After completing his studies at the Royal College of Music and Cambridge University, John Sanders (1933–2003) was appointed Assistant Organist at Gloucester Cathedral and Director of Music at the King’s School in 1958. Five years later he became Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chester Cathedral where he also revived the city’s Music Festival. He returned to Gloucester in 1967 to direct the Cathedral’s music and the Three Choirs Festival. He was awarded a Lambeth DMus in 1990, the FRSM in 1991 and the OBE in 1994. He retired from his cathedral post in that year to concentrate mainly on composition and directing the music at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.
The Reproaches was written in 1984 when part of the revised liturgy for Good Friday was introduced at Gloucester Cathedral. The work received its first broadcast performance on Good Friday 1987 on BBC Radio 4 and was recorded in the same year. The form and atmosphere take as a point of reference Allegri’s Miserere, with its use of plainsong contrasted with harmony in the verses, although the harmonies used perhaps have more in common with Gesualdo, which the composer said ‘gives the music a sense of timelessness’.
from notes by William McVicker © 1997