When I heard about the festival and the international call for scores last year, I was super excited at the possibility of having some of my pieces performed in London by a fabulous Brittish choir.
The only time I've set foot in the UK was passing through Heathrow Airport on my way to Poland. I'm dying to get into the city and experience all the amazing cultural things it has to offer. But I have to admit, what I'm most keen on is hearing the many fine Brittish choirs live and in person.
Since there was no limit to the number of submissions allowed in the Festival's call for scores, I submitted 21 pieces! To my great delight, 3 were selected: I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, Hymn of Joy: Joyful We Adore Thee, and the Kyrie from my Missa 'Musica Sacra'.
What really blew me away was that I was sharing concert programs with some of my absolute favorite living choral composers, geniuses like James MacMillan, Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Jackson, and others.
The London Festival is a week-long event with 2 Sundays as bookends. Each day, during the regularly scheduled Anglican services, the choirs sing pieces selected by the Festival committee. Sunday morning services, Sunday evening services, Evensong services on each weeknight, and a concert on Saturday all feature new liturgical works by living composers in a wonderful effort to continue the rich tradition of sacred worship music composed specifically for use in the church.
Unfortunately, not all the services were recorded. But I was lucky enough to get a lovely recording of The Sarum Consort performing my setting of I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. Here it is.
This is a special piece for me. It's the a cappella movement from my first cantata, The Firstfruits Of Them That Slept and is dedicated to the memory of my late grandmother, Louise Pew.
On a Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2013, I received a phone call from my Dad informing me that his mother was being put on hospice and would probably not survive the weekend. She was the sweetest little 4-foot 11-inches powerhouse of a woman, who fiercely loved her family and spread nothing but joy and happiness everywhere she went. I was able to speak to her that same night, which turned out to be the night she passed away. I learned later that my phone call was one of the last she was able to take from our now very large family. We spoke very briefly. She was gasping for every breath and spoke in a hushed whisper. Before saying goodbye and hanging up the phone, she said 3 times in a row, with more power and intensity than I had ever heard before, "never forget, Jesus, is, the Christ!"
This experience is burned into my memory. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth is my musical expression of the special feeling I had that night when my grandmother passed away.
For more information, or to get a copy of the sheet music, please click the link below: