World music premieres at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in December

The choirs at St Edmundsbury Cathedral will be giving two world premieres of new pieces of music, composed specifically for them, over the Advent and Christmas period at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

On Sunday, December 17, the Cathedral Youth Choir will give the first performance of Mark Blatchly’s new set of canticles, the “Tenth Service”, at Evensong at 3.30 pm.

On Saturday, December 23, at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 7pm, the Cathedral Choir will sing “Epiphany Star” by Ghislaine Reece-Trapp, a setting of words by former Dean of St Edmundsbury, the Very Rev James Atwell.

Mark was director of music at St Edmundsbury Cathedral from 1990 to 1993 and subsequently organist at Charterhouse until his retirement in 2018. He is the composer of many works, most notably his anthem “For the Fallen” which is popular around the world during the season of Remembrance.

Ghislaine held the posts as an organist at Guildford Cathedral and Christ Church, Oxford, before becoming head of organ and teacher of academic music at Highgate School. She has gained widespread recognition as a composer and was a finalist in the BBC Radio 3 “Carol of the Year” composition competition in 2016. Her works have been performed by the cathedral choirs of Manchester and Southwark, the BBC Singers and by the choir of Westminster School.

The text of “Epiphany Star” is drawn from a collection of prayers by the Very Rev Atwell, “At the Gate of Heaven”.

He was installed a provost of St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 1994 with the post later changing to Dean under the Cathedral Measure in 2000. He was instrumental in the ideation, funding and building of the Cathedral’s tower, known as the Millennium Tower. Following its completion in 2005, he moved in 2006 to take up the position of Dean of Winchester. 

Timothy Parsons, the director of music at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “We’re thrilled to be giving the first performances of these two new works written for our choirs. While Mark Blatchly’s new canticles are lively, brisk and engaging, Ghislaine Reece-Trapp’s evocative and mysterious setting of James Atwell’s prayer will become an important part of our Christmas and Epiphany repertoire here. We hope you will be able to attend one of these premieres.”

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