Like John Tavener, Jonathan Harvey (1939–2012) was an English composer who drew much of his compositional inspiration from religious material. Harvey was also inspired by many composers and theorists: Erwin Stein, Hans Keller and so Schoenberg; Babbit and so Schenke; Britten, Tippet and Maxwell Davies; Fauré, Messiaen, Boulez and Stockhausen. In his early years, Harvey deliberately cultivated an eclectic outlook in his own music, although many of his early works were withdrawn. Harvey was also an enthusiastic electro-acoustic composer, and worked at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris. Perhaps it is these multifarious influences which contributed to Harvey’s rich and varied compositional output.
Come, Holy Ghost was commissioned by the Southern Cathedrals Festival, with funds provided by the Southern Arts Association. The first performance was given by Winchester Cathedral Choir, conducted by Martin Neary, on 26 July 1984 in Winchester Cathedral as part of the Southern Cathedrals Festival of that year. The work takes as its theme the plainsong Veni Sancte Spiritus, which burgeons into a complex section derived from fragments of the material. The work ends with a statement of the doxology in plainsong.
from notes by William McVicker © 1991