The Light of Unexpected Angels is the first recording by Sospiri and features a showcase of John Duggan's choral work as well as tracks by Britten, Anerio, Josquin, Poulenc and Richard Lloyd. John says:
'We recorded this in early 2007 in the chapel at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford, with Libby Burgess (http://www.elizabethburgess.com/) as our producer. At the time we were such a small group that Chris (Watson) directed from within the group, managing to sing at the same time. A marvellous piece of multitasking!'
This collection also features John's setting of the William Blake poem 'The Sick Rose', which is not available on the CD
Sospiri recorded this CD at the wonderful Abbaye Notre Dame des Dombes near Lyon in France in September, 2007. We were invited to the Abbey by the Communauté du Chemin-Neuf and we spent a fun-packed few days singing and recording there. The Abbey church is set in the quiet countryside just north of Lyon and has a rich and resonant acoustic. It was the ideal space to record this mixture of plainsong and polyphonic medieval and renaissance settings of Christmas texts, including the six-part setting of Videte Miraculum (Behold the miracle of the mother of the Lord) by Thomas Tallis. The disc includes my setting of the French carol La Ballade de Jésus Christ (SATB). The tune appears in the English Hymnal with the text 'Let all mortal flesh keep silent'.
One of the out-takes from the sessions, included here, is my setting (SATB) of the Augustinian text: Tu excitas ut laudare. I was fortunate to hear a sermon preached by Liz Carmichael, the chaplain of St John's College, Oxford on this text, which was thought-provoking and inspirational. Whilst recording the track the tranquil calm of the Abbey was disrupted by a huge flock of seagulls. If you listen carefully in the closing 30 seconds of the piece you can hear them vying for attention.
New and miscellaneous choral work
These are choral tracks of mine that were recorded at various Sospiri sessions and concerts that have yet to make their way onto a disc.
Psalm 95 was commissioned for the Edington Festival in 2008 and premièred there in the Priory Church, Edington by the Festival Consort. I used an English version of the psalm text: 'O come, let us sing unto the Lord' and the scoring is SSATB. This recorded version is from the Sospiri sessions in Hertford College chapel, summer 2008.
Nunc autem manet was written for my friends Paul and Angharad de Cates for their wedding in April 2010. The Latin text is taken from Corinthians 13:13: 'Now there are but three things, faith, hope and love…', and the scoring is SAATB. This recorded version is from the Sospiri sessions in St Michael's church, Summertown, in the summer 2010.
Pied Beauty is a setting of the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem and was commissioned by Sospiri for a concert entitled: Glory be to God for dappled things (music and poetry from the city of dreaming spires). Scored for SSATBarB, this recording was made at the concert in Merton College chapel in June 2010.
Brassica est was commissioned by the Oxford-based choir, Commotio for their concert at St Barnabas church in June 2010. It is scored for SATBarB and takes a text from the Roman writer Cato the Elder, which extols the virtues of eating cabbage. The music is built around the notes: CABBAGE at the behest of Commotio director, Matthew Berry. The recording is from the concert.
Lifeline (Restless Blue)
Released in 2009, this is the only album by my band, Restless Blue. The music embodies the Restless Blue spirit of improvisation, exotic soundscapes and bittersweet lyricism. Several tracks feature guest vocalists, including the fabulous classical soprano, Susanna Fairbairn and the Japanese diva, Yuko Matsunaga.