As the season winds down, there’s one more extra-curricular event for the LCH Choir — and that’s a Joint Evensong with our Episcopal colleagues at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sunday, May 6th at 5:30 pm. The heart of any Evensong service are the singing of two canticles: the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. This week’s service will feature the “Jesus College” setting (opus 53) by Welsh composer William Mathias (1934-1992). The reason it is called the “Jesus College” service is that it was commissioned and had its first performance at Jesus College, Cambridge, U.K. on the occasion of the dedication of a new organ on March 6, 1971.
I went to the Jesus College website and learned that the original organ was replaced by a new instrument by John Mander in 1971. The website said the Mander organ served them well for daily chapel services, until 2007 when they received a large donation for a new organ. The Mander organ was subsequently replaced in 2007 by an instrument by a Swiss firm, Orgelbau Kuhn. the first instrument by this builder in the U.K. and is considered “the finest organ in Cambridge.”
We sing a lot of music by Mathias at LCH — in fact during this Eastertide season, we are using his communion setting every week at the 10:30 am service. One of the first pieces we learned was his setting of Psalm 67, which was composed for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. We also sing his Tomorrow shall be my dancing day and A babe is born for Christmas. A musical prodigy, Mathias started playing the piano at age three and composed his first piece at age five!
Somewhere else I read that some organists put on the Zimbelstern during the Amen of the Gloria Patri of Mathias’ “Jesus College” Magnificat. Whether organist John Renke will do this next Sunday at St. Andrew’s Cathedral remains to be seen! In any case, you’ll be able to easily tell the LCHers from the St. Andrew’s folks: We’re wearing the blue vestments (the Blue Team) and they’re wearing red (the Red Team). (With a reference to politics, someone recently said, “Oh, what a relief!”)