanwhile, at churches across London, submissions to our Call for Scores project receive premiere performances throughout the week, including a choral eucharist at St Pancras Parish Church that particularly focuses on submissions from young composers.
I am most grateful, as always, to all directors of music, organists, chapters, clergy, composers, educational institutions and performers who contribute so richly to the success of this Festival. My thanks to all our patrons, private donors, and funding partners whose generous support enables us to realise our ambition to promote contemporary church music in the UK and beyond.