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The Kingdom of God, Op 38

author of text

Hugh Wood (b1932) read history at Oxford and studied privately with Lloyd Webber. Like many composers of his generation he sought musical inspiration abroad, studying with Mátyás Seiber. He has taught at Morley College (where another of his teachers, Iain Hamilton, also taught), at the Royal Academy of Music, and at the universities of Glasgow and Liverpool and, since 1976, at Cambridge where he is a Fellow of Churchill College.

Wood was attracted to the music of the Second Viennese School and adopted a twelve-note technique. He has had a number of important commissions from the BBC for the Cheltenham Festival and the Promenade Concerts.

His anthem The Kingdom of God, Op 38, is a setting of a poem by Francis Thompson and was commissioned by the 1994 City of London Festival. It was premiered by St Paul's Cathedral Choir on 3 July 1994. The music is written in twelve parts, each of the treble, alto, tenor and bass parts being subdivided into three. These groups of three parts sing a series of triads which are superimposed upon each other, echoing the way in which chords in a resonant building (such as St Paul's) merge into each other. A new section at the words 'Does the fish soar to find the ocean', based on a broken triad and the interval of a fifth, is punctuated by a polytonal ritornello of superimposed triads. A second new idea, a rising and falling phrase (at 'the traffic of Jacob's ladder') comes to a head at the fortissimo chord at the words 'Charing Cross'. The final section recalls the texture of superimposed triads before arriving at the exotic closing chords.

from notes by William McVicker 1995


The English Anthem, Vol. 5
CDA66758Archive Service


Track 8 on CDA66758 [7'59] Archive Service

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