Cover Beauty for Ashes

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  • Sarah MacDonald (b. 1968): Crux fidelis:
  • 1MacDonald: Crux fidelis06:15
  • Cheryl Frances-Hoad (b. 1980): Psalm 6:
  • 2Frances-Hoad: Psalm 605:17
  • Ian Stephens (b. 1974): Salisbury Service:
  • 3Stephens: Salisbury Service: Magnificat07:41
  • 4Stephens: Salisbury Service: Nunc Dimittis05:24
  • Alison Willis (b. 1971): I sing of a maiden:
  • 5Willis: I sing of a maiden03:37
  • Roxanna Panufnik (b. 1968): Hymn to St Alfege:
  • 6Panufnik: Hymn to St Alfege05:11
  • Owain Park (b. 1993): Beati quorum via:
  • 7Park: Beati quorum via04:45
  • Judith Bingham (b. 1952): The Pilgrimes Travels:
  • 8Bingham: The Pilgrimes Travels06:08
  • David Lancaster (b. 1960): Feathers:
  • 9Lancaster: Feathers05:53
  • Judith Weir (b. 1954): Leaf from leaf Christ know:
  • 10Weir: Leaf from leaf Christ know03:52
  • Owen Leech (b. 19971): The Lily of Heaven:
  • 11Leech: The Lily of Heaven05:18
  • Bob Chilcott (b. 1955): Beauty for Ashes:
  • 12Chilcott: Beauty for Ashes05:25
  • Paul Edwards (b. 1955): God be in my head:
  • 13Edwards: God be in my head02:14
  • Total Runtime01:07:00

Info for Beauty for Ashes

The Elysian Singers have from their start nearly 40 years ago championed contemporary choral music. Beauty for ashes is a unique collection of unrecorded music from some of the UK’s foremost choral composers.

Whilst the programme includes well-established names from classical music such as Bob Chilcott and Judith Weir, Judith Bingham and Roxanna Panufnik, it also includes newer voices such as Alison Willis, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and Sarah Macdonald. Half of the contemporary composers featured on the recording are women, and their work exemplifies the enormous contribution female composers are making to the English choral tradition, in a genre where they have been historically under-represented and under-recorded.

The principal aim of the recording is to enable these compositions to find new audiences and to promote the creation of new choral works. At a time when the sacred choral tradition is under severe threat from budget cuts, Beauty for ashes reveals the vibrancy and variety of contemporary composition.

Mark Brafield, organ
The Elysian Singers
Sam Laughton, direction

Mark Brafield
has studied the organ with Robert Munns, Stephen Farr, David Sanger and Dame Gillian Weir. He held an Organ Scholarship with a Scholarship in English Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, and is a Fellow and former Chairman of the Royal College of Organists.

Mark combines a legal profession with a career as a concert organist. He has performed widely at leading venues in this country including King’s College, Cambridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey and is increasingly active overseas, with recitals having included Beauvais Cathedral, St Thomas’s, Fifth Avenue, New York and Notre Dame de Paris.

The Elysian Singers of London
is one of the UK’s leading chamber choirs. Known for its adventurous programming, the choir performs in and around London and has recorded many widely acclaimed CDs. The Elysians pride themselves on combining high performance standards with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Founded in 1986 by Matthew Greenall, the group quickly developed an interest in contemporary music, giving world premières by a number of composers including John Tavener who, from 2002 until his death in 2013, was the choir’s Patron. Matthew was succeeded as music director by Sam Laughton in 2000. Recent world premières include a performance of Sir John Tavener’s Monument to Beethoven at the Royal Festival Hall (2014), John Habron’s Salve regina (2008), and Exile Lamentations (2009) a commission by Paul Stanhope. The choir regularly performs Baroque, Romantic and 20th-century masterpieces at venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields and St John’s Smith Square, and participates in festivals across the country. In 2004 the Elysians released their first CD of music by James MacMillan, Cantos sagrados, which received a 5-star rating from BBC Music Magazine. Reviewing ‘Songs of the Isles’, the choir’s 2009 Bantock release, the same publication spoke of the Elysians’ ‘young, fresh-toned voices, brightly attentive to text’. TV and radio highlights include the first broadcast performances of Henryk Górecki’s Miserere and Three Lullabies on Radio 3, appearances with Lesley Garrett, and the finals of the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year competition. The choir performed live on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ in 2011, introducing the première of its latest commission, Timepieces by Ian Stephens, and their CD, The Spirit of Christmas Present, released on Meridian. Their next CD Timepieces was released in 2014 and presents works that the choir has commissioned or premièred. In 2015 the upper voices of the choir made their debut performance at the BBC Proms, providing the offstage chorus for Holst’s The Planets with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the in 2017 the lower voices were delighted to make their debut with the violist Lawrence Power at the West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival. Sir James Macmillan is now the choir’s patron.

Sam Laughton
A former organ scholar at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he read music, Sam Laughton now juggles dual careers as a barrister and musician. He is musical director of The Elysian Singers, with whom he has made frequent appearances on radio and television, and made a number of acclaimed commercial recordings. He is also the Director of the Craswall Players, the Chiltern Camerata, and the Trinity Camerata. He is in demand as a guest conductor, working with such orchestras as the Oxford Sinfonia, Kensington Chamber Orchestra, Kew Sinfonia, Orchestra of the City, Crendon Chamber Orchestra and Trinity Camerata. As a keyboard player he has also worked with the groups as varied as Oxford Philomusica, the Joyful Company of Singers, English National Opera and Garsington Opera.

Booklet for Beauty for Ashes

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